CBA Officers & Board of Managers 2020-2021
President Maryam Ahmad
Maryam Ahmad is the Chief of the Juvenile Justice Bureau for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and a former Cook County Circuit Court Judge, Cook County Assistant Public Defender, and senior academic administrator for several universities. Ms. Ahmad began her professional career in higher education, serving as Assistant Director of Admissions at Bucknell University; Director of Minority Recruitment at Yale University; Assistant Dean of Multicultural Affairs and Affirmative Action at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Special Assistant to the President on Diversity at DePaul University.
She began her legal career as an associate attorney specializing in corporate, civil, Title VII, and intellectual property litigation. She transitioned to criminal law, representing Cook County’s indigent residents facing misdemeanor and felony charges as a public defender and then becoming an Assistant State’s Attorney representing victims of crime in both juvenile and adult court.
In 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Ms. Ahmad Circuit Court Judge. She served on the bench until December 2016, hearing civil and criminal cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County. In February 2017, Ms. Ahmad was appointed to lead the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Juvenile Justice Bureau where she oversees child protection services and juvenile delinquency operations.
Ms. Ahmad was elected to a two-year term on the Chicago Bar Association’s Board of Managers in 2011 and served as a member of the CBA’s Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC) from 2005 to 2014 and 2016 to 2018. She has held several leadership positions on the CBA’s JEC including General Chair (2017 to 2018).
Ms. Ahmad received her bachelor’s degree from Chatham College, her master’s degree from Bucknell University, and her J.D. from DePaul University.
First Vice President E. Lynn Grayson
Recognized as one of the nation’s leading environmental lawyers, E. Lynn Grayson is a partner in the women-owned boutique environmental law firm of Nijman Franzetti LLP. She serves as lead environmental counsel in U.S. and international transactions and counsels corporate leadership on the management of material environmental risks, liabilities and compliance matters. Ms. Grayson also advises clients on critical EHS enforcement, regulatory and litigation cases, conducts environmental internal investigations and defends clients in whistleblower and qui tam actions. She has significant experience defending against natural resource damage claims and performing due diligence including water scarcity concerns. Ms. Grayson has been recognized by Chambers & Partners
(Band1), Best Lawyers, Who’s Who, Super Lawyers
and Leading Lawyers
and has been named by Best Lawyers as Chicago
’s Environmental Lawyer of the Year.
She was a partner at Jenner & Block LLP for 24 years and the Chair of its Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety law practice. Prior to entering private practice, Ms. Grayson was the Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Emergency Services and Disaster Agency and the State Emergency Response Commission. She has also prosecuted federal and state environmental cases as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois.
Ms. Grayson has made significant contributions to promote diversity in the legal profession, including the advancement of women. She is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law Firms and a past chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law, as well as the CBA’s Alliance for Women. She has received numerous awards and honors including being the first recipient of the CBA’s Alta May Hulett Award, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois’ Women with Vision Award, the ISBA’s Diversity Leadership Award and the 2017 Best Lawyers’ Women of Influence Award.
She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law and Innovation. Ms. Grayson also is on the Boards of the Geneva Lake Association (Vice-President) and the Geneva Lake Museum (Secretary) and is a member of the Board of Trustees for Franklin College.
Ms. Grayson earned her bachelor’s degree from Franklin College and her J.D. from Indiana University’s School of Law.
Second Vice President Timothy S. Tomasik
Timothy Tomasik is a founding member of Tomasik Kotin Kasserman LLC where he has distinguished himself as one of Chicago’s elite trial attorneys. Prior to joining the firm, Tim practiced for 15 years at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago and also served as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney in the Bureau of Special Prosecutions.
Mr. Tomasik has tried over 100 jury and bench trials to verdict and has handled and successfully resolved hundreds of millions of dollars in claims in a variety of practice areas, including complex premises liability, aviation litigation, medical negligence, medical liability, hospital liability, and mass disasters.
As a trial attorney, Mr. Tomasik has handled significantly complex and high profile and cases including serving as a lead counsel of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the World Trade Center litigation against the airlines industry for security breaches that led to the tragic 9/11 hijackings and air crashes in which he helped to secure a $1.2 billion settlement.
