Summer Edition 2018, Vol. 37, Issue 4    
Dear Members and Friends of MDFAWL,

This has been another incredible year for MDFAWL. The photos and articles in this issue show how MDFAWL has been working hard to deliver meaningful programming to support and uplift its members and promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and the community at large.

Thanks to those of you who joined MDFAWL at its 38th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner on June 7, 2018 at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami. Congratulations to all the officers, directors, and committee chairs on their appointments, especially to our President Lara Bueso Bach! More information about this event will follow in the next issue of The Advisor.

This marks the last newsletter for me. Thank you for your readership! The incoming Newsletter Editor is friend and colleague Kelly Peña, who has served as a Director of MDFAWL for several years as well as Co-chair of the Public Relations Committee.

And, because it just couldn't wait until later, take a look at some photos from the RBG Movie Night and Dissent Collar Costume Contest held at the Tower Theater Miami on May 24, 2018, hosted by MDFAWL and GSCBWLA. Many thanks to President Elect Elisa D'Amico for conceiving and executing such an empowering and outright fun event! From the collars to the gloves to the crowns, MDFAWL and GSCBWLA members showed their respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 107th Justice (and second woman Justice) of the United States Supreme Court, pioneer for women's rights for decades, super diva, and certified icon.
Kristin Drecktrah Paz, Newsletter Editor 2017-2018
MDFAWL President Lara Bach and  
President Elect Elisa D'Amico 
Alice Sum and Stephanie Chaissan show off  their custom-made costumes 
Elisa D'Amico crowns the winner of the RBG Dissent Collar Contest, Victoria,  future MDFAWL member and daughter of Director Cristina Pérez Soto 
 Gia Abreu,  
Elisa D'Amico, and Amber Kornreich 
Dissent Collar Costume Contest participants 
Julie Rodriguez and Nikki Lewis-Simon 
Claire Armagnac and Renu Mody  
Kristin Drecktrah Paz, Martha Ferral, Marcela Lozano, and Christine Bandin 
Women Making History Award and Scholarship Presentation
March 28, 2018 | The Collection 
Judge Lisa Walsh, Melanie Damian, and
2017-2018 MDFAWL President Katie Phang  
By Stephanie Moot

In honor of Women's History Month, MDFAWL hosted its signature Women Making History event on March 28, 2018, at The Collection in Coral Gables. At this annual event, MDFAWL honors a member who exemplifies the ideals of professional achievement, perseverance and dedication to women's issues. MDFAWL also presents scholarships to law students who have made, or seek to make, contributions to the community in the areas of health, safety, human rights or human welfare.
This year's Women Making History award was given to Melanie E. Damian. Her character, longstanding commitment to improving our community, and professional accomplishments are an inspiration to all.  Ms. Damian, a senior partner at Damian & Valori LLP, represents public and private companies and individuals in a variety of complex business and securities litigation. She regularly serves as court-appointed Federal Equity Receiver, Special Monitor, and Distribution Agent, and also serves as Receiver and Monitor in state court matters. She is currently serving as Chair of the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar, as Chair-Elect of the International Women's Forum (IWF) Florida Chapter, and as Co-Chair of the IWF 2018 World Leadership Conference. She also is active in child advocacy and is a founder of the non-profit Educate Tomorrow. 
Additionally, the following law students were presented with scholarships based on their commitment to bettering our community:
  • Tremaine Hemans - Lara Bueso Bach Scholarship
  • Kathleen Leon - Jean Perwin Memorial Fund Scholarship
  • Natasha Muthurin - Shelley Kravitz Scholarship
  • Allison Gordon - Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton Scholarship
  • Ana Rocio Velasquez - Alexandra Bach Lagos Scholarship
  • Loune-Djenia Askew - Scholarship Honoring Lody Jean
  • Na'imah Lafferty - Friends of Linda Dakis & Pemberton Scholarship
  • Andrea Valencia - Sonia "Sunny" Yahr Memorial Scholarship
 Notably, the above-named sponsors have donated to the scholarship fund year after year.
The Collection provided a lovely venue for the event. There was no shortage of food, drinks or merriment.  Guests were even invited to test-drive cars - and many marked their future holiday present.
MDFAWL appreciates the generosity of the sponsors for the event. The Collection graciously provided the venue, food, beverages, complimentary valet parking and audio visual equipment for the event.  Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP designed and provided the event program. This was also one of many MDFAWL events sponsored by Greenberg Traurig. 
MDFAWL also thanks the Women Making History Committee for its efforts to organize and promote this worthy community event: Carmen Contreras-Martinez, Keri Joseph de Freitas, Allison Jade Leonard, Tom Lohman, Diana Mendez, Stephanie Moot, Julie Rodriguez, Tiya Rolle, Debbie Ross Ocariz, Jessica Saiontz, Schuyler Smith and Sylmarie Trujillo.     
MDFAWL Hosts Fifth Annual Leadership Summit
May 10, 2018 | Akerman LLP 
Laurie S. Silvers, keynote speaker
and co-founder of the SyFy Channel 
By Melissa Madsen

