Ms. Benkers joined Plano Synergy as the company’s General Counsel in May, 2015. Ms. Benkers is a member of the company's Executive Committee and is responsible for overseeing the Plano Synergy companies’ legal affairs including litigation, intellectual property, and corporate matters.
Prior to joining Plano Synergy, Ms. Benkers was a partner at Quarles & Brady LLP where she specialized in the areas of general commercial and intellectual property litigation. At Quarles & Brady, Ms. Benkers handled a wide variety of commercial disputes including patent infringement, trade secret, copyright infringement, trademark, false advertising, breach of contract, fraud, UCC claims, insurance coverage, breach of restrictive covenants, real estate, employment, licensing and various other business disputes. Outside of the litigation context, Ms. Benkers counseled clients on business practices on a number of fronts, including securing and protecting their intellectual property, advertising, regulatory and environmental issues, document retention issues, and other general business advice.
Josie obtained her Juris Doctorate, cum laude from the University of Wisconsin. She also obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree, magna cum laude, in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in Psychology.
Accomplished corporate lawyer with diverse in-house and major law firm experience. Well skilled in advising on complex legal issues in an easily understood manner. Results oriented problem solver with a collaborative approach that promotes actionable, profitable solutions. Licensed in Illinois and Missouri.
Jennifer Crawford has served as Litigation Counsel at The Marmon Group in Chicago, Illinois since 2016. In this role, she manages litigation and advises key business leaders for approximately 175 independent Marmon business units in the manufacturing industry, along with general corporate practice. Prior to going in-house, she spent nearly a decade practicing law in the areas of product liability and toxic tort litigation at Locke Lord (formerly Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon) and Faegre Baker Daniels. Before entering private practice, Jennifer gained extensive trial experience as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. She is also a frequent guest speaker and trial advocacy coach at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Jennifer earned her J.D. at the University of Toledo, and her B.S. at the University of Michigan.
Julie Miceli has concentrated experience advising colleges and universities on legal issues related to campus safety, including Title IX, the Clery Act, serving minors and emergency planning and response; financial aid, including Title IV compliance, loan servicing and collections; as well as development matters, including fundraising, major gifts and permissible use of charitable contributions. She also provides legal counsel on issues and litigation related to faculty tenure, student conduct, disability accommodations and employment issues. Before joining Husch Blackwell, Julie served as the deputy general counsel for higher education and federal student aid at the U.S. Department of Education, and prior to that, as the chief of staff and special counsel to the general counsel for that agency. Most recently, Julie served as associate general counsel at Northwestern University, a major research institution in Evanston, Illinois.
Myra Selby, former associate justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, has a broad-based practice with a focus in the areas of corporate internal investigations, appellate practice, compliance counseling, complex litigation, risk management, strategic and other legal advice, based upon an understanding of the related business objectives, across various industry sectors.
She serves in the role of advisor for large institutional clients as well as individuals. She is a trained and experienced commercial mediator and arbitrator.
Myra has the distinction of being both the first woman and the first African American to serve as an associate justice on the Indiana Supreme Court. While on the Court from January 1995-1999, Selby participated in several landmark decisions involving state property taxes, insurance and tort law reform. She authored more than 100 majority opinions receiving national recognition. Selby spearheaded efforts to increase the Court's accessibility to the public by expanding education and outreach activities. In 1999, the Indiana Supreme Court appointed Selby to chair its Commission on Race and Gender Fairness. The commission is charged with ensuring fairness and diversity in the legal system. She continues her tradition of service to the commission as a current member.
Prior to her appointment to the Court, Myra was director of health care policy for the state of Indiana, where she was responsible for policy development and the execution of state health care programs, including Medicaid managed care.
Myra received a Bachelor of Arts from Kalamazoo College in 1977 and a juris doctor from the University of Michigan School of Law in 1980. She is admitted to practice law in the state of Indiana.