Mr. Tomasik is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including being inducted by his peers into the International Society of Barristers, an honor society of outstanding trial lawyers. He has also been inducted into the American Board of Trial Advocates and in 2018 became a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, one of the premier legal associations in North America. Mr. Tomasik is a member of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, American Bar Association Torts Committee, and chair of the Sub-Committee on Experts and Evidence. He also served for 15 years on the Chicago Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Committee. He is also a Chair of Lawyers Lend-A-Hand, a foundation that provides grants to Chicago’s underprivileged youth and is a Board Member of the Western Springs Foundation for Educational Excellence.
Mr. Tomasik received his undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and his J.D. from the University of Denver.
Secretary Ray J. Koenig III
Ray J. Koenig III is a member in Clark Hill’s Litigation and Tax & Estate Planning groups. He also serves in leadership roles within the firm, which include serving as the Managing Member of Clark Hill’s Chicago office and on the firm’s Executive Committee.
Mr. Koenig’s areas of experience are vast, including will, probate, trust, fiduciary and guardianship litigation as well as elder law and estate planning. He has represented individuals, families, financial institutions, medical institutions and governmental organizations in all areas of his practice. Mr. Koenig is frequently appointed Guardian Ad Litem and defense counsel by judges in complex guardianship matters and is also appointed Special Administrator by judges in problematic probate matters. He is also retained as an expert witness in guardianship and probate matters.
A frequent author and lecturer, Mr. Koenig is an active member and past member of many legal and social service organizations including serving as a Commissioner on the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Equality Illinois PAC, Chicago House Social Service Agency, the Lambda Legal Education and Defense Fund and the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and a member of the Board of Directors at the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education.
Mr. Koenig received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and his J.D. from the DePaul University College of Law.
Treasurer John C. Sciaccotta
John C. Sciaccotta is a member of Aronberg Goldgehn. He has nearly 35 years of trial and litigation experience advocating for clients in complex civil litigation, arbitration, mediation and business counseling matters with a special emphasis on complex civil trial and appellate cases brought in federal and state courts and tribunals throughout the United States.
Mr. Sciaccotta represents publicly and privately held domestic and foreign business entities, lenders, employers, municipalities, government bodies and individuals in transactional matters and disputes He has substantial experience representing real estate owners/developers, business owners in a wide array of industries, professional service organizations, partnerships, limited liability companies, manufacturing, construction, technology, professional sales
companies, professional sports leagues, professional sports owners, professional athletes, municipalities, hedge funds and broker/dealers, governmental bodies, banks and lending institutions, In addition, Mr. Sciaccotta has been appointed as a Neutral Arbitrator and Mediator for many years to resolve and arbitrate business related disputes. He serves on the Commercial Panel of the American Arbitration Association's National Roster of Arbitrators and Mediators.
Mr. Sciaccotta is an active member of many legal and community organizations in addition to the CBA, including the American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Justinian Society of Lawyers, National Italian American Foundation, The Lawyers Club of Chicago, the City Club of Chicago, and Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. He was co-founder of the CBA Business Divorce and Complex Ownership Committee, had has served as vice chair of the CBA CLE Committee and the CBA Mediation Program Committee.
Mr. Sciaccotta received his undergraduate degree from Creighton University and his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law.
Immediate Past President Jesse H. Ruiz
In January 2019, Governor JB Pritzker appointed Jesse Ruiz Deputy Governor for Education. Jesse oversees the state’s education system from early childhood through higher education, as well as the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Prior to joining the Office of Governor JB Pritzker, Jesse was a partner in the Corporate & Securities Group of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, where for 22 years he focused his law practice on business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity investments, equity and debt offerings, financing and a variety of commercial transactions. Jesse is also the 1st Vice President of the Chicago Bar Association and a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School.
Throughout his law career, Jesse also dedicated time to public service. He served as President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, Commissioner on the Public Building Commission, Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education, Interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, Commissioner on the U.S. Department of Education Equity and Excellence Commission, Commissioner on the Illinois Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee, and Commissioner on the Chicago Public Schools Desegregation Monitoring Commission. In 2018, Jesse was also a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Illinois Attorney General.
Jesse received his J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School, where he served as an editor of the University of Chicago Law School Roundtable, and studied under then-professors Barack Obama and Elena Kagan. He received his Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The proud son of Mexican immigrants, Jesse is a life-long Chicagoan and is married to fellow attorney Michele Ruiz. They have two sons, Jonathan and Benjamin.