  MDFAWL hosted its Fifth Annual Leadership Summit at Akerman LLP on May 10, 2018. Organized by the MDFAWL Leadership Committee, this year's program focused on women who have blazed pathways to leadership in media and business, on boards, and at law firms.  
More than sixty attendees heard from three panels of women lawyers who have become leaders in their respective fields. The first panel was comprised of three attorneys who founded and lead women-only law firms in Miami: Susan Bozorgi, Marrero Bozorgi; Dori Foster-Morales, Foster-Morales Sockel-Stone; and Laura Reich, Reich Rodriguez.  These attorneys, who focus on white collar criminal defense, family law, and commercial and international law respectively, discussed the freedoms and responsibilities of leading their own firms.  One piece of advice they gave was to "ask for the business that you want." The panel was moderated by the Honorable Sarah Zabel.
The morning continued with a panel of women lawyers in business who had successfully transferred the skills they learned in traditional law practice to the businesses they now serve and lead. This panel, moderated by Cristina Pérez Soto, included Lea Souza-Rasile, Managing Director, Underwriting, Brickell Key Asset Management; Carrie Levine Schwartz, Assistant Vice President and Assistant Treasurer, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.; and Barbara Alonso, General Counsel, CA Indosuez Wealth (Miami).
The third and final panel was comprised of women lawyers on boards.  When asked by moderator Veronica Meza how to acquire a position on a board, the resounding answer was to simply "ask" and not to wait for an invitation. The attorneys on this panel were Christia Alou, a government affairs attorney and consultant and Board Member for the Adrienne Arsht Center; Lyan Fernandez, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of TotalBank, Champion Director on the CREW Network Foundation Board, and Board Member for the Coral Gables Museum; Marlene Quintana, Shareholder at GrayRobinson, and President of Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services; and Aileen Ugalde, Vice President and General Counsel to the University of Miami and Board Member for the Adrienne Arsht Center. 
The Leadership Summit culminated with inspiring words from keynote speaker Laurie S. Silvers, co-founder of the SyFy Channel, after an introduction from Linda Leali, longtime MDFAWL member and leader. A passionate entrepreneur, Ms. Silvers discussed how she transitioned from a career in law to media, telecommunications, and broadcasting.  She recalled instances in which she was the only female in the room, but her role as an attorney gave her the credibility and credentials to grow within the field.   
Miami-Dade FAWL thanks Ms. Silvers and the panelists, moderators, and sponsors for an inspiring Leadership Summit.  

Jones Day Partner Kerri Ruttenberg Presents Images with Impact 
April 11, 2018 | Hyatt Regency Miami

