Summer Edition 2017, Vol. 37, Issue 1    
Welcome to a New Membership Year of MDFAWL!
By the way . . . have you renewed your membership? Not sure? Need to join?

It's quick and easy. You can sign up or renew here. If you need or prefer a paper application, you can find one here. Have questions? Please contact our Membership Committee Co-chairs, Angela Benjamin and Liana De La Noval, at

We look forward to sharing with you another great year of informative, meaningful, and groundbreaking programming!

MDFAWL 37th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner 
A Night in Paris

By Jody Shulman
Installation of Officers and Directors by Hon. Victoria Platzer (Ret.).  
On Thursday, June 8, 2017, MDFAWL welcomed its incoming Officers and Directors at the 37th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner, "A Night in Paris." This was the first time the décor was theme-based. All enjoyed the eight-foot Eiffel Tower, the fleur-de-lis lights, photo booth, and many other touches that gave this years' event a fresh new look. This could not have occurred without the support of our 33 sponsors. Special thanks to our Title Sponsor, Shubin & Bass as well as our Grand Benefactors: Arnstein & Lehr; Berger Singerman; Cole Scott & Kissane; DLA Piper; DLD Lawyers; Greenberg Traurig; Greenspoon Marder; Shook Hardy & Bacon; Shutts & Bowen; Weil Gotshal; and Wicker Smith.

Incoming President, Katie Phang, giving closing remarks at the Installation.
The night began with a lovely invocation from the Honorable Beth Bloom, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, and Welcome remarks from Rebecca Ocariz, outgoing President of MDFAWL. Rebecca received a well-deserved, standing ovation for all her accomplishments throughout the 2016-2017 year: in particular, the creation of the "GOOD" Guys program, an initiative that addresses gender bias in the legal profession, in addition to countless other activities in support of the eradication of gender bias.

The Mattie Belle Davis Award is given each year to a recipient who is an MDFAWL member committed to the advancement of women in the legal profession and to achieving gender equality. This year's recipient was Deborah Baker-Egozi, shareholder at the law firm of Greenspoon Marder. Deborah is a Past President of MDFAWL and is currently an elected member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors. During her tenure as MDFAWL President, she was instrumental in Florida's enactment of a "revenge porn" bill that makes it illegal to post sexually explicit photos or videos of people on websites without their permission. Deborah is a tireless advocate in making others aware of the importance of supporting qualified women of color trying to ascend to the bench, and she has been a vocal supporter of the proposed Parental Leave Rule.

The entire evening was high energy, with the perfect mix of substantive programming and networking with colleagues and friends. MDFAWL is looking forward to another amazing year, with Katie Phang as its leader and President.

Friends of MDFAWL Award recipients
on behalf of their law firms and organizations.

Women Making History
Honoring County Attorney Abigail Price-Williams and Awarding Scholarships to Outstanding Law Students

By Stephanie Moot
MDFAWL's 2017 Women Making History Award Recipient, Abigail Price-Williams (second from left), with her family.
On March 22, 2017, MDFAWL hosted its annual Women Making History event at HistoryMiami Museum. During the event, we presented scholarship awards to ten well-de serving law students who have demonstrated a passion for helping those in need. 