Board of Managers:
Jonathan Amarilio is a partner at Taft, Stettinius & Hollister where he practices appellate law representing individuals, businesses and state and local governments in the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He also serves as a Special Assistant Corporate Counsel for the City of Chicago and has served as a Special Assistant Attorney General.
Mr. Amarilio regularly works on high-profile appellate cases for both sides of the bar. His work on these cases has set precedents and driven change in a wide range of areas including administrative and antitrust law, complex asbestos and insurance liability, constitutional law, construction law, contract disputes, defamation claims, election law, energy market regulation, gaming law, governmental immunity, investment and tax shelter litigation, medical malpractice and hospital liability, multi-district class action employment claims, personal injury and railroad liability.
A former Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, Mr. Amarilio also serves as Treasurer of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association and sits on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association, the Chicago Bar Foundation, and the Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth foundation. He is also the host of the CBA’s podcast “@theBar,” a contributor to the Illinois Appellate Lawyer Association’s blog “The Brief,” and regularly publishes on appellate topics.
A graduate of American University, he received his J.D. from the University of Iowa College Of Law.
Hon. Charles S. Beach II
Charles Beach is a Cook County Associate Judge elected in the summer of 2018 and currently assigned to the Pre Trial Division. Judge Beach is a graduate of DePaul College of Law and began his career in 1996 with the Cook County Public Defender's Office.
In 1998, Judge Beach entered into a clerkship with Justice Judith Koehler of the 3rd Appellate District where he remained until entering private practice. Judge Beach has lectured about DUI and criminal law to a broad array of groups including The Illinois
Appellate Prosecutor's Office, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Cook County Public Defender's Office, the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Judge Beach has been chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Traffic Law Committee six times and is Past President of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers along with authoring a chapter on Traffic Court practice and procedure for IICLE. Judge Beach has also held Board positions with Lathrop Community Partners and was President of Hamlin Park Neighbors, NFP.
Alexis Crawford Douglas
Alexis Crawford Douglas is a partner at the global law firm of K&L Gates LLP. She concentrates her practice in the area of intellectual property law, and handles a range of transactional and litigation matters related to trademarks, domain names, social media and copyrights.
Ms. Douglas provides strategic management of global trademark portfolios for clients ranging from multi-national to start-up companies in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical devices, consumer products, marketing and advertising, food and beverage, financial and technology. Ms. Douglas assists clients with clearance, prosecution, protection and enforcement of trademarks.
Ms. Douglas has served a variety of roles in the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, from co-chair of the Creative Arts and LEAD committees to Director, Secretary/Treasurer and Member Services Manager. In 2018, Ms. Douglas was awarded the Impact Award for a YLS Leader with Substantial Impact on the Section.
Ms. Douglas also helped found and organize the Chicago Bar Association’s Working Women’s Legal Summits, and has made contributions to promote diversity and the advancement of women in the legal profession. Ms. Douglas is also a member of the Richard Linn American Inn of Court and the International Trademark Association.
Ms. Douglas earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a double major in political science, and received her J.D. cum laude from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Charles P. Golbert
Charles P. Golbert is the Cook County Public Guardian whose office represents approximately 6,000 children in abuse and neglect cases in Juvenile Court as well as hundreds of children in contested divorce and parentage disputes in Domestic Relations Court. The Public Guardian also serves as guardian for approximately 700 mostly elderly individuals with disabilities, and manages $100 million of estate assets.
A 28-year veteran of the office, Mr. Golbert has worked in nearly every area including as a trial attorney in the Juvenile Division, a supervising attorney in the Special Litigation Division, the head of the Appeals Division, and as the Deputy Public Guardian and director of the Adult Guardianship Division. He has represented thousands of children and individuals with disabilities in state, federal and appellate courts in a variety of matters including Juvenile Court abuse and neglect proceedings, Probate and Domestic Relations proceedings, federal civil rights actions, money damages lawsuits on behalf of children harmed in foster care, and complex financial exploitation recovery litigation.