By Freddi Mack and Cristina Pérez Soto

Judge Paul Huck, Kerri Ruttenberg,
and Judge Patricia Seitz
Fun fact: jurors immediately forget as much as two-thirds of the facts lawyers present to them. See, e.g., Jeffrey R. Boyll, Enhancing Juror Comprehension and Memory Retention, 12 Trial Diplomacy J. 194-99 (1989).
OK, for litigators, perhaps "fun" isn't the right adjective. More like "frightening." But there is hope for effective trial presentation: visual aids.
For instance, Kerri Ruttenberg, a partner in Jones Day's litigation practice, explains, people retain only 14-33% of information presented through purely auditory means, but that number jumps to 85% when the information is also presented visually. And when three days have passed, people remember only 10% of information presented verbally, but retain 65% of information presented both verbally and visually. So litigators-whose jobs depend on effective storytelling to persuade the factfinder-would be well-advised to develop and use impactful visual aids.
On April 11, 2018, Ruttenberg presented Images with Impact: Design and Use of Winning Trial Visuals, a CLE luncheon co-sponsored by MDFAWL and the Federal Bar Association - South Florida Chapter at the Hyatt Regency. Ruttenberg is a nationally recognized author on trial presentation and visuals. Her presentation included not only statistics about why and how visual aids are a useful tool for litigators (and any presenter), but also tips and tricks on how best to design and employ trial visuals. This article summarizes some of the key takeaways from Ruttenberg's presentation.
A strong trial visual should be clear, concise, and clean. Text should be used sparingly. Feature only one concept per slide, eliminate extraneous text, and make sure the font is legible. Build your theme over multiple slides, rather than bombarding the jury with one slide that's overflowing with information. Consider whether symbols can be used in place of text to create a stronger visual memory for jurors.
Ruttenberg presented a primer on how best to use visual depictions of data such as charts, graphs, maps, and timelines. Again, the theme was "less is more." Eliminate extraneous elements and data, use color and labelling strategically, and minimize text and ornamentation. Easily recognizable symbols (like brand logos or phone and email icons) can add visual interest and help jurors understand familiar concepts. Importantly, it is crucial to be accurate in your depictions of data-size or perspective can be used to distort data, and misleading visuals may be excluded or even prompt a mistrial.
In presenting your trial visuals, don't compete with your slide. If jurors are reading too much text on a slide, they are not focusing on your verbal narrative. Similarly, if you intend to use video or animation in a presentation, do not talk while the movement is going on. But "high tech" visuals, such as PowerPoint slideshows, aren't always necessary. Effective trial visuals can take the form of hand drawings on a white board or a blank piece of paper on a document camera (ELMOs). Most importantly, be sure to adhere to the rules of evidence in your jurisdiction.
For more information on the points above (and much more), be sure to purchase Ruttenberg's book titled Images with Impact: Design and Use of Winning Trial Visuals, available online through the American Bar Association.
MDFAWL thanks Kerri Ruttenberg for her time and informative presentation. MDFAWL also thanks the Federal Bar Association - South Florida Chapter, particularly Russell Koonin and Tal Lifshitz, for their co-sponsorship. 

Cannabis and Artificial Intelligence and Ethics . . . Oh My! 
April 16, 2018 | K&L Gates LLP

By Elisa D'Amico

On April 16, 2018 MDFAWL hosted its annual ethics seminar in connection with the University of Miami's Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program (PREP). The session was moderated by Program Director, ethics guru, and Professor Jan Jacobowitz and conducted by 3 PREP interns: Sarah Cohen, Madeline Kleinberg, and Lina Mesa.
This year's interactive program focused on cannabis and artificial intelligence. Using hypothetical examples, the interactive program examined the state of federal and state law concerning marijuana usage, as well as ethics rules implicated when marijuana is at issue. In discussing artificial intelligence, the program focused on the benefits of lawyers using artificial intelligence, as well as the ethical implications. The students presented attendees with best practices and provided useful citations to ethics rules and advisory opinions.
MDFAWL thanks Professor Jacobowitz and the PREP interns for putting together a wonderful program, and each of the attendees for making it an insightful and collaborative CLE program. Thanks also to K&L Gates for hosting the event for another year.
For more info on PREP visit this site
Crash Course in Representing Victims of Domestic Violence
April 24, 2018 | Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse

By Julie Rodriguez
On April 24, 2018, MDFAWL joined the Florida Muslim Bar Association to present a Crash Course in Representing Victims of Domestic Violence: A How-To Seminar on Domestic Violence Law. We had an outstanding panel: Judge Tanya Brinkley, the Associate Administrative Judge assigned to Miami Dade County Court's Domestic Violence Division, where she presides over criminal and civil domestic violence matters; Judge William Altfield, who serves on the Miami Dade County Court's Domestic Violence Division, where he presides over criminal domestic violence prosecutions and civil permanent injunction hearings; Brandi Hawkins, the supervising attorney at the Lodge domestic violence shelter where she manages a team of attorneys and a social worker under a grant representing victims of domestic violence; Steven Paulson, a supervisor of Dade Legal Aid's domestic violence unit and its Director of Litigation; and Taghrid Hassan, the principal attorney of Hassan Law P.A., who focuses on family and immigration law and is the co-founder and past president of the Florida Muslim Bar Association.
In two hours, the panel provided us with a thorough primer on domestic violence law, with supporting written materials. For those of us learning this area for the first time, it was an especially excellent resource - with the benefit of practice tips from the judges and experienced practitioners. Our heartfelt thanks to the panel for their terrific presentation, time and dedication.
Miami-Dade FAWL Co-hosts CLE Regarding High Stakes and Politically Charged Jury Selection 
April 27, 2018 | Hyatt Regency Miami

