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Legal Industry News November 2021: Law Firm Hiring, Legal Innovation & Pro Bono
Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving! We’re back with another edition of our legal industry news column, highlighting the latest attorney moves, law firm hiring, innovation and pro bono efforts.  Read on for the latest news.

Attorney Moves & Law Firm Hiring

Shumaker added several new attorneys to its Sarasota, Tampa and Toledo offices. The newest hires include Jacqueline Gardner and Travis Taaffe in Sarasota, who are also members of Shumaker’s Financial Services Industry Group.

“We are excited to add two new associates to the Financial Services Business Sector here in Sarasota with the addition of Jackie and Travis,” said Sarasota Litigation and Disputes Regional Service Line Leader and Financial Services Business Sector Chair Mike Taaffe. “Both Jackie and Travis worked with our team as summer associates and we see exceptional promise from both of them.”

Steven Nicholas and Robert White joined the firm in Tampa. Mr. Nicholas previously served as a Federal Judicial Intern for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, where he clerked for Judge William Jung. Mr. White joined the firm from a large Midwest firm, after previously having a career as a stage actor.

Evan Bunis joined Shumaker in Toledo, where he will focus on general litigation matters, such as claims in labor and employment disputes, trust disputes, construction cases and more.

“We’re excited to watch Evan launch his promising legal career at Shumaker,” shared Toledo’s Litigation and Disputes Regional Service Line Leader Mark Wagoner. “Evan has the smarts, temperament, and drive to be an exceptional trial attorney, and he’s already proven himself to be a valuable member of our team.”

Staff Attorneys Caley Aidif and Sara Jawad, Associate Sean Bevil, and Partner Larry Obhof also joined Shumaker’s Litigation and Disputes Group in 2021.

Roland Potts joined the Litigation Department at Foley and Lardner as Of Counsel in its Miami office. Mr. Potts will be a member of Foley’s Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice Group.

“By joining Foley in Miami and tapping into the strength of the Litigation Department, I’ll be able to provide our clients with the in-depth, cross-platform service they need in order to manage the complex litigation and international disputes they face,” said Mr. Potts. “I look forward to collaborating with my new colleagues and further developing the firm’s presence in Miami and Latin America.”

Mr. Potts represents clients in dispute resolution proceedings, including arbitration, litigation, mediation and appellate matters. He also counsels international clients in partnership dispute claims, as well as intellectual property disputes, anti-competitive claims, construction defects, product liability claims and more.

“The addition of Roland to our Miami office exemplifies Foley’s dedication to Florida, but also to growing our footprint in Latin America,” said Leslie Smith, managing partner of the firm’s Miami office. “Not only will Roland expand the office’s litigation bench, but – as someone who speaks both English and Spanish – he will further enhance our ability to serve the Latin American community in Miami and beyond.”

“Roland is a well-known litigator whose experience will add depth to Foley’s already strong business litigation practice,” said Mike Gay, chair of the firm’s Litigation Department and the Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice Group. “His comfort and experience working with multinational clients on complex litigation and arbitration issues is impressive, and the type of experience that will be of great benefit to our clients both nationally and internationally.”

Dykema added Paulina Garga-Chmiel to its Financial Services Litigation Practice Group and Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities Special Servicer Group as senior counsel in the firm’s Chicago office.

Ms. Garga-Chmiel represents lenders in foreclosure litigation, bankruptcy matters, UCC liquidations, collection actions, breach of contract disputes and other loan restructuring issues, as well as creditors’ rights litigation and workouts, working with national, mid-size and small banks.

“We are thrilled to bring in Paulina to bolster our creditor’s rights and loan enforcement teams as well as our bankruptcy and restructuring practice,” said Mark Silverman, co-team leader of Dykema’s Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities Special Servicer Group and member of the firm’s Financial Industry Group. “With her deep knowledge and experience representing banks, middle-market lenders, and non-bank lenders in loan enforcement matters, in addition to her bar admissions in the Midwest, we are confident that Paulina will bring tremendous value to our clients nationwide.”

Ms. Garga-Chmiel was a partner at her previous firm, and in addition to her creditors’ rights practice, served as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Council.