Mr. Golbert has authored numerous law journal articles, essays and book reviews and has served as Articles Editor, Executive Editor, and Editor in Chief of the Journal of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA Journal). He is the primary author of a state law that provides protections to people with disabilities from abuse and financial exploitation. He is also a longtime faculty member of the ChildLaw intensive trial advocacy course at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Mr. Golbert received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Northwestern University and his J.D. from the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
Kathryn C. Liss
Kathryn Liss is the Director of the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center and a law student advisor at DePaul University College of Law. Prior to working at DePaul, Ms. Liss practiced solely in the area of family law for over ten years handling cases involving divorce, paternity matters, adoptions and orders of protection. She also served as a court appointed child representative and Guardian ad Litem in Cook County.
Ms. Liss has completed mediation training at Northwestern University as well as the Houston Family Law Trial Institute program. While in law school, she attended a comparative family law course in Granada, Spain, was a dean's scholar, worked in the International Human Rights Law Institute, and authored a published Law Review article.
Ms. Liss is actively involved in the Chicago Bar Association and previously served as chair of the Young Lawyers Section. She founded and currently serves as chair of the CBA’s Human Trafficking Committee. Ms. Liss also serves on the Chicago Bar Foundation's Board of Directors and previously served as a past member of the Chicago Bar Foundation's Young Professional Board and the Center for Conflict Resolution's Board of Directors. She also teaches adoption law as an adjunct professor at DePaul University College of Law.
Ms. Liss received her bachelor’s degree in in psychology from Miami University (Ohio) and her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law.
Michael R. Lufrano
Michael R. Lufrano is Executive Vice President of Community Affairs and Chief Legal Officer for the Chicago Cubs, responsible for community affairs, government relations, communications, neighborhood relations and charitable activities. He also serves as Chief Legal Counsel.
Since joining the Cubs organization in 2004, Mr. Lufrano has led efforts to develop and maintain positive relations with the community around Wrigley Field, including businesses, residents and elected officials.
Prior to joining the Cubs organization, Mr. Lufrano worked as an attorney in the Chicago office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal where his practice focused on intellectual property, media and First Amendment law, internet law and commercial litigation. He has also worked in the office of the Corporation Counsel for the city of Atlanta.
From 1993 to 1995, Mr. Lufrano served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Advance. He helped coordinate and implement daily and long-term schedules for the President and the First Lady and helped produce and design White House trips and events, including the President’s trip to Normandy in 1994 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
Mr. Lufrano received his undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Illinois and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Hon. Clare Elizabeth McWilliams
Judge Clare E. McWilliams was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County in November of 2004, and has since presided over a variety of different divisions and matters throughout Cook County, including both civil and criminal matters. In August of 2007, Judge McWilliams was assigned to the Law Division’s Jury Section, where she currently presides over tort, complex litigation, and personal injury trials. Since August of 2013, Judge McWilliams has served as the Supervising Judge of the Cook County Asbestos Docket for all purposes, including motions, emergencies, and trial.
Judge McWilliams received her Juris Doctor degree from the John Marshall Law School, where she has taught as an adjunct professor in both advanced trial advocacy and evidence-related courses. Judge McWilliams also serves as a faculty member teaching fellow judges at the State of Illinois Judicial Education Conferences.
She is a participant in the judicial mentoring program for new judges and has educated dozens of law students as part of her judicial internship program. She is a frequent panelist and speaker at various legal education seminars and symposiums nationwide, and particularly those that concern legal ethics and professional responsibility.
Juan Morado, Jr.
Juan Morado, Jr. is a Partner at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, LLP in the Benesch Healthcare+ Practice Group, where he advises hospitals, health systems, physician groups, pharmacies, cannabis businesses and other clients, helping them to ensure compliance while navigating complex regulatory requirements and implementation of industry best practices.
Mr. Morado is one of the leading Certificate of Need (CON) attorneys in Illinois, successfully working with clients to establish new hospitals, surgery centers, nursing homes, and obtain regulatory approval for complex multi-million dollar facility changes of ownership. Mr. Morado serves as Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at his firm, and is a member of the Hiring and Civic Engagement Committees.
Prior to joining Benesch, he served as General Counsel and Ethics Officer to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board (HFSRB) and in Governor Pat Quinn’s administration from 2013-2015. His last appointment was as a Deputy Chief of Staff, where he served as the Governor's Senior Advisor on Transportation and Infrastructure Policy. He also served as an advisor on economic development and employment issues facing the Latino community in Illinois. Before joining the Governor's office, he served as an Assistant General Counsel for the HFSRB from 2011-2013. He began his legal career as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago.