MDFAWL again congratulates the scholarship winners and extend our gratitude to the generous donors for their continued support for MDFAWL and its mission:
  • Elaine Wood - Alexandra Bach Lagos Scholarship 
  • Kiana Courtney- Lara Bueso Bach Scholarship
  • Louise Harrigan - Jason E. Bloch Scholarship in Honor of Lody Jean
  • India Prather - Jason E. Bloch Scholarship in Honor of Lody Jean
  • Erika Hernandez - Judge Gill Freeman Scholarship
  • Chantelle Melendez - Friend of Linda Dakis and Pemberton Scholarship
  • Juliee Conde Medina - Gamba, Lombana & Herrera, P.A. Scholarship
  • Shannon McGee -  Jeannie Perwin Memorial Scholarship
  • Tatyana Krimus- Shubin & Bass, P.A. Scholarship
  • Raven King - Sonny Yahr Scholarship
MDFAWL also had the privilege of presenting the 2017 Women Making History Award to Abigail Price-Williams, who has served as the Miami-Dade County Attorney since October 2015. Ms. Price-Williams is the County's first female and first African-American attorney to hold this position. As County Attorney, Ms. Price-Williams oversees 134 employees, including over 70 lawyers.The Office handles extensive litigation in state and federal courts and transactional matters in a multitude of substantive civil areas, including: construction and commercial litigation; real estate and commercial transactions; appeals; employment and labor law; workers' compensation; environmental, land use and zoning law; eminent domain; transportation law; bankruptcy; municipal finance; taxation; health law; and tort liability and medical malpractice. In addition, Ms. Price-Williams provides legal counsel to the 13-member Board of County Commissioners, the Mayor, the Property Appraiser, the Public Health Trust, 25 County departments, and numerous County boards, agencies, and councils. She previously served as First Assistant County Attorney, second in command to the County Attorney, from 2007-2015, and she held the position of Acting County Attorney in 2007. 
During her 26-year tenure at the County Attorney's Office, Ms. Price-Williams also served as the head lawyer of the satellite offices at the Miami International Airport and the Public Health Trust, where she was responsible for the legal representation of those entities and for managing the day-to-day operations of the satellite offices. She has represented the County in litigation and appeals and drafted and reviewed numerous ordinances, resolutions and contracts. Ms. Price-Williams joined the County Attorney's Office in 1990 with extensive supervisory and jury trial experience, having tried numerous homicide and capital sexual battery cases as an Assistant State Attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit for five years. She graduated with Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude honors from Howard University in 1981 with a B.A. in Political Science, and in 1984, she earned her J.D. from the University of Miami.
In addition to practicing law, Ms. Price-Williams represents children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected as a long-time Board member of the Voices for Children Foundation and has served as both a pro bono Guardian Ad Litem attorney and volunteer lay guardian. She has received numerous awards and honors and is widely recognized for her pro bono work and community service. Ms. Price-Williams is a member of her Church's Marriage Enrichment Ministry and teaches Sunday School to elementary students. She has been married to Steven Williams for 30 years, and they have a son and a new grandson.
Congratulations again to Ms. Price-Williams on making history through all of her accomplishments!  She is an inspiration to all women.
We would also like to thank again our sponsors for the event:  Shubin & Bass, Arnstein & Lehr, Greenberg Traurig, and HistoryMiami.  This complimentary event was possible through their generous support.

MDFAWL 35th Annual Judicial Reception 
Save the Date: Thursday, December 7, 2017 | JW Marriott Marquis

MDFAWL thanks these firms that have committed to sponsoring the 2017 Judicial Reception:
Interested in sponsoring the Judicial Reception? Please visit our website or email
Stay tuned for registration details. We look forward to celebrating with you in December!
Can You Spot Your Implicit Biases?
An Interactive Session on Unconscious Bias and
Fostering Inclusive Workplaces

By Amber Kornreich and Rebecca Ocariz

Lara Bueso Bach and Raoul Cantero.
On June 29, 2017, MDFAWL partnered with White & Case to ho st Can You Spot Your Implicit Biases? An Interactive Session on Unconscious Bias at the scenic White & Case office overlooking Biscayne Bay in Downtown Miami. The event was part of MDFAWL's GOOD Guys Initiative aimed at overcoming gender bias and increasing opportunities for women to succeed in the legal profession.
The program began with a presentation by Former Florida Supreme Court Justice and MDFAWL GOOD Guy, Raoul Cantero. Former Justice Cantero discussed his own personal experiences encountering bias on and off the bench. Justice Cantero explained:
"Our unconscious biases prevent us from maximizing our effectiveness as managers, as team leaders, as mentors and supervisors, and even as counselors to our clients.  Biases exist regarding race and gender, but also along a whole spectrum of differences between people-such as age, culture, and geographic background.  They can prevent us from hiring the best people, including them on our teams, and promoting them.  They can prevent us from communicating with and understanding our clients.  And they can prevent us from achieving the success we strive for.  Acknowledging these biases is the first step to eliminating them altogether."
After the Justice's insightful remarks, a theater company from London, Steps Learning and Development, put on a humorous and poignant skit about the potential for workplace bias in a law firm. There were characters modeled after partners, associates, and staff, and each character had a unique perspective on setbacks- big and small- they experienced as a result of unintentional biases.
Following the skit, the audience engaged with the actors and brainstormed strategies with one another for how to overcome some of these all too commonplace workplace struggles. There were Judges, partners, and associates from all around the city in attendance, and everyone who participated related to the performance in a distinct way.
Although there is work still to be done, the Implicit Bias Program was one of the highlights of MDFAWL's summer programming and effectively sparked dialogue about how to break down barriers to equality and to create more inclusive workplaces for all.