Michelle Ruff’s practice presently centers around licensing and compliance. Since 2012 she has served as a legal advisor to corporate counsel and leaders at Amrock, a title and technology company located in Detroit, Michigan. She is heavily relied upon for matters in Texas and is an expert in all matters pertaining to title, curative, real estate and settlement services for the State of Georgia.
Prior to working for Amrock, Michelle was in private practice handling real estate, family, criminal, unemployment appeals, social security appeals and immigration matters. She is a seasoned family law litigator and believes that her civil litigation practice has helped her to skillfully find creative legal solutions to meet complex compliance issues.
She graduated with her B.A. in Communications from Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL in 1996 and with a M.A. in Communications from Morehead State University, Morehead, KY in 1998. A 2001 graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, Michelle participated in the Immigration Clinic as a student; received an award for her public service work; and, was an active member of the Diversity Committee. After graduation, she begin her career working with Farmworker Legal Services in Michigan and proudly continued her non-profit service with Cobb County Legal Aid, a division of Atlanta Legal Aid and the Latin American Association before going into private practice. She is a member of the Kentucky, Michigan and Georgia Bar Associations.
Michelle has put together training materials on cultural sensitivity for guardian ad litems and spoken on the impact of natural disasters on immigrants for young lawyers assisting Hurricane Katrina victims.
Most importantly, Michelle has two adult children, who endured college, graduate and law school with her as a single mother. She is an avid fitness enthusiast who volunteers to teach a workout class to senior citizens in Atlanta, Georgia, where she lives.
Joy joined World Business Chicago (WBC) in July 2014 as a special advisor for international initiatives. She was recruited to WBC to lead the formation of Metro Chicago Exports (MCE), an unprecedented collaboration between the City of Chicago through WBC, and the seven counties in Northeastern Illinois (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will) with the goal of increasing exports from SMEs and supporting regional job growth. After the successful launch of MCE, Joy served as Interim Director/Program Manager of MCE until a permanent managing director was named. Joy also led the recruitment of the Legal Advisory Board comprised of senior leadership from 15 major law firms and 15 general counsels from WBC Board member companies to guide and assist WBC in identifying and navigating legal issues arising out of the Mayor’s Plan for Economic Growth (the “Plan”).
Currently, Joy reports directly to the President/CEO of WBC and functions in various newly-created roles from serving as General Counsel to raising awareness, fundraising, creating, developing and leading strategic initiatives and cultivating new external partnerships to further WBC’s mission to drive inclusive economic growth and job creation, cultivate talent, support businesses, and promote Chicago as a leading global city. Joy also manages the engagement and integration of Legal Advisory Board members and their designated representatives with WBC strategy leaders for the Plan and oversees legal work of the Legal Advisory Board serving as outside counsel to various WBC strategies, initiatives and projects.
Prior to joining WBC, Joy was an attorney at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, where she played an instrumental role in the setting up of Edwards Wildman’s office located in Istanbul, Turkey. Joy also worked with companies interested in doing business in the Central Europe Middle East and North Africa regions and other emerging markets. She recently accompanied the State of Illinois and five Illinois-based companies on a trade mission to Istanbul.
Joy and her family moved to Chicago in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina struck their home in New Orleans, Louisiana. Joy has spent the past eight years in Chicago practicing law with Edwards Wildman Palmer and Kirkland and Ellis LLP. As an attorney, Joy has over a decade of experience counseling national and international clients in a wide variety of litigation, corporate restructuring and insolvency matters, and global and cross-border corporate transactions. Joy has represented clients covering a wide span of industries including airlines, automotive, banking, energy, entertainment, food processing, hospitality, gaming, infrastructure, manufacturing, real estate, retail, shipyards, telecommunications and utilities. Prior to her legal career, Joy served in various roles at the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Joy earned her J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University, her Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University, and her Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University. Joy also attended the London School of Economics and earned a General Course Certificate in International Politics and Economics.