By Lara Bach

In collaboration with the Dade County Bar Association, MDFAWL hosted a CLE panel on The Politics of Today's Jury Trial.  Recognizing that the news media is saturated with politically-charged headings, this panel discussed how such information impacts jury selection and jury service, and the types of voir dire questioning that lawyers must incorporate.  The panel included Third DCA Judge Norma Lindsey, Southern District of Florida Judge Paul Huck, Amie Riggle Berlin (SEC trial counsel), Curtis Miner (Colson, Hicks Eidson), Christopher Drury (Dimond, Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A.), Richard Jolly (NYU Civil Jury Project), Geri Satin (Focus Litigation Consulting), and Catherine Wilson (DBR Managing Editor), and was moderated by Lara Bueso Bach (Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP).      
Attended by close to 100 practitioners, researcher Richard Jolly first discussed the declining number of jury trials and the factors contributing to the decline nationwide. Judges Lindsey and Huck provided insight on the distinction between the state and federal voir dire process and provided suggestions as to handling voir dire. Dr. Satin discussed juror biases and trends in today's socio-political climate and how hot button issues influence jurors in terms of their perception of the case and decision-making.  Practitioners Amie Berlin, Curtis Miner, and Christopher Drury explained how jury selection operated in several high stakes cases they litigated and recent case law on jury selection.  Catherine Wilson closed the panel with commentary on the media's coverage of jury trials and how social media usage has impacted jury trials.  As the panel explained, practitioners should be aware that recent jury research has shown that party affiliation is not necessarily predictive of the damage award. More helpful are nuanced questions that expose jurors' personal viewpoints on issues.  
Hero. Icon. Dissenter. MDFAWL and GSCBWLA Host an RBG Movie Night and Costume Contest!
May 24, 2018 | Tower Theater Miami

By Elisa D'Amico 

No caption necessary!
On May 24, 2018, MDFAWL and GSCBWLA hosted a private screening of RBG, a film by Betsy West and Julie Cohen. The film celebrates United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneer of gender equality and trailblazing warrior.
As expected, the event sold out and wasa huge success. Attendees donned their finest RBG garb and made their way to the Tower Theater Miami, one of Miami's oldest cultural landmarks, which first opened its doors in 1926. Before the film started, all costumed attendees made their way to the front of the theater for the costume contest. Some chose a dissent collar, some chose a beaded collar, and some had handmade RBG costumes. But the sparkly, notoriously RBG-esque crown went to Vic toria, the daughter of MDFAWL Director Cristi Pérez Soto! She was so excited about her win that she even brought her crown to school the next day to show all of her friends.
The film lived up to the hype and was even more amazing than expected given the amazing trailer.
MDFAWL was proud to host an event honoring a such a truly remarkable woman lawyer. The film captured her extraordinary intellect and unmatched work ethic, and it portrayed her lifelong journey fighting gender discrimination and paving the way for women lawyers and for all lawyers.
"People ask me sometimes ... 'When will there be enough women on the court?' And my answer is: 'When there are nine.'" - Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Want to win one of our RBG Movie Night tote bags? Add us on social media and use the hashtag #MDFAWL to post your favorite RBG quote. We will randomly pick a winner on June 22, 2018!