Mr. Morado’s current civic engagements include serving as the Immediate Past President of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Commissioner and Vice-President of the Illinois Medical District Commission, Chair of the Latino Leadership Council, Board Director for the We CAN Achieve Foundation, the Medical Organization of Latino Advancement, and a member of the Teatro Vista Advisory Board. He is an active member of the American Health Law Attorney Association, Illinois Association of Health Law Attorneys, Chicago Bar Association, and the Hispanic National Bar Association.
He received a Bachelor of Arts in History with a Minor in American Political Systems from DePaul University and a Juris Doctor from Chicago Kent-College of Law.
Lauren Novak is a partner and Deputy Practice Group Leader of Schiff Hardin’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. Previously serving as in-house counsel for a labor union, Ms. Novak has expertise in all areas of labor and employment law.
In her current practice, Ms. Novak represents management issues related to collective bargaining, labor disputes, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, biometric information privacy, non-compete agreements, OSHA compliance, leaves of absences, and wage and hour complaints.
She advises across a diverse range of industries, including food and beverage, automotive, construction, gaming, manufacturing, outsourcing, education, telecommunications, and staffing services, including security staffing.
Ms. Novak is a founding member of Schiff Hardin’s Workplace Investigations Team which assists clients with investigations, compliance and resolution as the focus on sexual harassment in the workplace has increased. She regularly contributes insights to Schiff Hardin’s labor and employment blog, Employment Law Landscape
, and frequently speaks on topics related to labor and employment law, women in the legal workforce, and workplace ethical issues.
Ms. Novak is a past Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Bar Association’s Alliance for Women and the CBA’s Young Lawyers Section Career Assistance Committee. She also provides labor and employment advice on a pro bono basis for several non-profit organizations in the Chicago community.
Ms. Novak received her bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University and her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Hon. Nichole C. Patton
Nichole Patton is a Cook County Circuit Court Judge assigned to the County Division where she presides over cases involving mental health law, adoptions, election law, civil asset forfeitures, name changes and real estate tax objections.
Prior to her role in the judiciary, Judge Patton was an Assistant State’s Attorney with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office where she worked in the Mental Health Unit of the Special Prosecutions Bureau prosecuting cases seeking civil commitment and treatment orders for individuals who were involuntarily detained at mental health hospitals in Cook County.
From 2003-2010, Judge Patton was a sole practitioner with a concentration in real estate, civil litigation, criminal and securities law. She is the former general counsel for Capital Management Group Securities, LLC where she was responsible for structuring and negotiating business transactions, performing due diligence and drafting transactional documents.
She was also an associate with the law firm of Iwan Cray Huber Horstman & VanAusdal where she concentrated in medical malpractice and transportation defense and a staff attorney with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company where she specialized in personal injury defense and strict liability matters. Judge Patton also served as an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney from 1996 to 2001 working in several divisions including appeals, traffic, child protection, delinquency and real estate taxation.
In addition to her service on the CBA Board of Managers, Judge Patton is a member of the Board of Directors for The Lawyers Club of Chicago, and a member of the Chi Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the South Suburban Chapter of Jack and Jill of America and the West Towns Chapter of The Links.
Judge Patton received her bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University, her master’s degree from Chicago State University and her J.D. from The John Marshall Law School.
Brandon E. Peck
Brandon E. Peck is a Partner with Peck Ritchey, LLC where he represents individuals, families, financial and medical institutions. Mr. Peck concentrates his practice in the areas of trust, estate, and guardianship litigation and administration, advising fiduciaries charged with the administration of estates and trusts and guiding them through the probate process. He routinely represents all parties in contested guardianships including minors and disabled adults.
For five consecutive years, Mr. Peck has been selected by his peers in multiple statewide surveys of Illinois attorneys as a “Super Lawyer”, an attorney to whom other attorneys would refer their family. From 2015-2018 he has also been selected by Leading Lawyers Magazine as a top emerging lawyer in Elder Law, Trust, Will and Estate Planning. He also was a contributor to the book Alzheimer’s and the Law, which was published by the American Bar Association in 2013.
