Young Lawyers Section Executive Council

The YLS Executive Council, chaired by the Chair of the Section, is composed of approximately 100 volunteer attorneys. The  Council aims to address the needs and interests of attorneys during their first 10 years of practice. It also sets the policy and exercises general supervision and control over the Section subject to the provisions of the YLS By-Laws. The Executive Council is comprised of the Officers, the Immediate Past Chair, the Directors, the Chairs of each of the various YLS Committees, and Special Project Coordinators. The Executive Council meets on the third Wednesday of every month and at additional times when called by the Chair.

Officers and Directors

The Section’s officers consist of a Chair, First Vice-Chair, Second Vice-Chair, a Member Service Manager, a Public Service Manager, a Secretary/Treasurer, two Project Officers, two Editors-in-Chief of the YLS Journal section of CBA Record, two Editors-in-Chief of the YLS's Online Publication, a Health & Wellness Facilitator, Immediate Past Chair, and ten Directors. The Chair, First Vice-Chair, Second Vice-Chair, Member Service Manager, Public Service Manager, Secretary, Treasurer, and Project Officers serve one-year terms. The Editors-in-Chief of the YLS Journal section of CBA Record, the Editors-in-Chief of the Section's Online Publication, and the Directors serve two-year terms. The Chair is not eligible for re-election. The Second Vice-Chair automatically success to the position of First Vice-Chair and the First Vice-Chair automatically succeeds to the position of Chair at the conclusion of his or her term.

Daniel Berkowitz
Chair

Daniel Berkowitz is an Assistant Attorney General with the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. He practices in the General Law Bureau, with a focus on defending State Agencies and State Employees when they are sued in court. He handles all manner of complex litigation from initial case analysis through trial. He is actively involved in a number of CBA Committees including the CBA Record Editorial Board, the Strategic Planning Committee, and the 150th Anniversary Committee. 

Martin Gould
First Vice Chair

Martin D. Gould is a Partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC where he works in the firm’s complex litigation and catastrophic injury group, representing individuals and classes of victims in wrongful death, toxic exposure, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, auto and trucking accidents, construction and other workplace accidents, sexual abuse, including priest abuse, product defect, and airline crashes. Martin graduated toward the top of his class from Chicago-Kent College of Law, cum laude, and was a published member of the Chicago-Kent Law Review. Currently, Martin holds leadership positions within numerous legal organizations, including serving as a Junior Council Member of Child USA and serving as a Co-Chair of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association’s Young Lawyers Division. Martin earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Northwestern University, where he was also a four-year member of the Northwestern Varsity Wrestling Team. The team placed 4th in the NCAAs Martin’s sophomore year in 2007.



 

Kenneth Matuszewski
Second Vice Chair

"Kenneth A. Matuszewski is a registered Patent Attorney and Associate at Goldberg Segalla with a background across several technical backgrounds, including the life sciences, software, electrical, and mechanical technologies. His practice focuses on complex and high-value intellectual property litigation in federal district court and before the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Kenny leverages his experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to early-stage startups to obtain favorable outcomes during litigation and while drafting and prosecuting patent applications. Representative technologies he has worked on include gaming technologies, cancer treatments, blockchain, opioid treatments, medical devices, microphones, drones, gene therapies, pollution control technologies, and power tools. 

He has been recognized early in his career for his leadership and writing, including the American Bar Association’s On The Rise: Top 40 Young Lawyers Award, and the Top Emerging IP Player Award from IPR Gorilla Conference. He has also been selected to Super Lawyers' Rising Stars List in 2021 and 2022, which is awarded to less than 2% of all attorneys under the age of 40 in Illinois. Recently, Patexia ranked Kenneth #12 among the Most Active and Best Performing Patent Litigators of 2022 in Plaintiff Activity out of 14,685 patent litigators across the country. 