May 19, 2018 | The Standard Spa

By Carolina S. Piñero

MDFAWL members slaying their workout at The Standard
On May 19, 2018, MDFAWL members enjoyed a yoga and meditation class and access to the spa at The Standard on Miami Beach. The event was sponsored by the Florida Bar's Young Lawyer's Division, as part of its fourth annual Health & Wellness Month, an initiative designed to bring awareness to and address health and wellness issues that affect the quality of life of lawyers in Florida. Relatedly, The Florida Bar provides a host of health and wellness online .
The event was also sponsored by Slay, a new Miami-based, attorney-founded startup. With a flexible monthly subscription, Slay connects subscribers with salons that are majority-minority and female owned, and gives them access to a host of salon services at affordable rates. MDFAWL members can receive $15 off their first month's subscription with the following code: FAWL4SLAY.
Learn more about Slay at!  
Spotlight on Our Members*
News and Accomplishments of the People Who Make MDFAWL 

MDFAWL Congratulates Judges Elevated to Circuit Court
Dawn Denaro 
Renatha Francis 
Andrea Wolfson
MDFAWL sends heartfelt and elated congratulations to its members and outstanding members of the judiciary, Judges Dawn Denaro, Renatha Francis, and Andrea Wolfson for the recent announcement of their elevation to the Miami-Dade Circuit Court! Governor Scott's office announced these three appointments on June 4, 2018. Judges Denaro, Francis, and Wolfson currently serve on the Miami-Dade County Court bench. Congratulations to Judges Denaro, Francis, and Wolfson, and we look forward to your investiture!
MDFAWL Members Selected as DBR Professional Excellence Honorees
  Lara Bueso Bach  

Cristina Pérez Soto 

Karen Poy 

Erica Rutner 
MDFAWL congratulates Lara Bach, Cristina Pérez Soto, Karen Poy, and Erica Rutner for their selection as honorees by the Daily Business Review for its 2018 Professional Excellence Awards! The awards recognize exemplary work by attorneys in the legal profession and the community in the categories of Distinguished Leaders and On the Rise.
Lara Bueso Bach is the President of MDFAWL and an "On the Rise" honoree. Lara is a senior associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP in its Complex Commercial Litigation practice, where she has substantial experience in multidistrict litigations, consumer fraud and product liability class actions, alter ego and fraudulent conveyance litigation, and disputes arising out of restructurings and bankruptcy proceedings. Lara has been an active contributor to the community, representing children and victims of human trafficking, mentoring female law students, and participating in various philanthropic activities. 
 Cristina Perez-Soto, MDFAWL Director and a "Distinguished Leader" honoree, practices in the areas of investigations and white collar defense; global disputes; foreign corrupt practices act counseling and defense; and internal investigations at the Miami office of Jones Day. Her experience includes representing companies and individuals in U.S. government investigations, and representing clients in the United States and abroad with respect to international litigation and arbitration. Prior to her law firm practice, Cristina served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, and she also served as a law clerk to Judge Juan R. Torruela before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and United States District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.
Karen Poy, an "On the Rise" honoree, is a partner at K&L Gates LLP. Karen practices in the area of complex commercial litigation and possesses extensive litigation and arbitration experience, representing and advising individuals and corporations in a wide variety of industries. Prior to joining K&L Gates, Karen was a judicial intern for the Honorable Ursula M. Ungaro, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.  
Erica Rutner, an "On the Rise" honoree, is a partner at Lash & Goldberg LLP. Erica represents clients in a variety of high-stakes commercial litigation matters.  She has handled litigations involving complex financial instruments and deal structures, business torts, products liability, health care and bankruptcy.  Erica also has significant experience in the defense of class actions and multidistrict litigations, and she has successfully litigated several high-stakes putative class actions brought under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).  In conjunction with her class action and multidistrict litigation practice, Erica works closely with companies to develop short term and long term strategies for minimizing class action exposure.
Article by Rebecca Ocariz Featured in The Florida Bar Journal 

MDFAWL Past President Rebecca Ocariz authored an article featured in the June issue of The Florida Bar Journal entitled "The Great Oz: What Really Happens Behind the Curtain of JNC Deliberations." As a member of the Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee of The Florida Bar, Rebecca provides insight into the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) process, in particular the procedures involved and factors a JNC takes into consideration in the nomination process.

Rebecca is a partner at Akerman LLP, where she focuses her practice on product liability and mass tort disputes, representing pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, and other life science, retail, and technology companies.
Rebecca Ocariz

*Have something to shout about or know someone who does? Email us at We want to put you in the spotlight!
Women Making History Award and Scholarship Presentation
March 28, 2018 | The Collection  
Images with Impact: Design and Use of Winning Trial Visuals
April 11, 2018 | Hyatt Regency Miami   
MDFAWL Leadership Summit
May 11, 2018 | Akerman LLP





Our Leadership (2017-2018)




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
Geri Satin 
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 |