Reena Jashnani-Slusarz is the Deputy General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer at Elementum. Reena has advised on legal issues relating to alternative investments and investment advisory services since 2006. Prior to joining Elementum, Reena was a Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for Mesirow Advanced Strategies, Inc. where she, along with the general counsel, was responsible for all legal affairs including providing legal advice with respect to all aspects of its business, directing relationships with external counsel, and assisting in maintaining its operations in compliance with relevant legal and regulatory requirements. Prior to joining Mesirow, Reena was an associate at Sidley Austin LLP where she serviced a variety of direct trading and fund-of-funds managers with respect to legal, regulatory, and compliance matters. Reena earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois.
Tiffany S. Fordyce is Co-Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s Workforce Compliance & Regulatory Enforcement group. She concentrates her practice on commercial litigation, with an emphasis on labor and employment. Her employment litigation practice includes virtually all types of discrimination and retaliation claims, wage and hour claims, trade secret misappropriation claims, whistleblower claims, restrictive covenants, Fair Credit Reporting Act claims, and WARN Act claims. Tiffany defends both single plaintiff and class action employment cases. Tiffany represents employers in federal, state and administrative courts, as well as before administrative agencies.
As Director of Business Development for Counsel On Call, Cherisse Lake works collaboratively with in-house legal departments and law firms to manage their legal and compliance matters and create effective and economical business and legal solutions. She works with clients in the Midwest and is based in Chicago.
Cherisse has served in consulting and business development roles in the legal industry for more than 10 years. Prior to joining Counsel On Call, she was the Director of Business Development for an international provider of eDiscovery, data management and managed review services for law firms and corporations. She was also previously with Thomson Reuters Expert Witness Services where she was named Business Development Executive of the Year in 2013 and 2012.
Before jumping into business development in the legal industry, Cherisse spent almost seven years as a litigation attorney in Chicago.
Executive at the intersection of financial services and technology. Seasoned member of C-suite known for sound business judgment. Expertise in domestic and international M&A, finance, regulatory affairs, compliance leadership, human capital, strategy development/execution, crisis management/high-risk litigation, corporate governance and fiduciary duties, process improvements. Experienced member of boards of directors of for-profit companies. Interested in C-suite and Board opportunities.
Driven corporate attorney with substantial in-house and large firm experience. Accomplished team leader and trusted advisor to business executives. Skilled in negotiating and drafting complex commercial agreements. Dedicated to continuous process improvement for both law department and cross-functional business processes. Proven ability to deliver practical solutions for achievement of business objectives in a fast moving environment.
Areas of expertise include sophisticated commercial transactions, corporate finance, real estate, logistics and supply chain, trademarks, e-commerce, regulatory compliance, and private foundation work.
General counsel with deep expertise in complex and sensitive matters requiring sophisticated and sound legal and business judgment. Ability to successfully partner with C-level management and sales/product teams and build key client relationships. Essential partner in shaping business strategy and identifying risks. Effective leadership style in managing diverse teams and collaborating with stakeholders. Creative problem solver and solution-oriented fixer.
Lorraine M. Tyson focuses her practice on corporate finance, privatization and public finance transactions. She represents insurance companies, pension funds, banks, finance companies and other institutional investors on corporate finance transactions. Lorraine has acted as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, remarketing agent counsel, issuer's counsel or letter of credit counsel in connection with financings by the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, the Regional Transportation Authority, the Illinois Finance Authority, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Cook County, Illinois and the Board of Education of the City of Chicago.
Kathy Ehrhart is a Partner in the Litigation Practice Group and member of the Insurance/Reinsurance Team. Kathy has acted as trial and appellate counsel in arbitrations and litigations in federal and state courts throughout the United States, representing a variety of corporations, business and professional firms. Her areas of focus include complex commercial and class action, reinsurance, antitrust, securities fraud, accountant liability, employment, restrictive covenants and breach of contract claims. She has extensive experience working with executives, senior management and in-house counsel of corporations in managing litigation as well as advising on litigation risks and strategy.
