Board of Directors 2017-2018

Ingrid Benson-Villegas

Ingrid Benson-Villegas serves on the Board of Directors of MDFAWL and is Co-Chair of the Public Relations Committee. Ingrid practices insurance defense litigation at Walton Lantaff Schroeder & Carson, LLP. She received her B.A. in International Relations from Florida International University, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and obtained her J.D. from FIU College of Law, where she was on the Dean’s List. She is admitted to The Florida Bar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In addition to her work at MDFAWL, Ingrid was selected to be an Associate Editor on the American Bar Association’s The Young Lawyer Editorial Board. Further, in 2018, she was chosen to serve as a Florida delegate at the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Midyear Assembly, where she spoke as a proponent of the Parental Leave Rule, and which was resoundingly passed. Ingrid also serves as a judge for moot court competitions at FIU College of Law, as an attorney ad litem through Lawyers for Children America, and has enjoyed being a subscribing member of the Florida Grand Opera for over a decade.

Lauren Brunswick

Lauren Brunswick is a Director of Miami-Dade FAWL, and has served as Committee Chair of the Young Lawyers Committee, Mentoring Committee and Character and Fitness Committee. Lauren is a Corporate Counsel for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®(ASPCA®). Before joining the ASPCA, she practiced law with firms in Boston and Miami. She graduated from Brown University and received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude, where she was the Senior Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and competing in and coaching sports.

Dana Chaaban

Dana is a member of the MDFAWL Board of Directors and previously co-chaired MDFAWL’s Diversity Committee. Dana is a litigation associate at Shutts & Bowen LLP where she is a member of the Construction Litigation and Insurance Practice Groups. Dana focuses her practice on commercial, construction and insurance litigation. She represents developers, contractors, material suppliers, design professionals and carriers in disputes involving construction defect claims, delay claims, construction lien and insurance issues, and contract disputes. Prior to joining Shutts, Dana focused her practice on premises and general liability, commercial, construction and complex litigation, insurance coverage, transactional and carrier representation. Dana graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University College of Law. While in law school, she served as a Judicial Extern for the former Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis of the Florida Supreme Court and the Honorable Justice Barbara Lagoa of Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. She also interned for the Office of the Broward County Attorney, where she assisted in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport construction expansion. Dana is also an adjunct professor at Florida International University’s College of Law, where she teaches upper-level legal writing courses.

Allison Jade Leonard

Allison is a member of the MDFAWL Board of Directors and co-chairs MDFAWL’s Publications Quality. Allison is a litigation associate at Damian & Valori, LLP where she practices complex business litigation, receivership, bankruptcy and securities litigation. Allison also represents local businesses in Fair Labor Standards Act wage and hour claims. She is licensed to practice in Florida and is admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In 2016, Allison was appointed to the Eleventh Circuit Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee of The Florida Bar. Allison is also an active member of the community and currently serves on the Executive Committee of Olympia Center, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to managing and maintaining the Olympia Theater, downtown Miami’s oldest historic performing arts center. She received her law degree from Florida International University College of Law where she served as Vice President of the Student Bar Association.

Diana C. Mendez

Diana C. Mendez serves on MDFAWL’s Board of Directors, and co-chairs the Website Committee. Diana is a senior associate attorney at Llorente and Heckler, P.A. where she represents clients through all phases of the government procurement process. In addition to her position at Llorente and Heckler, P.A., Diana is also a Director at LSN Partners, LLC, a Miami-based, full-service strategic business development and consulting firm. Diana received a B.A. in Economics and International Relations, magna cum laude, in 2006 from Florida International University. In 2010, she received a JD, cum laude, from the American University, Washington College of Law, and an MA in International Affairs from American University’s School of International Service. She is also a 2017 Miami fellow of the New Leaders Council, a national non-profit, non-partisan organization that prepares and connects the next generation of civic leaders.

Stephanie Moot

Stephanie Moot is a member of the Board of Directors of MDFAWL. Stephanie focuses her practice on advising clients regarding Title III Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) public accommodations. She has extensive experience defending class action and individual lawsuits for clients across various industries, such as food, retail, hospitality, healthcare, and entertainment. Stephanie has handled a broad spectrum of disability discrimination matters under Title III and similar state laws involving architectural and operational barriers to access. Stephanie also counsels clients on the requirements of the ADA and state accessibility laws.

