January 2015 Issue, Volume VI
By: Deborah B. Baker

On October 14, 2014, Miami-Dade FAWL, along with co-sponsors Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, the Women's Chamber of Commerce of Miami-Dade County, and Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., hosted a farewell party for Judge Sandy Karlan.  Judge Karlan was appointed to the Miami-Dade circuit bench in 1995 by then-Governor Lawton Chiles.  Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Karlan worked in private practice for 17 years.  She was the administrative judge of the family division and was universally admired and respected. Watching Judge Karlan step down from the bench is bittersweet.  Nearly 200 people came to her celebration, and proceeds were raised to fund the Judge Sandy Karlan Law Student Fellowship at Legal Services of Greater Miami.


Judge Karlan was a pioneer for women's and children's rights, and she advocated for the establishment of the Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children.  During her three-year term as the chair of the Commission, she conducted a thorough review of the court system and prepared overhaul recommendations, many of which were implemented.  She also served on the Florida Supreme Court's Family Court Steering Committee, which adopted the Committee's recommendations for a model family court in 2001.


Judge Karlan helped form Miami-Dade FAWL in 1980, at a time when women were not allowed to join many private clubs, including the Miami City Club.  She famously starting holding Miami-Dade FAWL board meetings at the Miami City Club when it opened its doors to women.  Judge Karlan's devotion to women's issues paved the way for the women of today.  She was a trailblazer when there were very few women judges and few women on judicial nominating commissions.  In 1980, women in leadership positions at The Florida Bar and within voluntary bar associations were few and far between. 


Judge Karlan was President of Miami-Dade FAWL in 1984.  She was a vocal advocate when faced with instances of discrimination against women.  She was always diplomatic, yet she never hesitated to take a risk to advance the cause of women in the legal profession.  Judge Karlan was an advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment and was active with the National Organization for Women's local chapter.   Judge Karlan was awarded Miami-Dade FAWL's highest honor, the Mattie Belle Davis Award, in 2003.  Miami-Dade FAWL congratulates Judge Karlan on her esteemed career.

Judge Karlan and 
Deborah B. Baker
2014-2015 Officers


Deborah B. Baker



Ileana Cruz



Rebecca Ocariz



Katie S. Phang


Newsletter Editor

Lara Bueso Bach


Lauren Brunswick

Sherril Colombo

Elisa D'Amico

Madelin D'Arce

Brendalyn Edwards

Courtney Engelke

Mallory Gold

Emilie Kennedy

Linda Leali

Jody Shulman

Alicia Welch

Talia Zucker


Committee Chairs

Ardith Bronson

Stephanie Casey

Kristen Corpion

Kristin Drecktrah

Lindsay Haber

Lisa Lehner

Kate Maxwell

Stephanie Moot

Kelly Pena

Joyce Rodriguez

Deborah Ross-Ocariz

Trisha Widowfield

By: Deborah B. Baker
A long time member of Miami-Dade FAWL, Elizabeth "Liz" Baker will receive The Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.  The Florida Bar will recognize 21 lawyers for their work on behalf of poor and indigent clients on January 29, 2015 at a ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.  Established in 1981, The Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Awards are intended to encourage lawyers to volunteer free legal services to the poor by recognizing those who make public service commitments and to raise public awareness of the substantial volunteer services provided by Florida lawyers to those who cannot afford legal fees. Florida Bar President Gregory W. Coleman will present the 2015 awards.

Helping others and seeing her good work recognized is nothing new for Ms. Baker, who has been a family law attorney for more than 40 years. In 2006, she received the Mattie Belle Davis Award from the Miami-Dade FAWL, in honor of her work with the Safespace Foundation, which she founded in 1978 to provide support and services for women and children at domestic violence shelters. In 2007, she received the James H. Pearson Guardian Ad Litem Award for her pro bono work with children in difficult custody cases. In 2008, she received the Legal Services of Greater Miami Distinguished Service Award for her volunteer legal assistance to the Monroe County office in securing the reversal of a trial court decision to take custody of a child away from an indigent mother. With 4,000 hours of pro bono work, Baker, a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law and an attorney at Hinshaw & Culbertson in Miami, certainly understands public service. In what then-Judge Amy Steele Donner of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit called the worst custody case that had come before her, Baker proposed a time-sharing order so that each parent safely visited with the child, facilitated an improvement in the child's school environment by limiting the parents' access and obtained a follow-up psychological evaluation that helped the court enter appropriate orders.   Miami-Dade FAWL congratulates Ms. Baker for this well-deserved honor.
By: Deborah B. Baker

Miami-Dade FAWL Member John W. Kozyak, a founding partner of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton in Miami, is the recipient of the 2015 Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award, the highest statewide pro bono award. The award will be presented by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga on January 29, 2015 at a ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.

The award commemorates the late Miami lawyer Tobias Simon, who was well known as a tireless civil rights attorney, a crusader for prison reform and an appellate authority. The award is intended to encourage and recognize extraordinary contributions by Florida lawyers in making legal services available to people who otherwise could not afford them, and to focus public awareness on the substantial voluntary services rendered by Florida lawyers.


Kozyak is currently co-chair of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton's bankruptcy practice. A 1975 graduate of Washington University School of Law, Kozyak is consistently rated as one of Florida's top bankruptcy attorneys. "Best Lawyers in America" has named him as one of its "Bet-the-Company" litigators in Florida for the past six years.


