CBA Officers & Board of Managers 2021-2022
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.
Ms. Grayson earned her bachelor’s degree from Franklin College and her J.D. from Indiana University’s School of Law.
First 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.
Second Vice President 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.
Secretary Kathryn C. Liss
Kathryn C. Liss (Katie) is the Executive Director of the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center and an Assistant Director of Law Career Services at DePaul University College of Law. She received her J.D. degree from DePaul University College of Law and B.S. from Miami University (Ohio). Prior to her current position, Ms. Liss practiced solely in domestic relations for over ten years handling cases involving divorce, paternity matters, adoptions, orders of protection, and mediations. She also served as a court appointed Child Representative and Guardian ad Litem in Cook County.
Ms. Liss is actively involved in the Chicago Bar Association where she currently is serving as Co-Chair of the Alliance for Women and serves on the Board of Managers and CBA's Record Editorial Board. She previously served as Chair of the CBA's Young Lawyers Section and founded the CBA’s Anti-Human Trafficking Committee and the CBA’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Assault. Ms. Liss served as a past member of the Chicago Bar Foundation's Board of Directors, the Chicago Bar Foundation's Young Professional Board, and the Center for Conflict Resolution's Board of Directors. She also mentors undergraduate pre-law students through her work on Miami University's Pre-Law Alumni Advisory Board.
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 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.
Board of Managers:
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 Cook County's Child Protection Division and Juvenile Justice Division prosecutions.
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). She served as CBA President during the bar year 2020-2021
Ms. Ahmad received her bachelor’s degree from Chatham College, her master’s degree from Bucknell University, and her J.D. from DePaul University.
Michael Alkaraki is a partner and trial lawyer at Leahy Hoste Alkaraki, where he represents plaintiffs in cases of catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability and wrongful death. He is an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where he teaches Advocacy, Trial Practice and Professional Identity Formation and serves on the Dean’s Diversity Council and the Alumni Board of Governors.
Mr. Alkaraki holds a variety of leadership positions within the organized bar, publishes and presents frequently on topics related to his practice areas and serves a trusted arbitrator appointed by other attorneys in their cases. He is a Certified Mediator in the CBA Mediation Service, serves as a Mediator-Coach for attorneys undergoing advanced skills training in negotiation and alternative dispute resolution and serves as faculty for the CBA Trial Academy intensive skills training course. He is the Chair of the CBA Media Production Committee, a member of the CBA Trial Practice Committee and served for many years on the CBA Judicial Evaluation Committee before joining the Board of Managers.
In 2021, Loyola University Chicago School of Law recognized Mr. Alkaraki with the St. Robert Bellarmine Award, which honors alumni who have distinguished themselves within their first 15 years of practice by their contributions to the profession and the School of Law. In 2019, the Illinois State Bar Association recognized Mr. Alkaraki with the Civic Education Award for his dedication to advancing public understanding of the judicial process and the role of attorneys in society, and in 2017, Mr. Alkaraki was recognized as one of “Forty Under 40 Illinois Attorneys to Watch” by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin/Chicago Lawyer Magazine for his success in the courtroom and commitment to the profession and broader community.
Mr. Alkaraki received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Saint Joseph’s College and his J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School 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.
Octavio Duran is the owner and principal of Duran Law Offices. He dedicates his practice to representing individuals and families in all areas of personal injury including automobile collisions, construction negligence, premises liability and workers compensation. He started his law firm in September 2019.
Mr. Duran recently completed ten years of service through the Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association. Through the YLS, he received multiple awards and recognitions, including the “Rising Star,” “Best Project,” and “Public Service,” Awards.
He is licensed to practice law in Illinois, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Mr. Duran has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers from 2014 to the present.
Prior to receiving his law degree, Mr. Duran tried multiple misdemeanor bench trials for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office under the authority of the Illinois Supreme Court and the certification of the Dean of his law school.
Mr. Duran served as a mentor for various law school students through various organizations like the Chicago Bar Association, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, and Chicago Public Schools.
He has also launched multiple fundraisers for legal aid through the Chicago Bar Foundation, raising over $30,000.00 each year for the past four years. The funds go to a higher mission that Octavio and the Chicago Bar Foundation maintain, which is to improve access to justice for historically underprivileged communities.
