MDFAWL had a great FALL and continued its momentum through the Winter! Check out what we've been up to.
WINTER EDITION 2017, Vol. 36, Issue 3


By: Rebecca Ocariz
On January 27, 2017, The Florida Bar's Special Committee on Parental Leave in Court Actions issued its Final Report and Recommendation of the Committee and proposed a procedural rule that would require a motion for continuance to be granted on the grounds of parental leave of the lead attorney unless substantial prejudice to the opposing party is shown. Click here to read the Final Report and Recommendation of the Committee.
At its February 6, 2017 Board Meeting, MDFAWL unanimously passed a Resolution indicating that it is in favor of the proposed rule and encouraging The Florida Bar Board of Governors to adopt the rule at its earliest opportunity. Click here to read the Resolution.
The Florida Bar Board of Governors will vote on the proposed rule at their May meeting. Notably, both candidates for Florida Bar President have indicated their support for the proposed rule. Candidate Lanse Scriven stated, "I concur with the Committee's sentiment that our profession must be committed to parental leave and the importance of allowing attorneys to be able to balance work and family. For that reason, I fully support the proposed parental leave rule." Similarly, Candidate Michelle Suskauer advised, "I am pleased that the Joint Task Force of the Rules of Judicial Administration and Diversity and Inclusion Committee was able to draft a proposed Rule that will come before the Board of Governors for a vote.  Attorneys should not have to choose between their careers and having children, and I support the work that the Joint Task Force has done and the recommendation they have submitted to the Board of Governors."
MDFAWL echoes the candidates' positions and encourages its members to contact the 11th Circuit Board of Governors to urge them to vote in favor of this proposed rule.  The 11th Circuit Board of Governors and their contact information is below:

Roland Sanchez-Medina, Jr. (11-01)
Sanchez-Medina, Gonzalez, Quesada, Lage, Crespo, Gomez, Machado & Preira, LLP
201 Alhambra Cir., Ste. 1205
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Phone: (305) 377-1000
Fax: 1(855) 327-0391
Dori Foster-Morales (11-02)
Foster-Morales Sockel-Stone, LLC
Museum Tower - PH II / Ste. 2950
150 W. Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130
Phone: (305) 577-0090
Fax: (305) 577-4551
Leslie J. Lott (11-03) 
Lott & Fischer, PL
255 Aragon Ave., 3rd Fl.
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Phone: (305) 448-7089
Fax: (305) 446-6191
Deborah B. Baker-Egozi (11-04)
Greenspoon Marder, P.A.
Brickell World Plaza
600 Brickell Ave., Ste. 3600
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: (305) 789-2770
Fax: (305) 537-3900
Dennis G. Kainen (11-05)
Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL
1401 Brickell Ave., Ste. 800
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: (305) 374-5544
Fax: (305) 358-8565
Steven W. Davis (11-06)
Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP
100 S.E. 2nd St., Ste. 2800
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: (305) 357-8424
Fax: (305) 539-1307

John H. Hickey (11-07)
Hickey Law Firm, P.A.
1401 Brickell Ave., Ste. 510
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: (305) 371-8000
Fax: (305) 371-3542



By: Jody Shulman


What a fantastic luncheon we all had at this years' 34th Annual Judicial Reception. Once again, the Four Seasons Hotel set up to be a spectacular venue. Our guest list of 350 included our dedicated judiciary, award recipients, prominent attorneys, dignitaries, presidents of voluntary bar associations and community leaders. This year, several changes were made to the program to inspire a festive holiday spirit with plenty of time to rejoice with friends and colleagues.
MDFAWL is known for its substantive programming, and once again, it delivered with four powerful speeches. MDFAWL's President, Rebecca Ocariz, has made incredible inroads in the organization's mission to encourage the professional advancement of women lawyers. She highlighted the "Good Guys" pledge and recognized those firms and managing male partners who were committed to our mission to obtain gender equality. Our Julie Kay Amicus Award Recipient, Craig Leen, gave a powerful speech on his quest to enact the Parental Leave Rule. Change never comes easy, but with his determination and passion, we know history is in the making. The prestigious Theodore Klein award was presented to the Honorable Scott Bernstein for his instrumental efforts in opening lactation rooms in four of our courthouses. This was an important step to bridge the gender equality gap as it helps women to step right back into their career-and the courtroom-after having a child. Our last speaker was MDFAWL's President-Elect, Katie Phang, who captured the audience with her closing remarks. Katie will no doubt continue the great strides and accomplishments that our organization has made over the past years.
Finally, a special thanks to our Title Sponsor, Wargo French, our Grand Benefactors, Arnstein & Lehr, DLD Lawyers, Greenberg Traurig, Greenspoon Marder, Jams, Kozyak Tropin Throckmorton, Shubin & Bass, U.S. Legal Support, Wicker Smith, and to all our other sponsors; without you, none of this would be possible.