Roxy Bargoz is VP of Legal and Operations at Amount, a technology company focused on helping financial institutions digitize their credit offerings. In her current role, Roxy oversees all aspects of legal at Amount and is also focused on establishing the internal infrastructure and processes necessary to scale the business.
Prior to joining Amount, Roxy worked in private practice at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, representing lenders, borrowers, issuers, underwriters and placement agents in the securitization industry on a variety of transactions, including asset-backed and mortgage-backed public, 144A and private securities offerings, secured warehouse lending facilities, asset-backed credit facilities and term loans, term note and variable funding note offerings, print and advertising (P&A) film financings, mortgage loan and securities repurchase finance facilities, commercial loan transactions and cross-border securitizations.
Roxy received a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with highest honors and a J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where she served on Law Review.
Dana Henderson is Chief Counsel- Technology, Data Privacy & Security for US LBM. Prior to joining US LBM, Dana was Associate General Counsel at Experian Health. Dana received her J.D. from the Universoty of Illinois College of Law.
Maya Ewing is Director and Senior Managing Counsel at Allstate Insurance Company in Northbrook, Illinois. In her current role, Ewing leads the Employment and Benefits Team responsible for employment-related litigation and for providing legal counsel to Human Resources and Allstate business units.
Ewing joined Allstate in 2002 and has held a variety of positions in Corporate Litigation, Corporate Law and Insurance Operations Law divisions, while successfully directing several key initiatives for the corporation. During her tenure at Allstate, Ewing has led a multitude of employment class action litigation and complex insurance business initiatives, as well as co-chaired the law department’s Inclusive Diversity Council.
Earlier in her career, Ewing built a foundation for her career at Allstate through legal practice with a Chicago-based law firm and the U.S. Department of Labor Solicitor’s Office. Ewing holds a B.A. degree in English from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale and a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Clients depend on Elizabeth Cummings to use her experience and client-centered approach to help them navigate litigation related to products liability and allegedly toxic substances. She represents business of all types and sizes, including manufacturers, suppliers and premises owners. By partnering with the companies she represents to develop and implement proactive and efficient strategies, Elizabeth is able to assist her clients in navigating toxic and mass tort litigation in some of the country's most challenging jurisdictions. She understands that the successful defense of clients takes place both inside and outside the courtroom. She works with clients to evaluate their risks and develop a comprehensive litigation strategy that takes all of their interests into account. Elizabeth has experience in all phases of litigation, including extensive deposition experience, drafting and arguing pre-trial and dispositive motions, and participating in mediation and trial.
First and foremost, Meghan McMeel is a litigator. She relishes the role of courtroom advocate and approaches every aspect of the job with equal measures of tenacity and common sense. Having entered the field of product liability early in her career, she possesses as much trial experience as many lawyers with considerably more seniority.
Meghan always enjoys taking on new missions and new responsibilities, tackling them with confidence and working hard until every issue is resolved. She has extensive experience advising manufacturers with product-liability issues, successfully defending their products and reporting to government agencies. She has represented large corporations at trial, filing evidentiary motions, preparing witnesses, and arguing motions. She has handled litigation for multiple product manufacturers, including day-to-day litigation, mediation, expert preparation, discovery issues, motion practice, and settlement negotiations.
But she doesn’t stop there. Meghan has experience in intellectual property and employment disputes and advises, investigates, and litigates Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases.
Although she’s a tireless advocate, Meghan also believes in the power and value of good-faith negotiation. And while she realizes that the judicious application of a carefully measured amount of whiskey and water may not solve most problems, it never hurts to try.