As the recipient of the 2015 Tobias Simon Award, Kozyak honors the legacy of Simon. 

By: Ileana Cruz

In an exciting first step toward fostering business development opportunities for Miami-Dade FAWL members, the Corporate Counsel Committee launched its first in a series of planned Meet & Greets with in-house counsel. On January 15, 2015, in-house counsel from a number of local businesses mingled with Miami-Dade FAWL's members in a relaxed and casual atmosphere at Morton's Steakhouse on Brickell. To facilitate conversation among guests, the Committee capped the guest list to make it more intimate. RSVPs poured in and the event reached capacity in record time. In-house counsel guests included Cristina M. Arroya of Doral Bank, Lisa Bobotas of Sabadell Bank and Kenneth Oh of TracFone. Miami-Dade FAWL member guests included retired Judge Norman Gerstein, Sandra Ferrer and Terri K. Echarte of Gibraltar Private Bank.


The Corporate Counsel Committee has planned a number of social events, all designed to continue creating opportunities for MDFAWL's members to foster relationships with South Florida's business community. For example, the Committee has a "Table for 8" lunch scheduled for Wednesday, February 11, with Arnaldo Perez, Esq., General Counsel of Carnival Corporation.  The Committee's long term plan includes not only hosting "Table for 8" style events, but also providing in-house counsel with CLE programming and other opportunities. This kickoff Meet & Greet was hosted by MDFAWL and organized by Committee member Sheila Oretsky, who practices commercial litigation with the law firm of Legon Fodiman, P.A.


Sign up today for the Committee's February 11 "Table for 8" before space runs out. Visit www.mdfawl.org for more information.


Sheila Oretsky, Ileana Cruz, Cristina Arroya
and Cheryl Sloane 

By: Rebecca Ocariz
Cynthia Duval, President of Gwen S.
Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association and Deborah B. Baker, President of
Miami-Dade FAWL
On Thursday, January 8, 2015, Miami-Dade FAWL and Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association (GSCBWLA) hosted a happy hour at Chop House 305 with more than fifty people in attendance.  Members of both organizations met for the first time, renewed acquaintances and networked.   In order the facilitate introductions, the two voluntary bar associations had an ice-breaker activity where attendees were given a list of trivia questions such as "Which GSCBWLA member has 3 children born on the same day and they are not triplets?" and "Which Miami-Dade FAWL member has completed an Ironman competition?"  In order to learn the answers, attendees had to put themselves out there and ask people they had never met if they knew the answers to any of the questions.  The attendee who answered the most questions correctly won a bottle of champagne.  As a result, many new introductions were made.  Given the similarities of the missions of Miami-Dade FAWL and GSCBWLA, attendees found it easy to mingle and make conversation.   Miami-Dade FAWL is looking forward to making this an annual event!


By: Lauren Brunswick
Lauren Brunswick and Evelyn Suero along with Florida
 International University College of Law student leaders
On January 17, 2015, Lauren Brunswick and Evelyn Suero attended the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division's Affiliate Outreach Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida on behalf of Miami Dade FAWL's newly formed Young Lawyers Committee.  At the conference, Lauren and Evelyn pitched a proposal for a grant for the Young Lawyers Lunch and Dinner Mentorship Program, which the Young Lawyers Committee will be rolling out this spring.  Lauren and Evelyn also had the opportunity to meet leaders of other young lawyers and law student organizations, and they introduced them to Miami-Dade FAWL and the Young Lawyers Committee.  Grant winners will be announced within the coming weeks.
By: Rebecca Ocariz
Judge Donald Cannava

On January 15, 2015, Miami-Dade FAWL hosted a dinner with County Court Judge Donald "DJ" Cannava Jr., along with several Miami-Dade FAWL members, at Via Verdi in Miami's Upper Eastside.  At the dinner, Judge Cannava recounted his non-traditional journey to the bench.  He started his legal career as a prosecutor for the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney.  He then briefly left the practice of law to work as an agent for United Talent Agency in California and later returned to South Florida, where he served as general counsel for two local companies.  He then went on to serve as the statewide deputy director of Children's Legal Services within the Florida Department of Children and Families and as the regional director for Florida's southern and southeast regions.  In 2011, Judge Cannava was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to the Miami-Dade County Court bench and was assigned to the Domestic Violence division.  


At the event, Judge Cannava explained the JNC appointment process, described the types of cases that are heard in the Domestic Violence division and, during the meal, he even handled an emergency ex parte injunction.  Judge Cannava was recently reassigned to the Miami Beach Court facility where he will now hear civil matters.

Colombo Selected as Super Lawyer
Miami-Dade FAWL Past President Sherril Colombo of Littler Mendelson was selected as a Super Lawyer in Employment & Labor Law. Sherril is a graduate of Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center.  She counsels clients in ERISA litigation matters and employment-related claims. 
Phang Joins Berger Singerman as Partner
Miami-Dade FAWL Treasurer Katie Phang joined Berger Singerman LLP as a partner and a member of the Dispute Resolution Team. Prior to joining Berger Singerman, Phang was a founding partner with Arrastia, Capote & Phang, LLP. Previously, she held positions at both the Miami-Dade County and Broward County State Attorney's offices, where she rose to the level of homicide prosecutor and Division Chief.  

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