Mr. Peck is the former Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyer’s Section. He lectures frequently in the areas of trust and estate litigation, guardianships, special needs and estate planning before his colleagues and other professionals, including at The Chicago Bar Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, as well as numerous hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and community organizations. Mr. Peck is authorized to practice law in Illinois and in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Ashley Rafael is General Counsel to Midway Moving & Storage, Inc. where she practices commercial litigation and negotiates contracts with corporate clients and government agencies such as the City of Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority, the Board of Elections and Chicago Public Schools.
Prior to joining Midway, she was an associate at two plaintiff personal injury law firms. To date, she has tried 25 jury trials to verdict as well as numerous bench trials.
Ms. Rafael is also an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, serving on its UI/UM, Commercial Division and Consumer Division panels. She is an adjunct Professor of Law at University of Illinois Chicago John Marshall Law School, teaching Arbitration Advocacy as well as coaching law students for National trial and arbitration competitions. She is certified to preside as chair arbitrator for Cook County Mandatory Arbitration Program and the Commercial Calendar Mandatory Arbitration Program for the Law Division.
Ms. Rafael also initiated and developed a program that provides employment opportunities for veterans and nonviolent ex-offenders, working closely with Cook County’s Specialty Courts. She is an active member of the Chicago Bar Association, serving on the Judicial Evaluation Committee, the planning committee for the CBA Mediation Program, and chairperson for the ADR committee. She is a frequent speaker and has published articles that have appeared in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and the Women’s Bar Association Newsletter. She supports many Chicago community organizations and performs pro bono work.
Trisha Rich is a Chicago litigation attorney and a member of Holland & Knight's Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice, focusing on complex commercial litigation, legal ethics and professional responsibility matters. Ms. Rich represents a wide variety of clients in litigation and other disputes, including national and international companies, small businesses, municipalities and state agencies, and individuals.
As a member of the firm's Legal Profession Team, Ms. Rich advises lawyers, law firms, and in-house counsel on a variety of issues related to professional responsibility and legal ethics, including professional responsibility, malpractice, partnership and corporate structuring, law firm management and employment issues, fee disputes, conflicts, confidentiality, and privilege, as well as all areas of legal ethics.
Ms. Rich is active in the legal ethics community and founded the Attorney Defense Initiative, the first privately sponsored pro bono initiative in the nation that focuses on assisting impaired lawyers facing disciplinary charges. She is also a member of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and a frequent speaker and author on a variety of issues related to ethics and risk management.
She is a member of the Trial Bar for the Northern District of Illinois, has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and is a 2012 graduate of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy's national trial practice program.
Ms. Rich obtained her undergraduate and her Master’s degrees from Western Michigan University and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.
Antonio M. Romanucci
Antonio M. Romanucci is a founding partner in the Chicago-based law firm of Romanucci & Blandin LLC, a national trial practice committed to fighting for victims of negligence, abuse and wrongful death arising from corporate negligence, civil rights actions, business interruption, medical malpractice, mass torts and class actions, as well as police misconduct.
Mr. Romanucci has a steadfast commitment to fighting for those seeking justice across the country in complex, high profile mass tort cases such as the fight against e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL, Boeing for its faulty 737 MAX aircraft, the carcinogenic environmental pollution caused by Sterigenics and in the MGM Las Vegas Shooting. He has taken a lead role in national cases related to COVID-19 business interruption on behalf of restaurants, retail companies and the service industry in a quest to hold insurance companies responsible for their contractual payment to their customers.
Often called upon as an expert, Mr. Romanucci appears regularly on local and national television to comment on his own cases, as well as other high profile legal matters and trends. He has appeared on CNN, CBS This Morning, and Chicago’s ABC, NBC, CBS, WGN and FOX. Additionally, he contributes to stories regularly in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press and others.
Outside the courtroom, Mr. Romanucci participates in many professional and charitable organizations. He currently serves as President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Vice President of the Judicial Accountability PAC, sits as Chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee, and is in multiple leadership roles for the American Association for Justice, including: Co-Chair of the Finance Council, Judiciary Liaison for the state of Illinois, and Chair of the Ethylene Oxide Litigation Group.
Mr. Romanucci earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 1982 and earned his law degree from John Marshall Law School in 1985. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois and before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois along with numerous other pro hac vice admissions throughout the country.