Technology, Ethics, and the Art of Lawyering in the Digital Age
Serving Up a Side of Ethics and Technology CLE Credits to MDFAWL Members

By Haley Moss and Elisa D'Amico

(L-R): Ellen Kruk, Marissa Shulman, Haley Moss, Prof. Jan Jacobowitz, Elisa D'Amico.
Each year, MDFAWL hosts a social media and ethics CLE program with our friends at Miami Law School's Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program  ("PREP"). PREP provides a platform for law school students to interact with attorneys, judges, and legal professionals regarding the ethical challenges that confront the profession today. PREP's Director, Professor Jan Jacobowitz  , has presented more than 100 PREP ethics CLE seminars, and MDFAWL is thrilled to be responsible for a handful of those seminars. Each year as we continue our partnership with PREP, law students are given the opportunity to lecture to and educate MDFAWL members about developments in technology law and ethics. This year, for the first time since The Florida Supreme Court adopted a rule (effective Jan. 1, 2017) requiring lawyers to take 3 CLE courses in technology, MDFAWL hosted this lunchtime program where attendees were awarded both technology and ethics credits.

On Thursday, April 13, 2017, PREP interns Haley Moss and Marissa Shulman, as well as PREP fellow Ellen Kruk, presented the MDFAWL program "Technology, Ethics, and the Art of Lawyering in the Digital Age." The program explored on ethical challenges that lawyers confront on a daily basis with a focus on technological challenges. The trio discussed attorney advertising as it relates to social media, how to ethically and effectively use technology in the practice of law, as well as the recent ABA resolution aimed at ending sexism in the practice of law, a must-know not only for female lawyers, but for all lawyers.

Shulman, who presented a piece on cybersecurity and technology issues, said: "As more and more confidential information is stored on personal laptops, flash drives, and the cloud, cybersecurity is more important than ever before. It was a great experience to see the spectrum of technological knowledge in the audience."

And Moss, who spoke about a variety of social media issues, such as attorney use of LinkedIn as well as the unique issues of work-life balance and discrimination that women lawyers face, remarked: "I especially enjoyed our conversation about women's issues. The MDFAWL members all had unique perspectives on issues of sexism and being treated differently within the profession by virtue of being a woman."

The feedback from attendees was that the presentation was rich with practical information and thoughtful insight. MDFAWL is thankful for Professor Jacobowitz for the organization's continued partnership with PREP, and to Moss, Shulman, and Kruk for their hard work preparing for and presenting to MDFAWL. And a big thanks to K&L Gates LLP who hosted the program for the third year in a row.

A note about PREP:

PREP is an award-winning program, which develops continuing legal education ethics trainings for the legal community. The program combines the attributes of an ethics institute and an ethics clinic, and has dedicated hundreds of student hours to public service and has educated thousands of members of the Bench & Bar. During CLE trainings, students are often able to make a positive impact on attendees by prompting them to consider and reconsider their approaches to challenging ethical dilemmas arising in the practice of law.

In 2012, PREP was recognized by the American Bar Association with its  E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award-the leading national award recognizing programs and projects contributing to the understanding and development of professionalism among attorneys and judges. In addition to presenting ethics trainings, throughout the semester PREP students publish blog posts regarding the nation's newest ethics opinions. The PREP blog, Legal Ethics in Motion, can be found  here.