Jen Dlugosz is a hands-on litigator who defends businesses in toxic tort and product liability matters in some of the most dangerous jurisdictions across the United States. Often taking a lead role in toxic tort cases in the Chicago area, Jen has served as national coordinating counsel for toxic tort claims and defended clients in repetitive litigation and pre-litigation claims stemming from product liability issues and recalls. Jen’s experience also includes commercial litigation, white collar investigations, insurance litigation and contract disputes.
Christie Bolsen Benear is Corporate Counsel at Glanbia Performance Nutrition, a global business with industry leading brands including Optimum Nutrition, BSN, ABB (American Body Building), Isopure, thinkThin, Amazing Grass, and most recently SlimFast. She focuses on all aspects labor & employment, providing counsel, global legal support, and training in areas including hiring practices, performance management and discipline, investigation of employee complaints, employee leaves of absence and requests for accommodation, compliance with all federal, state, and international employment laws, and more. She also drafts and reviews workplace policies and contracts, including non-competition agreements and severance agreements. In addition, she works on employee claims at all stages, from threats of legal action to charges of discrimination to litigation.
Prior to going in house, Christie gained experience in litigation and labor & employment law in various law firms, beginning her career at Winston & Strawn in Chicago. While working at firms, her practice included auditor liability, class actions, pharmaceutical and technological patent litigation, securities litigation, civil rights disputes, and other complex commercial litigation, in addition to extensive experience with all aspects of labor & employment cases including wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and failure to accommodate.
Christie graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in political science and philosophy with a minor in journalism, and graduated cum laude from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Liz Walker spent over a decade as litigation counsel representing various companies and insurance carriers in complex coverage matters. Over the course of her career, she not only served as outside counsel representing insurers, but also worked in-house managing mass litigation claims and coverage communications for a global insurance company.
In 2013, she changed roles to join an insured, Chicago tech company, Groupon, Inc., managing Groupon’s interests in various litigation and pre-litigation matters. Groupon is a mobile and online marketplace where people discover and save on amazing things to do, see, eat and buy.
After 3 ½ years in Groupon’s legal department, Liz reinvented her career by developing, then filling, her current role managing Groupon’s global insurance and enterprise risk. She is also a very active member of the Chicago Chapter of the Risk & Insurance Management Society and a member of the Chicagoland Risk Forum committee – the committee that plans the Chicago Chapter’s annual risk conference.
Liz also speaks at various risk and insurance conferences on subjects including cyber risk coverage, the future of insurance, and how to internally market yourself to achieve risk management success. In December 2018, Business Insurance named Liz as an Honoree of the 2018 Women to Watch Award.
Amanda Demas is responsible for all the legal affairs of BMO Harris Financial Advisors and BMO Harris Investment Distributors. BMO Harris Financial Advisors is a U.S. retail broker-dealer, registered investment advisory, and insurance broker, and BMO Investment Distributors is a U.S. limited broker-dealer responsible for distributing the BMO mutual funds. Both entities are divisions of the Bank of Montreal. Prior to BMO, Amanda was Assistant General Counsel for Chase Wealth Management.
Maureen is a Director in Uber Technologies, Inc.’s (Uber) safety and insurance team where she has worked over the past three and a half years. She manages litigation and high exposure claims arising out Uber’s general and auto liability insurance policies in the United States and Canada. She also regularly counsels the business on risk mitigation as well as safety and legal best practices. In addition to her legal capacities, she is a dedicated people manager who is lucky to oversee an incredible team of over 30 legal professionals that continues to innovate in this industry. Prior to her role at Uber, Maureen worked in a commercial transportation litigation group at the office of SmithAmundsen, LLC in Chicago, Illinois after launching her career as a trial lawyer at the office of Parillo, Weiss, & O’Halloran where she first chaired more than 40 trials to verdict. She believes strong in Uber’s mission to ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion and that insurance is a critical part of that mission.