When he is not working, Kenneth devotes substantial time to his community through his involvement in the Chicago Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section ("YLS"), where he currently serves as the Second Vice Chair. Previously, he co-founded, and continues to co-chair, the Young Lawyers Section's Racial Justice Coalition, and served as the first Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning @theBar blog. The YLS has recognized Kenneth for his efforts over the years by honoring him with all 4 awards that YLS members are eligible to receive. 
A firm believer that learning is a lifelong process, Kenny graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from Oregon State University. Previously, he double-majored in Biological Sciences and Spanish at the University of Notre Dame and earned his J.D. at Chicago-Kent College of Law."

 


 

Kernisha Padilla
Secretary/Treasurer

Kernisha Padilla is a conflicts attorney at Latham & Watkins. She also has a passion in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs flourish and grow through proper legal representation. Kernisha is a native of North Carolina who relocated to Chicago in 2015. Prior to relocating Kernisha served as managing partner of Gilbert & Rivera, PC and as an adjunct professor at UNC- Charlotte. She is chair of the YLS Women in the Law Committee  and received the YLS’ Rising Star Award for Leaders with Exceptional Promise in 2021.  




Gavin Phelps
Member Services Manager

Gavin Phelps is a business law attorney helping clients with everything from starting a business, negotiating/drafting contracts, insurance coverage analysis, or anything in between. He has worked with start-ups, nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies. Gavin graduated from Hillsdale College with a bachelors in Political Economics and received his J.D. from Notre Dame Law School in 2016. His passion is to help clients be competitive.




Margaret Mendenhall Casey
Public Service Manager

Maggie is a Supervising Assistant Corporation Counsel with the City of Chicago Department of Law. She advises clients on Freedom of Information Act and Local Record Act Compliance. She has represented the taxpayers of the City of Chicago in jury trials including wrongful death, police conduct, and premises liability. Prior to working for the City, Maggie served as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, advocating on behalf of victims of crime. While working as a prosecutor, Maggie tried numerous cases to verdict including jury trials, felonies, and sexual assaults. Maggie won the Milton H. Gray Award for Outstanding Project Leadership for the 2021-2022 bar year. She currently sits on the board of the Black Women Lawyers' Association. 

Brittany Kaplan
Project Officer

Brittany is an attorney at K&L Gates LLP. Her practices focuses on intellectual property law with a concentration on trademark clearance, prosecution, protection, enforcement and supporting portfolio management for clients ranging from multi-national to start-up companies across industries. In addition, Brittany assists clients with copyright infringements, trade dress infringements, domain name disputes, and social media crises. Brittany is actively involved in the YLS most recently as a Legislative Liaison for the Creative Arts Committee as well as a Co-Chair and a Chair of the Intellectual Property Law Committee. Currently, Brittany is an Associate with The Richard Linn American Inn of Court and was recently a Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago’s Copyright Committee. Brittany graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2019 where she was part of the National Championship team for the Saul Lefkowtiz Moot Court Competition. Brittany also earned her Master of Science degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2007 and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a minor in English from Michigan State University in 2006. Prior to becoming an attorney, Brittany was a magazine editor for almost ten years. 


Aleksandra Petrovic
Project Officer

Aleksandra Petrovic is an associate attorney at Damisch & Damisch, Ltd. She represents Plaintiff's in a variety of Civil Litigation matters including personal injury, premises liability, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death. Aleksandra has also assisted her clients and other attorneys nationwide with ERISA subrogation negotiation on both a state and federal level. Aleksandra has received a Certificate of Excellence from the Office of the Cook County Treasurer for her commitment and dedication to the Serbian American community through her participation with the Serbian Bar Association of America. She also received the Rising Star Award from the YLS in 2020.  Aleksandra graduated from Lake Forest College with a bachelors in Economics and Philosophy and earned her J.D. from Tulane University Law School. In the past she has spent time working with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings General Counsel helping the City of Chicago modernize it's crane, masonry, and trade regulation codes.  She also had an externship with the New Orleans City Attorney's Office assisting on various Federal Civil Litigation cases and spent two summers with a 711 License at the Cook County Public Defender's Office where she defended and won a Felony Bench Trial. 