New Judges Reception
Meeting and Greeting with Miami-Dade County's Newest Members of the Judiciary

By Jennifer Ruiz and Amber Kornreich

On May 11, 2017, MDFAWL hosted a New
(L-R) Judges Gina Beovides, Marcia Del Rey, Abby Cynamon, and Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts.
Judges Reception honoring newly elected, appointed, and elevated Judges. The Judges and MDFAWL members watched the sun set on the Langford Rooftop while enjoying great appetizers and refreshments. Laughs and new friendships ensued as attendees celebrated the accomplishments of the New Judges.

The purpose of the event was to welcome the New Judges to the MDFAWL community and to increase membership in MDFAWL. Each Judge in attendance walked away with a Swag Bag with all the latest MDFAWL giveaways and had the opportunity to learn about the organization's mission to advance women in the law. The MDFAWL Membership Committee helped recruit new members and educated attendees about MDFAWL Programming.

Event Chair Jennifer Ruiz said: "The Reception was a fun way to celebrate and welcome our new judges - I think we should continue this tradition every year." MDFAWL thanks all of its new as well as former members that attended the event, and looks forward to hosting future receptions for new judges.

Wonder Woman a Blockbuster with MDFAWL
A Saturday Family-Friendly Afternoon at the Movies

By Lara Bueso Bach

Future MDFAWL members Megan Egozi and JoJo D'Amic o enjoying Wonder Woman.
A group of MDFAWL members and their families gathered for a private screening of Wonder Woman in Coconut Grove. In an effort to celebrate this female-led blockbuster and demonstrate to our children that women are also heroines, MDFAWL hosted this fun and free event.  
A dozen children (and their MDFAWL parents) joined the private screening. Personally, the film achieved its desired effect for my three-year old daughter. She now talks incessantly about becoming a superhero. She has put down the dolls (for admittedly short periods of time) and rides through the house on an imaginary horse, wielding her sword, with the intent of saving the world. If our children have the opportunity to see more women in these types of roles, they may be able to shake those implicit biases that women are not typically superheroes (or engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc.).  
Thank you to all of those members who joined and Patty Jenkins (Director) for this stellar film. Given Wonder Woman's domestic box office results - $350 million and counting-the film is on track to become the summer's biggest domestic hit. We sure hope to see more female-led action stars coming to a theater near you.

Shadowboxing & Circuit Training
Round 13 Delivers High-Intensity Morning of Fitness under the Sun

By Carolina S. Piñero

On April 8, 2017, MDFAWL's Character and Fitness Committee teamed up with Round 13 for a morning of high intensity workouts in David T. Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove. The class, led by Co-Owners and Trainers Curtis Smotryski and Gaby Fioravanti of Round 13, focused on circuit training drills combined with shadowboxing moves.
Round 13 is a Miami-based start-up company dedicated to providing personal training and boot camp classes to clients interested in boxing-style workouts. This Miami startup caters to its clients by designing a personalized workout and bringing the workout to the client providing all necessary equipment including gloves, jump ropes, cones, and agility training ladders.

After an intense hour and a half of throwing countless punches, jumproping, squatting, and push-ups, members were treated to cold-pressed juices from Naked Juice. Overall, it was an energizing morning of cardio and conditioning where each member in attendance burnt over 500 calories and woke up deliciously sore the next day!  
  MDFAWL members getting in the zone with Round 13!
For more information on Round 13, please contact Curtis Smotryski (786)702-0023 or Gaby Fioravanti (305)744-1665.
Mother's Day Kickboxing and Self-Defense Seminar
Hosted by MDFAWL and Property & Casualty Law Group

By Vannessa Mari- Milhem

On May 13, 2017, MDFAWL and Property & Casualty Law Group co-hosted a pre-Mother's Day event open to all ladies, their super moms, kids, and best friends. In addition to a fun morning, the event was also used to rally sponsors to donate to the Lotus House.

The seminar was held at Evolution MMA, an academy located in the Kendall area of Miami, which helmed by expert instructors in the fields of kickboxing, MMA, jiu-jitsu, and self-defense. Dan Monteleone and his team have worked with many well-respected agencies, military personnel, and professional athletes, and strive to provide the knowledge necessary to reach their clients goals, whether they be confidence or getting into fighting shape!