Robert W. Fioretti
Robert Fioretti is a seasoned litigator and certified mediator bringing his clients a diverse range of legal experience. A partner in the law firm Roth Fioretti LLC, he has handled cases in complex litigation and governmental law, many of which have been litigated in federal and state court or resolved through arbitration and mediation.
Mr. Fioretti cultivated his experience as a Senior Supervising Attorney of the General Litigation Division for the Corporation Counsel working in the Mayor Harold Washington administration. He was involved in more than 500 civil rights cases. His personal trial experiences have led to over 100 state and federal verdicts and appellate court decisions. He was appointed to numerous cases as an Illinois Special Assistant Attorney General and Special Assistant State’s Attorney.
Mr. Fioretti served two terms on the Chicago City Council as 2nd Ward Alderman where he focused on education, community development, and helped create over 8,000 jobs. He earned his J.D. from Northern Illinois University College of Law and is a member of the adjunct faculty.
Mr. Fioretti remains deeply involved in the Chicago community where he serves on various boards and lectures extensively on the legal profession, education, civics and has received numerous awards for his work in public service and the legal profession. He continues to serve his community with pro bono legal services.
He has served on the Character and Fitness Committee of the Illinois Supreme Court and the Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Chicago Bar Association Executive Committee. He was elected to the Illinois State Bar Association Assembly in 2019.
Malcolm "Skip" Harsch
Skip is the Director of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and the ABA’s Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities. As director of these Commissions, he oversees and is involved in the planning and implementation of many of the ABA’s Hispanic and LGBTQ+ initiatives including national advocacy, ABA policy work, and legal educational programming. In his role at the ABA, Mr. Harsch helped created and implement the ABA’s ‘How to Be an Ally’ Toolkit and has presented both nationally and internationally on Allyship in the workplace. He is also a contributor to the publication, Out and About: The LGBT Experience in the Workplace.
Mr. Harsch is a native of Illinois with strong ties to the Midwest. He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Iowa and his JD from DePaul University College of law. While at DePaul, he began his association and non-profit crusade as a summer intern at Lambda Legal. Mr. Harsch is the immediate past Co-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) LGBT Committee and sits on the board of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago (LAGBAC). He is a past CBA Young Lawyers Section executive committee member, a past at-large board member for the National LGBT Bar Association and was extremely involved in the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago.
Risa R. Lanier
Risa Lanier is a 20-year veteran prosecutor at the country’s second largest prosecutor’s office, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. She currently sits as the Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, the first African American to be promoted to this high office, which oversees all criminal prosecutions throughout all of Cook County, with approximately 450 lawyers assigned to the bureau. As Chief, Ms. Lanier works directly with State’s Attorney Foxx and her executive staff to create policies and procedures in the State’s Attorney’s Office that promote public safety while recognizing and combatting historical inequalities inherent in the criminal justice system through a progressive prosecution model. She also helps develop in-house training programs, engage with stakeholders and community members, and prosecutes high profile cases such as the murder of Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer.
Outside of her official duties, Ms. Lanier serve’s the community in a variety of ways. She is a member of the National Black Prosecutors Association where she mentors younger African American prosecutors. She is also the Immediate Past Chair for the Judicial Evaluation Committee of the Chicago Bar Association.
Ms. Lanier is an alumnus of the Civic Leadership Academy (Class of 2018) at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Patty McCarthy is a Regional Sales Manager with LexisNexis where she leads a team of Practice Area Consultants who work with large law firm customers and law schools. Over her 20 years with LexisNexis, she has worked with law firms across the country to help them leverage and utilize the LexisNexis investments to assist them in serving their clients and growing their business. She has held numerous positions within LexisNexis, and especially enjoys her role as a “people leader” which involves coaching and mentoring.
Ms. McCarthy embraces the LexisNexis corporate values to promote the Rule of Law and was most recently a member of the Board of Directors of the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago. Her involvement with the CBA reaches back as a student member of the YLS, co-chair of the YLS Environmental Law Committee, recipient of the “David C. Hilliard Award for Outstanding Committee Service” and a member of YLS Board of Directors. More recently, she was a member of CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law and Innovation.