Alejandra Garcia Earley handles financing, development, and management of domestic and international power, energy, and infrastructure-related projects, as well as other corporate matters. She also structures, drafts, and leads negotiations for transaction documents related to project finance, investment tax credit, and mid and large cap leveraged transactions. She represents clients from a wide range of industries including financial institutions, developers, sponsors, lenders, and asset owners in the power industry.
Renee Lewis is a partner in Holland & Knight's Chicago office and a member of the firm's Financial Services Practice Group. Ms. Lewis advises company executives and owners on strategically structuring complex financing transactions. Her practice focuses on counsel for financial institutions, privately held companies and trustees in the structuring, negotiation and documentation of employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transactions, which may entail leveraged buyouts, equity repurchases and corporate reorganizations.
Ms. Lewis's substantial corporate compliance and transactional experience includes:
As Corporate - IP counsel for Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas (headquartered in London, England), Sara is responsible for mobilizing innovation, directing IP strategy, building, managing, protecting and leveraging Tate & Lyle’s worldwide patent assets for the Specialty Food Ingredients, Innovation & Commercial Development, Bulk Ingredients and Food Systems business units. She is also involved in various aspects of corporate IP practice, including IP agreements, technology licensing, IP due diligence for M&A transactions, open innovation matters and IP dispute resolution. Prior to joining Tate & Lyle, she was a partner in the IP group of the national law firm of Quarles & Brady. She is a registered patent attorney with over 15 years of patent prosecution and complex portfolio Management experience, specializing in the biochemical and biotech industries. She earned a B.S. in biochemistry from Trinity University in Texas, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Marquette University. Besides her children, one of her prized accomplishments as an attorney was being invited to speak at the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 to share her expertise with the nation's policy makers in the area of patenting structural genomics and proteomics.
Perving Taleyarkhan is Legal Counsel at Whirlpool. Her experience includes IP strategy, contract negotiation, as well as litigation. Prior to Whirlpool she served as Legal Associate in the IP legal team at Purdue University. She earned her BSChE in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and her J.D. from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney, School of Law. Pervin is actively involved in the American Bar Association, where she serves on the Editorial Board of the ABA Journal, and is also Editor-in-Chief of the Young Lawyer Division (ABA YLD)'s flagship The Young Lawyer. She is currently Vice Chair of the IP Law Section of the ABA YLD. In addition, Pervin is active in the ABA IP Law Section in various capacities, including work on the Editorial Board of the ABA IPL Section's Landslide magazine and chairing the Section's In-house IP Committee. She is also serving on the IP Counsel at the State Bar of Michigan and the Board of Directors for the Michigan Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). At the regional level, Pervin co-chairs the ACC's Southwest Michigan Committee.
Andrea is USA Financial’s chief legal and compliance officer and handles the firm’s litigation and IP matters in conjunction with outside counsel, as well as all regulatory compliance and corporate governance issues. Andrea prides herself on developing relationships with USA Financial’s advisors and clients and breaking down antiquated compliance stereotypes.
Named to USA Financial’s board of directors at 26, Andrea has helped USA Financial grow its corporate subsidiary structure and had direct involvement in the creation of three new companies, two of which are registered investment advisers that manage a billion dollars in assets. She oversees the legal and compliance operations for three registered investment advisers, a broker-dealer, an insurance wholesaler, and two marketing and media companies. Andrea has been featured in various industry publications including ThinkAdvisor, Compliance Week, and InvestmentNews. She recently launched UnNiched, an initiative and podcast focused on supporting women professionals in the financial industry with an aim to dismantling the notion that women are a small, recessed segment of the population.
Andrea received a B.S. in broadcast journalism from Michigan State University and a J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law where she participated in moot court and received oral advocacy honors. Andrea was a full-ride scholarship athlete and swam for both Texas A&M University and Michigan State University. She worked as a reporter for Fox Sports during college and law school and turned down an on-air reporter position for ABC 53 in Lansing to pursue her legal career.