By: Rebecca Ocariz
MDFAWL is committed to addressing the issue of gender equality in the profession. Research has repeatedly shown that the key to achieving gender parity is to engage men in the advancement of women lawyers and in the quest for gender equality.   This year, MDFAWL embarked on the "GOOD Guy Initiative."  "GOOD" stands for "Guys Overcoming Obstacles to Diversity." 
Dozens of male managing partners/law firm leaders signed a Pledge where they vowed to be an agent for measurable change and complete three of the seven tasks set forth in the GOOD Guys Monday Morning To-Do List. 
MDFAWL recognizes these GOOD Guys as champions for women in the legal profession:
Ray Abadin - Sedgwick LLP

Gerald Kornreich - Kornreich & Associates 
Ben Alvarez - Alvarez, Carbonell, Cooke, Feltman & Da Silva, P.L.

John Kozyak - Kozyak Tropin Throckmorton, LLP 
Nelson Bellido - ROIG Lawyers

Andrew Kruppa - Squire Patton Boggs 
Steven Brodie - Carlton Fields

Josh Lerner - Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell 
Raoul Cantero - White & Case LLP

John Matthews - Wargo French 
Nicholas Christin - Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.

Brad McCormick - Kubicki Draper 
Richard Cole - Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.  Patrick Montoya - Colson Hicks Eidson 
Jaret Davis - Greenberg Traurig, P.A.

Michael Olin - Michael S. Olin, P.A. 
Juan Enjamio - Hunton
& Williams LLP 
Bert Ocariz - Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP 
Juan Farach - Shubin & Bass P.A.

Ryan O'Quinn - DLA Piper LLP 
Pedro Forment - Jackson Lewis P.C. Jeffrey Schneider - Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider + Grossman LLP 
Tomas Gamba - Gamba, Lombana & Herrera

Paul Singerman - Berger Singerman LLP 
Solomon Genet - Meland Russin & Budwick, P.A.

Luis Suarez - Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP 
Bill Geraghty - Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

Peter Valori - Damian & Valori, LLP 
Jerry Hamilton - Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP

Joseph Wargo - Wargo French 
Michael Higer - Berger Singerman LLP

Steven Weinstein - K&L Gates LLP 
William Hill - Gunster

Steve Zelkowitz - GrayRobinson, P.A. 
Paul Juster - Wargo French  
MDFAWL also recognizes these GOOD Guy Firms:

GOOD Guy firms are those firms where: 1) 50 percent of the male partners at the firm have signed the pledge; or 2) the pledge has been signed on behalf of the firm by someone with authority to bind the firm. 
Want to be a GOOD Guy? Commit to completing three items in the Monday Morning To-Do List and sign the Pledge! With you we can overcome gender bias in the legal profession!
The MDFAWL membership drive for 2017-2018 (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018) is now underway.  To renew your current membership or to become a valuable new member of MDFAWL, please visit and click the appropriate button to join or renew (please select the Miami-Dade Chapter).  Or, you can download our printable form, available here, and mail it with a check or credit card information to the address on the form.
MDFAWL gives members year-round access to many enlightening and informative programs, along with providing an opportunity to network and socialize with fellow members and esteemed practitioners in the legal community.  We will have many members-only events in the forthcoming year, including our "table-for-eight" series with federal and state court judges and in-house counsel.  We are excited to continue to bring you informative and meaningful programs and events.  Thank you for your support and participation!