Jacob Berger
Co-Editor-in-Chief of YLS Journal

Jake is an associate at Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC, practicing primarily in the area of the commercial litigation in various state and federal courts throughout the country.  Jake has extensive experience in all aspects of the litigation process, including pre-suit investigation and development, e-discovery, depositions, trials, and appeals.  He also regularly counsels many different types of clients, from startups to well-established leaders in their respective industries, on issues such as business formation, risk management, and employment issues.  As a result of Jake’s strong commitment to pro bono work and to serving the Bar, Jake received the 2022 Excellence in Pro Bono Award from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Jake is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin (2009), where he doubled majored in Political Science and International Studies:  International Political Economy, matriculated with honors, and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.  He is also a proud graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law (2014), where Jake graduated near the top of his class with magna cum laude honors, was inducted into the Order of the Coif, and served on the executive boards of both the Chicago-Kent Law Review and the Chicago-Kent Moot Court Honors Society.



 

Ted Kontopoulos
Co-Editor-in-Chief of YLS Journal

Ted Kontopoulos is a senior tax consultant II at FORVIS in their tax controversy services group where he also provides international tax services.  His international tax services include inbound and outbound tax planning and compliance for multinational companies, individuals, trusts, non-profits, and estates.  His tax controversy services include representing clients before the IRS and state tax authorities, foreign financial asset reporting, and submissions under voluntary disclosure programs. Ted currently serves as co-chair of the YLS federal taxation committee, but he has also co-ran the Law Student Career Immersion Program and served as a co-chair on the YLS Business Law Transactions Committee where he won the 2021 David C. Hilliard Award for Outstanding Committee Service.  He has published articles in Tax Notes, Journal of Multistate Taxation and Incentives, Journal of International Taxation, The Record, CBA @theBar Blog, and University of Illinois Law Review.  Ted graduated magna cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law, served as Note Topic Editor for University of Illinois Law Review, and won the 2018 Rickert Award for Excellence in Legal Writing.  He also graduated magna cum laude from Boston College with a B.A. degree in political science, earned Phi Beta Kappa honors and led the Fulton Debating Society to the 67th National Debate Tournament as co-captain.    

Brian Bentrup
Co-Editor in Chief of the @theBar Blog

Brian M. Bentrup is a Senior Associate at Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee, Ltd. He concentrates his practice in Estates and Trusts, specifically focusing on the areas of estate planning, probate and trust administration, and guardianships of minors and disabled adults. Brian also devotes a portion of his practice to commercial real estate. Brian graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law (formerly The John Marshall Law School). Brian has been on the Young Lawyer’s Section’s Steering Committee since 2020 and served as Assistant Editor. Brian also co-authored a chapter in the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Asset Protection Planning Smartbook (2022 Edition) entitled Drafting Considerations for Trusts, which focused on asset protection and trustee discretion. Prior to law school, Brian attended Loyola University Chicago where he triple majored in political science, economics and psychology.  

 





Alexandra Morelli
Co-Editor in Chief of the @theBar Blog

Alexandra concentrates her practice in the area of medical negligence serving in the defense of hospitals, physicians, and medical staff members. Her medical malpractice defense  work involves pre-litigation investigation and counseling, as well as guidance and recommendations to her clients in various risk management strategies. She also handles a wide variety of civil defense litigation where she represents not-for-profit organizations, health care facilities, and building management companies, in cases involving premises liability and  personal injury. Prior to joining Barker, Castro & Steinback, LLC, Alexandra worked as a law clerk at one of Chicago’s prevalent plaintiff litigation firms, where she gained  invaluable experience she uses to defend her current clients.

 

Tracy Brammeier
Immediate Past Chair

Tracy is an attorney at Clifford Law Offices, P.C.  Her practice focuses on aviation, transportation, premises, and construction liability in addition to other areas of personal injury and wrongful death litigation.  She obtained a certificate in advocacy from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and has served as a judicial extern in the Northern District of Illinois. Previously, Tracy has been involved in the YLS as Public Services Manager and enjoys participating in the YLS Wills for Heroes project. She also serves on the Board of Managers of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.