Dan led us through a series of self-defense techniques and explained how they would be applicable to real life situations. After an hour of breaking out of choke-holds and ground submissions, we were treated to some intense calorie-burning kickboxing drills, which led to some very sore muscles and smiles the next day.
The seminar was such a blast for all and was a success in garnering over $1000 in sponsor donations for the Lotus House.
A big thank you to our sponsors: LexPrint, Delta Trucking, Inc., Latin Café 2000, and Lien Searches Plus! Thank you to Evolution MMA for leading such a fun event! Feel free to Reach Dan Moneteleone at (305) 384-8779.
Thank you to the FL Bar YLD and FAWL Young Lawyers Committee for the grants used to organize this beneficial event!

Spotlight on Our Members*
News and Accomplishments of the People Who Make MDFAWL 

DBR Names MDFAWL Members Top Women in Law
Deborah Baker-Egozi
Hon. Carroll Kelly 
Michelle Suskauer
The Daily Business Review has recognized 10 Florida attorneys as Top Women in Law. Among this esteemed and accomplished roster of women are three MDFAWL members. MDFAWL sends its heartfelt congratulations to: Deborah Baker-Egozi, shareholder at Greenspoon Marder and member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors; the Honorable Carroll Kelly of the Miami-Dade Circuit Court; and Michelle Suskauer, shareholder at Suskauer | Feuer and President-elect of The Florida Bar.

Read more about the DBR's 2017 Top Women in Law here.
Rebecca Ocariz Named 2017 Power Leader in Law

Rebecca Ocariz

MDFAWL Immediate Past President Rebecca Ocariz has been named a 2017 Power Leader in Law by the South Florida Business Journal. Ocariz is a partner at Akerman LLP, where she focuses her practice on products liability and mass tort litigation on behalf of pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, as well as other life science, retail, and technology companies.

MDFAWL congratulates Rebecca Ocariz on this achievement and thanks her for her monumental contributions to the organization!

ABA Names MDFAWL Members Top Lawyers Under 40
The American Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division has recognized MDFAWL members Elisa D'Amico and Lacey Hofmeyer among its Annual On the Rise - Top 40 Young Lawyers list for 2017. According to the YLD, these young lawyer members "exemplify a broad range of achievement, innovation, vision, leadership, and legal and community service."

Elisa D'Amico
Lacey Hofmeyer

Elisa D'Amico, Secretary of MDFAWL, is a shareholder at K&L Gates in Miami, focusing her practice on helping business and individuals fight invasion of privacy, defamation, internet-based abuse, and other First Amendment violations. D'Amico is the co-founder of the global pro bono Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project, which aims to represent victims whose sexually explicit images are distributed and displayed online without consent.

Lacey Hofmeyer, member of MDFAWL, is a shareholder in the Miami office of Greenberg Traurig, focusing her practice on litigation with an emphasis on financial services, real estate, property insurance, and products liability litigation. Hofmeyer is active in community and pro bono activities in Miami-Dade County and before The Florida Bar.

Congratulations to both on this well-deserved honor!
MDFAWL Members Are Legal Luminaries
Congratulations to all MDFAWL members who were recognized by the Dade County Bar Association (DCBA) as Legal Luminaries! The awards presentation took place at the DCBA's gala on July 26, 2017. Legal Luminaries are selected by their peers who are members in good standing of The Florida Bar.

Deborah Baker-Egozi
Latoya Brown
Under the Age of 40
Melanie Damian
Dori Foster-Morales
Matrimonial & Family
Sabrina R. Gallo Health Care
John H. (Jack) Hickey Admiralty
Leslie J. Lott Intellectual Property
Patrick Montoya Products Liability
Gina Polo
Abigail Price-Williams
Miranda Lundeen Soto
Professional Malpractice
M. Therese Vento

Judge Carroll Kelly Recipient of Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence and Inaugural Amy Karan Award
Judge Kelly Receives Prestigious Awards at the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida  

Miami-Dade County Court Judge Carroll J. Kelly, Administrative Judge of the Domestic Violence Division, recently received two prestigious awards at the annual Conference of County Court Judges of Florida, held in Orlando in June 2017.