Law Firm Innovation & Legal Industry Awards

Bernstein Shur recently launched its Media and Marketing Practice Group, led by shareholder Kevan Lee Deckelmann. Together with attorneys Matthew Saldaña, Elliot Kelly, and Chad Higgins, the group will specialize in areas such as influencer marketing, product labeling issues, social and digital media, and targeted text messaging.

The firm experienced demand in marketing and advertising, especially as the industries see more and more regulation. “As our world shifted from print and broadcast to celebrity, non-celebrity endorsements, texts, emailing, messaging and all that, our business had to evolve and move quickly,” Ms. Deckelmann said.

Brent Henry, a Member at Mintz, is slated to receive the Catalyst for Change Award from the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) on April 28, 2022. Mr. Henry will be recognized for his ongoing support of health and housing equity and legal aid programs, as well as his work in promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal field. Prior to his time at Mintz, he previously served as Vice President and General Counsel of Partners HealthCare, the largest hospital network in New England.

“Now more than ever, MLRI’s mission is to fight for policies that benefit low-income people in Massachusetts and that advance racial equity justice is important to the future of our Commonwealth and our nation,” said Georgia Katsoulomitis, MLRI’s Executive Director. “Brent Henry knows what it is like to stand in the trenches to help those in need of support and to address both economic and racial injustice. His career is defined by promoting equity and inclusion, from the legal profession to health care to housing. We are honored to celebrate his work.”

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce recently named Edward L. “Skipp” Kropp, Of Counsel at Steptoe & Johnson, a 2021 Samuel C. Schlosser Volunteer of the Year. An ongoing member of the Chamber since 2012, he served on the environmental and energy committees, assisted with Industry Day activities and helped to plan the annual Energy Management Conference.

In his four decades of legal experience, Mr. Kropp has focused his practice on environmental law and regulation, notably serving at the American Electric Power Company and the Appalachian Power Company as an environmental attorney and the environmental affairs director, respectively. He joined Steptoe & Johnson in 2013, where he presently assists clients in navigating complex regulatory changes and environmental issues.

Pro Bono and Recognition

Edward J. Loya, Jr, Member of the Firm at Epstein Becker Green, is the new Vice President of the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association (DHBA) Board of Directors. With the goal of promoting the social and professional advancement of the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) area Hispanic community, the Association provides a framework for Hispanic attorneys to meet and exchange ideas. The new appointment is effective January 1st, 2022.

Edward has been a champion of diversity within the Dallas/Fort Worth legal community,” said Jim Flynn, Managing Director and Member of the Firm at Epstein Becker Green. “In support of his efforts, EBG supported, financially and philosophically, the launch of DHBA’s Judicial Externship Program, which will provide Texas law students interested in practicing in DFW the opportunity to extern in the chambers of local federal and state judges. We are proud to have Edward serve in such a respected role and to continue our support of the DHBA.”

Crain’s Detroit Business named Megan P. Norris, CEO of Miller Canfield as one of its 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan. Updated every five years, the list includes prominent figures in every industry, including the legal profession, nonprofit work, business and state and federal government.

An experienced labor and employment attorney and former member of the Board of Managing Directors, Ms. Norris became Miller Canfield’s first woman CEO in February 2021. "I am humbled and honored to be included on this list of some of the most highly respected and influential women in Michigan," she said. "I'm very proud to lead an organization that invests in its leadership and that works to develop all of us, regardless of our backgrounds or whether we fit the traditional mold."

The South Asian Bar Association (SABA) awarded Schiff Hardin Partner Mir Ali the 2021 Pro Bono Attorney Award. Mr. Ali led a partnership with the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, providing pro bono legal assistance to veterans.

Mr. Ali is also a founding partner of Team Red, White & Blue, a national nonprofit that helps veterans transition from military to civilian life. He was also recently included in Crain’s Chicago Business’ Notable Military Veteran Executives in 2021.

Hogan Lovells filed a pair of lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Southern Division, challenging Alabama’s newly drawn political maps for state legislative and congressional districts.

The firm brought the cases, Thomas v. Merrill and Milligan v. Merrill on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries, Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and several individuals. The lawsuits allege that the newly drawn congressional districts deny Black residents equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

The lawsuits also allege that the new district maps violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The plaintiffs are asking the federal government to prevent the new map from being used.

The individuals are also being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Alabama, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the firm Wiggins, Childs, Pantazis, Fisher & Goldfarb.

Rachel Popa also contributed to this article. 

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