Ms. McCarthy joined LexisNexis after practicing as a litigator for seven years. The firms included: Wildman Harrold (practice areas: Bankruptcy, Complex Product Liability and Environmental); Seyfarth Shaw (Environmental) and Coffield Ungaretti & Harris (Environmental). During law school, her work experience included: summer associate at McConnell, Valdes, Kelley, Sifre, Griggs & Ruiz-Suria in San Juan, Puerto Rico and an internship at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Regional Counsel in Chicago.
Ms. McCarthy began her career in Atlanta, Georgia as a CPA and worked as a Senior Accountant at Arthur Andersen. Her volunteer activities in Atlanta included being on the Atlanta Organizing Committee for the 1996 Olympics.
Ms. McCarthy received her JD from DePaul University College of Law and graduated with a B.S. with Honors, in Business Administration with concentration in Accounting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
James M. McGing
Judge McGing currently serves as a partner in the firm of Miller & McGing Law Firm. He served as the Supervising Judge of the Law Division, Tax and Miscellaneous Remedies Section.
Prior to this assignment Judge McGing presided in the Jury Section in cases including medical negligence, wrongful death, construction accidents, asbestos, traffic accidents and premises liability.
Judge McGing previously served in a variety of top local enforcement positions including the Director of Organized Crime Intelligence, Director of Operations, Chief Administrative Officer and Legal Counsel for the Sheriff of Cook County. He was also a partner in the law firm of Miller, Fanucchi and McGing for 14 years where he concentrated his practice in civil and criminal litigation matters. Prior to that, Judge McGing served as a trial attorney for the law firm of Francis A. Nolan and Associates. He also served as an Administrative Law Judge for the City of Chicago’s License Commission overseeing business and liquor licenses and an Administrative Law Judge for the City of Chicago for personnel matters and police and fire applicants.
Judge McGing also served as a Special State’s Attorney appointed in several matters by a Circuit Court Judge and served as an Appellate Prosecutor representing State’s Attorney’s offices throughout Illinois in their appeals to Appellate Courts throughout Illinois. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Judge McGing is a graduate of the DePaul University School of Law, JD 1986, DePaul University BA 1983 and the FBI National Academy, Quantico, Virginia 1999. He served from 2006 to 2019 as a Circuit Court Judge. He has served on the oversight board of the U.S. Department of Justice- Chicago Regional Computer Forensic Lab, as President of the FBI National Academy Associates of Northern Illinois, as a representative to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Member of the Cook County Criminal Warrant Committee, Member of the Cook County Criminal Apprehension and Booking System (CABS) that brought Live-Scan and uniform booking to more than 100 police departments in Cook County, member of the Cook County 911 Board and was appointed by then U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to the Chicago Anti-Violence Initiative.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sandra S. Yamate is the CEO of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (“IILP”). IILP is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive legal profession through research and educational programming. IILP works primarily in the US but has begun expanding its efforts into the UK, EU, and Latin America. She spent ten years as the Director of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession and the preceding three years as the first Executive Director of the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms. Prior to that, she was a litigator in Chicago for ten years.
Ms. Yamate is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Women Lawyers (“NAWL”), where she serves as a member of both the Advocacy and Survey Committees. She is a member of the Board of Trustees and a former Chair of the National Judicial College, where she chairs the Nominations and Governance Committee, and a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee.
Ms. Yamate was a founding member of both the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, where she was its third president and first woman president, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) where she was the first Central Region Governor, organized NAPABA’s first regional conference, and is currently a member of its Leadership Advisory Council. She chairs the Harvard Law School Asian American Alumni Group and helped found both the Asian American Institute in Chicago (now the Chicago affiliate of Asian Americans Advancing Justice) and the National Women’s Political Caucus of Greater Chicago. She is a steadfast member of the Chicago Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee where she annually chairs the Chicago Bar Association’s Holiday Drive to Support Local Animal Shelters. She has been honored to be the recipient of numerous awards, most recently the 2020 Women’s Leadership Award from NAPABA and the National Bar Association’s 2021 Global Advocates Award.
Ms. Yamate earned her JD from Harvard Law School and her AB in Political Science (cum laude) and History (magna cum laude) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She and her husband, Brian Witkowski, parent two badly behaved, poor-trained, but nevertheless lovable husky mixes, Cashew and Filbert, who hope WFH never ends.
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.