TALITA RAMOS ERICKSON is General Counsel (Americas) & CEO Barilla Restaurants, for the Barilla Group, the Italian food company. In her legal capacity, she manages legal, compliance, and crisis management for the Region, with focus on U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Mexico. Since 2018, she has an additional business role managing the company’s restaurants division. From 2013 to 2016, she served as Barilla’s first Global Chief Diversity Officer, leading the company’s Global D&I Board and managing the implementation of a comprehensive Global D&I program.
She currently serves on the Board of The Cradle, a non-for-profit that advances the well-being of children by compassionately delivering exceptional education, guidance and lifelong support to build, preserve and strengthen their families. She also serves on the national Board for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), a non-profit dedicated to the employment, development, and advancement of current and aspiring Latino professionals.
Prior to joining Barilla, she had work and academic experiences in Brazil, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, including several positions during her 10-year tenure at Kraft Foods.
She holds a J.D. from Federal University of Paraná (Brazil), an LL. M. in Business Law from Loyola University of Chicago, and an M.B.A. from University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She is licensed to practice law in Brazil, New York, and Illinois.
Laura Anderson is an associate at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP in Chicago, where she serves on the firm’s recruiting committee. She concentrates her practice in general tort litigation with a special interest in representing physicians, hospitals, and healthcare providers in cases involving alleged medical negligence. Laura has served as trial counsel in cases taken through verdict before juries throughout the Chicagoland area, including Cook County and Will County. In both a local and national setting, she works with executives, senior management, and in-house counsel of corporations and hospitals in managing litigation as well as advising on litigation risks and strategy.
Laura is active in charitable work and has spent several years on the executive committee of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundations’ Associates Board. Following law school, Laura served a two-year term as Judicial Clerk to the Honorable William D. Maddux while he was the Presiding Judge of the Law Division for the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Madina Axelrod concentrates her practice on product liability, toxic tort and commercial litigation. She handles these matters from inception to trial, including conducting and defending depositions, arguing motions, and resolving matters through negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Ms. Axelrod has obtained numerous dismissals for equipment manufacturers in commercial and toxic tort actions.
Ms. Axelrod serves as National Coordinating Counsel ("NCC"), Regional Counsel and local counsel for multinational equipment manufacturers and other defendants in asbestos litigation. As NCC, she manages nationwide asbestos litigation, develops strategy, creates budgets, prepares corporate witnesses for deposition, coordinates expert and fact witness discovery, and conducts settlement negotiations.
Upon obtaining her Juris Doctor from the Moscow State Academy of Law in 1997, Ms. Axelrod practiced law in Moscow, Russia serving as in-house counsel for Russia’s largest brewing company. In 2002, Ms. Axelrod obtained her LL.M degree from Cornell Law School. Ms. Axelrod’s education and work experience allow her to provide the firm’s clients with a broad range of legal services pertaining to international law and Russian civil procedure, intellectual property, and commercial and labor law.
Since 2014, Ms. Axelrod has been a member of Segal McCambridge’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and in 2018 was appointed Chairperson. She is a committed advocate for those without access to legal resources. As a volunteer for inMotion, Ms. Axelrod counsels and represents women in New York City regarding various legal matters. She also represents homeless individuals through her involvement with H.E.L.P. New York.
Ken Williams is a shareholder in Segal McCambridge's Michigan office where he concentrates his practice in the insurance coverage and premises liability arenas. His litigation work has included no-fault first and third party cases and uninsured and underinsured cases.
Mr. Williams is also a participant, speaker and writer for the firm's Technology & Cyber Risk Practice Group. He participates in consulting and research on current and upcoming industry trends, technology, standards, best practices, concepts and solutions for risk management and compliance. Mr. Williams is also available to serve as a consult in cyber risk management. His additional areas of expertise focus on insurance coverage and claim analysis for insurance carriers and private clients
Joining the firm as a lateral hire in 2017, Mr. Williams came to Segal McCambridge with career experience as a dedicated litigator. He has sophisticated familiarity trying cases in courtrooms across the state of Michigan with a marked history trying cases which resulted in defense verdicts. He also has litigated matters in Illinois and Florida. In addition to his notable trial work, Mr. Williams has significant experience at the appellate level, including post appellate-submission work which includes oral argument before the Michigan Court of Appeals. Mr. Williams has also served as firm managing attorney and lead trial counsel throughout his work as a trial attorney.