Rebecca Ocariz, President

Katie S. Phang, President-Elect

Lara Bueso Bach, Secretary

Elisa D'Amico, Treasurer

Ardith Bronson, Newsletter Editor


Lauren Brunswick
Kelly Peņa
Stephanie Casey
Jennifer Ruiz
Kristin Drecktrah Paz
Jody Shulman
Freddi Mack
Evelyn Suero
Diana C. Mendez
Alicia Welch
Stephanie Moot
Ileana Cruz, Immediate Past President

Judge Robert Luck


Michelle Suskauer


 Alice K. Sum 

 Erica Rutner and Lara Bueso Bach 
Lara Bueso Bach and Erica Rutner co-wrote an article in the Daily Business Review entitled, "The Equivocal Effects of The Florida Supreme Court's Unequivocal Rejection of Daubert." The article can be viewed here.  Lara and Erica discuss the implications of the Court's refusal to adopt the Daubert standard into the Florida Evidence Code and align Florida's expert admissibility standards with those of the majority of states and federal courts.

Judge Robert Luck was appointed by Governor Rick Scott on February 2, 2017, to the Third District Court of Appeal.  Immediately preceding his appointment to the Court of Appeal, Judge Luck served as a Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit since 2013, and previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney and Deputy Chief at the United States Attorney's Office Southern District of Florida.  He received both his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Florida. The press release of Judge Luck's appointment can be viewed here.
Alice K. Sum and Stephanie M. Chaissan, shareholders at Fowler White Burnett, P.A., obtained a final judgment in favor of Shelborne Ocean Beach Hotel Condominium Association, Inc. and four of its current and former directors.  The final judgment, which dismissed Plaintiffs' $10 million lawsuit, was entered January 20, 2017, in the Complex Business Litigation Division of Miami-Dade Circuit Court.  The lawsuit, brought by 40 unit owners against the condominium association, directors, and other defendants, alleged various corporate governance and conspiracy claims arising out of two construction projects at the Shelborne Ocean Beach Hotel Condominium between 2010 and 2014.  Articles in the Daily Business Review and The Real Deal regarding the victory can be found here and here.
Michelle Suskauer, managing partner of Suskauer Feuer LLC, a boutique criminal defense firm, is running for President-Elect of The Florida Bar. She has been serving on The Florida Bar Board of Governors for six years. She is a past president of the Palm Beach County Bar Association, Florida Association for Women Lawyers, Palm Beach County Chapter and is the President of the Board of Directors of The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. Michelle is a 25-year member of FAWL, initiated the Breakfast and Books mentoring program and Adopt-a-Case pro bono program, and has been awarded the Justice Barbara Pariente Award and Leader in the Law from FAWL. Michelle is married to her husband Scott, a circuit court judge in Palm Beach County and has two daughters, Talia, 20 and Becca, 18. Voting runs March 1-21, 2017.

By: Liana Kozlowski
Throughout December, MDFAWL's Pro Bono Committee partnered with Americans for Immigrant Justice to host a toy drive and a holiday party for close to 200 children who spent the holidays in immigration shelters, separated from their families.
"These kids have gone through a lot to get here and are many times fleeing extreme poverty or extreme violence. This holiday party is one of the few times they get to feel normal and are distracted from the fact that they are spending the holiday without family members," said Mich Gonzalez, a senior attorney with AI Justice's Children's Legal Program.
Thanks to the sponsorship of MDFAWL and the financial contributions collected during MDFAWL's annual judicial reception, as well as our members' participation in the online toy drive, AI Justice reported that this was one of their most successful holiday parties.
The Pro Bono Committee looks forward to continuing to collaborate with AI Justice's Children's Legal Program on future initiatives. 
By: Deborah Baker-Egozi