Stephanie works with clients to develop effective strategies for ADA compliance that address design, operational, and industry-specific issues. She also guides clients on creating compliance policies and personnel training programs. With her knowledge and experience, she advises clients on hot-button ADA issues such as website accessibility, point of sale devices, service animals, auxiliary aids and services, pool and spa lifts, ATMs, and recently-enacted design standards.

Cristina Pérez Soto

Cristina Pérez Soto practices in all areas of cross-border investigations and disputes before United States federal and state courts, international arbitration institutions, and other tribunals.

She regularly represents companies and individuals in U.S. government investigations concerning a wide range of allegations including securities, tax, commodities, and futures fraud; insider trading; money laundering; commercial bribery; corruption; economic espionage; antitrust violations; and Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA) violations. Cristina served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division of the Southern District of Florida for four years. During this time she focused on major fraud cases, including securities, investment, mortgage, tax, and other large-scale fraud matters, and tried more than 15 jury cases to verdict.

Cristina also has significant experience in international litigation and arbitration, including enforcement proceedings, representing clients in the United States and abroad. A native Spanish speaker, Cristina has represented clients across Latin America, including Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. She has experience handling international arbitration matters before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution of the American Arbitration Association, including matters that have been conducted entirely in Spanish.

Cristina is on the Board of Directors of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. She speaks regularly on issues regarding investigations and global disputes, with a particular focus on Latin America.

Julissa Rodriguez

Julie is a Director of MDFAWL and Co-Chair of MDFAWL’s Corporate Counsel Liaison Committee. She practices at Greenberg Traurig, P.A., where she is a shareholder, the Chair of the Firm’s Miami Appellate Department and a member of the Firm’s National Appellate Practice. Julie, who is Board Certified in Appellate Practice by The Florida Bar, focuses her practice on appellate litigation and trial support, representing clients in both state and federal courts in a variety of areas of the law, including products liability, medical malpractice, employment litigation, and contract disputes.

Jennifer V. Ruiz

Jennifer V. Ruiz has been a member of the Board of Directors of MDFAWL since 2016. In addition, Jennifer is currently co-chair of the Federal and State Court Liaison Committee. Jennifer is a partner with the law firm of Cole, Scott, & Kissane P.A. where she is a civil litigator, practicing in state and federal courts, at both trial and appellate levels. Jennifer dedicates a significant amount of time to community service as a member of numerous judicially-appointed committees; she currently serves on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Professionalism Panel, as well as the Hispanic Heritage Planning Committee for the Southern District of Florida. She also serves on the Florida Bar’s committee on Judicial Nominating Procedures. Jennifer has also served as a Dade Legal Aid Leader since 2014, and was appointed to multiple Federal Magistrate Judge Merit Selection and Reappointment Panels for the Southern District of Florida from 2011 through 2014. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from the Florida State University, cum laude, and her J.D. from Nova Southeastern University, where she served as an Articles Editor for the Nova Law Review.

Jody Shulman

Jody Shulman serves as a Director of MDFAWL and Chair of the Judicial Reception Planning and Sponsorship Committees. She has been a member of The Massachusetts Bar for 27 years, and during 17 of those years she was a litigator specializing in divorce, paternity, and family law matters. Jody also serves on the Board of B’nai B’rith Justice Unit 5207, the Board of Legal Services of Greater Miami, and on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee. Jody is currently employed with U.S. Legal Support where she focuses on providing court reporting, record retrieval, transcription/translation, trial presentation and e-discovery services to the legal community. She specializes in finding solutions for complex, class action and multi-district litigation cases. Lastly, Jody is a co-founder of “Make a Difference Miami,” which is committed to raising monies for both Dade Legal Aid and Legal Services of Greater Miami.

Schuyler Smith

Schuyler is a partner at Hamilton Miller & Birthisel and practices in Miami and the U.S. Virgin Islands offices. She concentrates her practice on handling complex commercial and business litigation matters, as well as, personal injury, premises liability, and product liability lawsuits. She represents major retailers, hotels, product manufacturers, Fortune 500 companies, insurers, cruise lines, and transportation companies, in state and federal courts throughout Florida and the United States Virgin Islands.

Schuyler has extensive courtroom and trial experience having begun her legal career as a trial attorney for the State of Florida Department of Children and Families and subsequently at a large defense firm where she litigated cases involving business torts, employment disputes, and professional liability claims with a particular emphasis on the defense of lawyers, accountants, and insurance brokers.

Schuyler was born and raised in Jamaica. She obtained her Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law and her Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.