Ajay Shah is the CEO of Globetrotters Engineering Corporation, a full-service government sector architect / engineering company in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to becoming CEO, he was COO & General Counsel at Globetrotters.
Mr. Shah’s private practice has included federal civil rights, federal criminal defense appeals, commercial real estate, and general corporate law.
Mr. Shah has extensive service to the Bar including serving on the Board of the South Asian Bar Association, the Illinois Supreme Court Committee for Character and Fitness, and the Criminal Justice Act Panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He has also been recognized on the Honor Roll of Appointed Counsel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.; Prior to joining the Board of the Chicago Bar Association, he served on the Judicial Evaluation Committee for the CBA.
Mr. Shah received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Purdue University, his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law, and his OPM Certificate from Harvard Business School.
Hon. Maria Valdez
Hon. Maria Valdez is the Presiding Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. Prior to becoming a federal magistrate judge she was the Chicago Regional Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), concentrating her trial and appellate practice in the areas of constitutional law and the federal Voting Rights Act.
Judge Valdez began her legal career in 1988 as a federal public defender in Los Angeles, representing indigent criminal defendants. Judge Valdez also worked as a senior associate at the law firm of Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym in Chicago where she specialized in federal civil rights litigation. Judge Valdez has participated on countless panels discussing federal civil procedure and practice.
Judge Valdez received her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She was appointed to the federal magistrate judge bench in January of 2005.
Adam M. Zebelian
Adam Miel Zebelian joined the Chicago firm of Schiller DuCanto & Fleck after seven years as an Assistant State’s Attorney, litigating countless criminal and civil matters. As a prosecutor, he made charging decisions, conducted in-depth investigations, handled pre-trial hearings and motions and conducted over a hundred trials, including both bench and jury trials. His extensive trial experience, including financial crimes cases, gives him the ability to try complex matters, as well as the ability and creativity to achieve out-of-court resolutions.
Mr. Zebelian began as a prosecutor in the Criminal Appeals Division, where he litigated cases before the Illinois Appellate Court. He also served in the Domestic Violence Division, where he prosecuted intrafamily violent crime before advancing to the Special Prosecutions Bureau, where he handled matters involving complicated thefts, public corruption, gun crimes and gang-related murders. He also served in the Civil Actions Bureau of the State’s Attorney’s Office, defending the county in both state and federal court.
After joining Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, Mr. Zebelian continued his dedication to community service. For the last several years, he has volunteered for the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, organizing and executing its annual fundraiser as host committee chair.
He serves on the Board of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago; the Jr. Board of the Chicago Lighthouse; the Board of Trustees for Chicago House and Social Service Agency; Host Committee Chair for the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network's annual benefit; Unity Award Dinner planning committee for the Diversity Scholarship Foundation; and is currently the Co-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Section Family Law Committee and past Chair of the Criminal Law Committee.
General Counsel: Howard S. Suskin
Howard S. Suskin is a partner in Jenner & Block’s Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the firm’s Securities Litigation Practice and its Class Action Practice. Mr. Suskin has substantial first-chair experience representing individuals and business entities in civil and criminal securities matters, including class actions alleging securities fraud and misrepresentation claims, derivative actions claiming breach of fiduciary duty, contests for corporate control, insider trading investigations and broker-dealer issues.
Mr. Suskin serves as an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association, and for self-regulatory organizations including the Chicago Board Options Exchange, FINRA and the National Futures Association.
Mr. Suskin is an active member of the ABA Securities Law Committee, including serving as co-chair of the Class and Derivative Actions Subcommittee. He currently serves as general counsel for the Chicago Bar Association and served previously as chairman of the CBA’s Class Action, Bench and Bar, Financial and Investment Services and Securities Law committees.
Mr. Suskin is a member of the Advisory Board of Board IQ, a Financial Times publication, and The Deal, and he has served as a member of the Securities Editorial Advisory Board of Law360. He has lectured extensively and has published numerous treatises and articles on issues relating to arbitrations, class actions and securities law, including serving as editor and co-author of the West Publishing Illinois Civil Litigation Guide, Moore’s Federal Civil Motion Practice and Pretrial Civil Litigation, the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education Treatise on Class Actions, and the ABA’s Annual Survey of State Class Action Litigation.
Mr. Suskin received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was a member of the Michigan Law Review.