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Labarga presented Judge Kelly with the Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence, citing her strong leadership in judicial education on domestic violence issues.

Judge Kelly also received the inaugural Amy Karan Award in honor of the late Judge Amy Karan, who served as Administrative Judge in the Domestic Violence Division. Judge Kelly was recognized for exemplifying the values that Judge Karan stood for during her tenure. Judge Karan's daughter, Amber Kornreich, delivered a heartfelt tribute to her mother's memory, and Judge Beth Bloom presented the award to Judge Kelly with a moving speech. 
(L-R) Amber Kornreich, Hon. Carroll Kelly, Hon. Beth Bloom at the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida.  
Benson-Villegas Reappointed Associate Editor of
ABA Publication

Ingrid Benson-Villegas, who is on the Board of Directors and is Chair of the Website Committee, was recently reappointed to serve as Associate Editor of the American Bar Association's publication, The Young Lawyer.  Ingrid focuses her practice on providing full real estate services, as well as civil litigation and labor law.
Ingrid Benson-Villegas
*Have something to shout about or know someone who does? Email us at We want to put you in the spotlight!
37th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner
June 8, 2017 | JW Marriott Marquis Miami








New Judges Reception
May 11, 2017 | Pawn Broker Rooftop and Lounge  

Women Making History
March 22, 2017 | HistoryMiami

FAWL Applauds Florida Bar's Efforts to Address and Eradicate Gender Bias
A recent press release from FAWL acknowledges and highlights The Florida Bar's efforts to eradicate gender bias.
Florida Bar Increases Number of Women Appointed to Committees
Florida Bar President and MDFAWL member Michael Higer has appointed a record number of women to Florida Bar committees and in leadership positions for the 2017-2018 year. A vast number of appointees (women and men) are MDFAWL members. MDFAWL congratulates all its members who have received appointments and applauds Michael Higer on his affirmative steps to eradicate gender bias in the legal profession!
Women Speaking in Court
Findings in Report of New York State Bar Association

The New York State Bar Association recently published a report touted as the first of its kind based on an observational study of women speaking in the courtroom. The overall percentage of women speaking in the courtroom was a mere 25 percent. Retired Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, a member of the task force in charge of preparing the report, submitted an op-ed in the New York Times in the wake of publication of the report. The report demonstrates we still have a long way to go!

MDFAWL Welcomes Substantive Content for Newsletter

The Advisor brings news from MDFAWL and its members to you on a quarterly basis. In addition to highlighting our programming and members, we welcome submissions regarding substantive areas of law or related to issues of interest to MDFAWL members. If you are interested in submitting content to feature in The Advisor, contact us at for more information.
Our Leadership

Katie S. Phang

Lara Bueso Bach

Elisa D'Amico

Ardith Bronson

Newsletter Editor
Kristin Drecktrah Paz
Ingrid Benson-Villegas 
Lauren Brunswick 
Stephanie Casey 
Allison Jade Leonard 
Freddi Mack 
Diana C. Mendez 
Stephanie Moot 
Kelly Peña 
Julissa Rodriguez 
Jennifer Ruiz 
Jody Shulman

Immediate Past President  
Rebecca Ocariz
Committee Chairs
Giovanna Abreu
Claire Armagnac
Angela Benjamin
Tammi Calarco
Gabriela Castillo
Diana Castiov
Dana Chaaban
Madelin D'Arce
Liana De La Noval
Tiffany Disney
Amanda Fernandez  
Maite Garcia
Keri Joseph
Olivia Kelman
Amber Kornreich

Christine Louissaint 
Vannessa Mari-Milhem 
Liana Matthews
Sheila Oretsky
Cristina Pérez Soto
Carolina Piñero
Deborah Ross-Ocariz
Schuyler Smith
Marycarmen Soto
Alice Sum
Sylmarie Trujillo
Courtney Walter
Alicia Welch
Trisha Widowfield

MDFAWL is a voluntary bar association dedicated to actively promoting the advancement of women in the legal profession, expanding the leadership role of its members in the community at large, and promoting women's rights.

Kristin Drecktrah Paz, Newsletter Editor | MDFAWL |