Before joining Segal McCambridge, Mr. Williams was a shareholder in a Michigan civil defense firm. His previous work also includes time as an in-house staff attorney and as a litigation specialist/ consultant for two national insurance groups where he had significant jury trial experience and where he managed catastrophic claims and high exposure files.
Mr. Williams attended law school at Wayne State University and received his B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is also an active member of the firm's Diversity & Inclusion Committee, often being called up to speak on relevant topics at outside conferences and seminars. Outside of work, Mr. Williams spends his time strength training and practicing yoga. He enjoys movies and writing fictional pieces.
Ashleigh Johnson is a partner in Foley & Mansfield’s St. Louis office. She practices in toxic and mass tort defense, with an emphasis on asbestos litigation, in addition to employment law and litigation.
Ashleigh also has a background in litigation relating to fiduciary breaches and prohibited transactions under ERISA, specific to 401(k) plan formation, plan document adherence, and fiduciary responsibilities relating to investment fund selection and management, and has participated in FINRA arbitration cases. Additionally, she has worked on sexual harassment and wrongful termination cases.
Ashleigh received her Juris Doctorate in 2007 from the Saint Louis University School of Law. While there, she interned at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois and received her mediation certification. Additionally, she received the Dean’s Scholarship and was the recipient of a Public Interest Law Group Fellowship. She also served as an Ambassador to Potential New Faculty, a Teaching Assistant for Family Law, and worked as a Faculty Fellow for the Head of the Employment Law Center, conducting research on employment law related issues, including the use of arbitration clauses in employment contracts.
Within the firm, Ashleigh serves as the St. Louis partner coordinator for continuing legal education programs, and as the representative to the firm's mentoring committee, mentoring younger attorneys and sharing best practices across the firm.
Ashleigh volunteers her time with the American Lung Association and is the past chair of the Volunteer Leadership Council for the American Lung Association in St. Louis. She has previously volunteered as a Relay for Life Team Captain for the American Cancer Society and participated in the Walk to Defeat ALS.
Ashleigh is the owner of two rescue cats, Ziggy and Dinah
Prior to joining United, Javaria was a litigation associate with the firm Pugh, Jones & Johnson. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa.
Lauren Schwarts is a trusted legal adviser with experience counseling C-Suite executives and other senior leadership on the issues that matter most to them. She has worked in a wide variety of settings, providing me with a unique point of view on today’s most cutting-edge legal issues. Lauren distills and translates complex legal and technical concepts into understandable and relatable advice. She is a creative strategist, laser-focused on getting the best results for my client and have a proven track record of mitigating risk, limiting exposure, and turning potential losses into wins for the business. Business leaders know they can rely on Lauren for creative solutions to their most pressing concerns—and that is both fulfilling and exciting.
An experienced and proven attorney with an established record of excellence. Utilize expertise gained from more than 20 years of successful practice, with particular emphasis on corporate law. A trusted and passionate counselor who relentlessly protects and promotes the rights of clients and business units.
Extensive experience and demonstrated success as general counsel with expertise in overseeing legal affairs for public and private companies. Superior knowledge of contract negotiations with high-tech firms as well as corporate restructuring strategies. Maintain professional relationships with clients, co-workers and management to structure “win-win” agreements which are still protective of the company’s interests and assets. Exceptionally proficient at high-tech service contracting within telecom and technology companies. Committed to promoting understanding of legal language, issues or concerns. Lead by example to instill confidence and continually enhance processes, procedures and revenue.