In December 2016, I attended a calendar call where an attorney moved ore tenus to continue trial.  He had tickets to see the Broadway play, Hamilton. While there was no opposition to the continuance, the judge did not ask for the adverse party's opinion, and the judge agreed the attorney would be excused from trial that week.  A theater fan myself, I understand the value of Hamilton tickets and applaud judges who respect the personal lives of attorneys. I do not, however, understand why parents are routinely denied the same relief when they seek brief continuances of trial to birth or adopt children. 
The Florida Bar has spent tens of thousands of dollars studying and forming committees to discuss the issue of gender inequality in our profession. The Bar professes to seek the eradication of gender inequality, funding the Leadership Academy and flying in guest speakers from afar. Yet, when presented with a concrete solution, like passage of the Parental Leave Rule to ensure that women do not lose out on trial opportunities, controversy is rampant. When Florida Bar certification as a trial attorney requires a minimum number of trials in a finite period of time, foregoing one trial during parental leave can be fatal to the application. When a woman is forced to try a case in a wheelchair post c-section because a continuance was denied, and just recently, a forensic expert was required to testify in court during her maternity leave in a rape case, because the trial court would not allow a brief continuance, I submit that we, as a profession, have a problem.
While the Florida Bar's Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Cuban American Bar Association, the Dade County Bar Association and MDFAWL have unanimously passed resolutions supporting a Rule of Judicial Administration requiring judges to grant parental leave unless substantial prejudice to the other side is demonstrated, the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee voted to oppose such a rule, twice.  The proposed Rule appeared to be dead in the water, but it was revived due to the activism of members of the Bar and the involvement of the press.
The Florida Bar Board of Governor's Executive Committee agreed to form a joint task force between the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Rules of Judicial Administration.  Ultimately, the task force approved for the Board of Governors' consideration the following proposed rule:    
Deborah Baker-Egozi, Past President of MDFAWL and Member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors  
A motion for continuance based on parental leave of the lead attorney in the case shall be granted if made within a reasonable time after learning the basis of the continuance unless substantial prejudice to the opposing party is shown. Three months shall be the presumptive length of a continuance granted for parental leave absent good cause for a longer time. If the court denies the requested continuance, the court shall state on the record the specific grounds for the denial.
If the motion for continuance is challenged by an opposing party proffering a basis for a claim of substantial prejudice, the attorney seeking the continuance shall have the burden of demonstrating the lack of substantial prejudice to the opposing party.
If approved by the Board of Governors, the proposed Rule will be submitted to the Florida Supreme Court. Many lawyers have no idea what the Board of Governors does, but this proposed Rule lies in their hands and you elect us. It is the President of The Florida Bar who appoints members to The Florida Bar's committees, including the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee. We on the Board of Governors answer to you, as do all of your Bar leaders, so let your voice be heard and demand accountability from your leaders. MDFAWL will stand with you.

By: Liana Kozlowski
Pictured volunteers (from left to right):Gustavo Ramirez, Yvette Ayala, Ardith Bronson, Liana Kozlowski, and Lauren Brunswick.
On Saturday, December 3, members of MDFAWL joined about 100 other volunteers for a day of service with Feeding South Florida, the arm of Feeding America that services Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties.
At the organization's warehouse in Pembroke Park, the volunteers inspected, sorted, and packed 21,742 pounds of food, which provided more than 18,000 meals to food-insecure South Floridians - primarily children, the working poor, older adults, veterans, the physically and mentally disabled, and the homeless.
According to its research series, Map the Meal Gap - a collaboration among Feeding America, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation and The Nielsen Company - more than 784,000 South Floridians do not know where their next meal will come from. That number includes 264,280 children (i.e., 21.5% of the children in South Florida). Through its partnership with other non-profit agencies, including food pantries, senior centers, homeless shelters, and day care centers, Feeding South Florida estimates that it rescues 44 million pounds of food per year in an effort to provide ongoing services to these South Floridians.
If you are interested in volunteering with Feeding South Florida, the organization welcomes volunteers to sign up for any of its ten shifts that take place every week. More information is available here
By: Kelly Pena

On February 19, 2017, MDFAWL hosted its Third Annual Foster Youth Day in partnership with Lawyers for Children America (LFCA). Each year, MDFAWL members have come out to volunteer and serve hundreds of foster children at Tropical Park. MDFAWL had a record number of participants this year including individual foster families, group homes, and members of the legal community. This year, the event featured bounce houses, face painting, balloon art, sports, arts and crafts, cotton candy, music, and an ice cream cart with homemade ice cream. The event sold out with a record number of over 300 registrants.
Foster Youth Day also serves to raise awareness among the legal community about the needs of foster youth. In the last year, MDFAWL has hosted a series of CLE trainings in partnership with LFCA, specifically focused on providing pro bono representation of young women and girls in foster care. Stay tuned for additional trainings with MDFAWL in the next few months!
MDFAWL gives special thanks to its caterer, Tropical Palate, along with its generous sponsors, Falk, Waas, Hernandez, Cortina, Solomon & Bonner, P.A., Shubin & Bass, P.A., and the Children's Trust. 
Pictured volunteers (from left to right): Lauren Brunswick, Carolina Pinero, Amber Kornreich, Sarah Valdes, Kelly Pena, Paula Velazquez, and Victor Pulido 

By: Julissa Rodriguez
Last month, a group of MDFAWL members gathered at PB Station in Downtown Miami to have lunch with Judge Bronwyn C. Miller.  Judge Miller began her legal career in 1997 as an assistant state attorney in the Miami State Attorney's Office.  She has served our community as a judge since 2005, when she became a judge on the Miami-Dade County Court.  In 2010, she was appointed to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.  Judge Miller drew a large crowd to this event, during which she fielded questions about how to become a judge and best practices when appearing before the court.  Our main takeaways from this great lunch:   
  • To become a judge, start building your network early.  Become involved in the community that you wish to serve.  And find a mentor who will support and guide you. 
  • Tips when appearing in court:  Avoid engaging in unprofessional conduct.  For example, attorneys should not talk over each other.  Cite-check the authorities you rely on to make your arguments.  If you are running late to court, call ahead to let the court know, as soon as possible.  Judge Miller reads everything submitted to her, so you do not need to reiterate everything that is in your written submissions.  Instead, treat a hearing like an oral argument - be prepared to answer her questions.  And when submitting proposed orders, prepare detailed orders with the best arguments you have. 
Our sincere thanks to Judge Miller for spending time with MDFAWL members.  We look forward to seeing her at future events.


By: Rebecca Ocariz 
On February 4, 2017, the National Conference of Women Bar Associations (NCWBA) and MDFAWL held a networking and awards breakfast.   The NCWBA created the GOOD Guys program designed to break the impasse in women's advancement by engaging men. The program was launched at the NCWBA's mid-year meeting in February 2016 and the NCWBA created a toolkit so that GOOD Guys events can be developed by other organizations.
At the breakfast, three Florida attorneys were recognized for their contributions in the quest for gender parity in the legal profession. John Kozyak received the Practitioner MVP award for his long standing commitment to advancing the position of women in law and support of women's issues. John is a critical member of the MDFAWL GOOD Guys Committee and the MDFAWL GOOD Guys program could not have gotten off the ground without him.
Judge Scott Bernstein was awarded the Judiciary MVP award. Judge Bernstein was instrumental in opening lactation rooms in the Dade County (Civil), Lawson E. Thomas (Family), Richard E. Gerstein (Criminal) and Miami-Dade County Children's Courthouses. The lactations rooms help women step right back in to their career - and the courtroom - after having a child.
Finally, Gordon Glover received the Rookie of the Year award. Gordon Glover established The Florida Bar's Young Lawyer Division Commission on Women. This Commission conducted a survey of Florida's young women attorneys and found that 43 percent of respondents reported experiencing bias or discrimination from judges, clients, employers, or opposing counsel.  Gordon worked to promote the survey results and then helped establish programming to address issues raised by the survey results, including the Presidential Showcase programming at The Florida Bar's Annual Convention.   
Congratulations to these GOOD Guys!
MDFAWL is a voluntary bar association dedicated to actively promoting the advancement of women in the legal profession, expanding the leadership role of its members in the community at large, and promoting women's rights.
Ardith Bronson, Newsletter Editor | Miami-Dade FAWL