Chicago-Kent Alumni Magazine: Spring 2021

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Defending the Environment South Side Story Mapping Today’s Environmental Regulatory Landscape Environmental Law in the Fast Lane


A Letter From Dean Anita K. Krug

Dear Alumni, Once again, I begin with a note to you about the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, it’s about reclaiming a measure of normalcy and celebrating our campus community’s resilience. This is not only because in-person classes will likely resume this year, but also because—as vaccination numbers increase and a light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel has come into view—it is evident that Chicago-Kent College of Law will emerge stronger and more innovative than it was before. Our faculty, staff—and, perhaps most importantly, our students—stepped up to address the pandemic in truly inspiring ways. Many worked pro-bono to help the city’s neediest overcome COVID-19-related legal challenges. Our virtual courses and programs continue unabated. And even when denied a forum for displaying their in-person courtroom skills, our trial advocacy and moot court teams truly excelled this year, earning numerous national awards, placements, and titles. The pool of applicants seeking to attend Chicago-Kent is as large and accomplished as it ever has been, attracted to the strength of our programs and our faculty. Which brings me to the topic of this magazine, a legal area of increasing interest and importance, and one as to which Chicago-Kent has stood apart from other law schools: environmental law. We start by exploring how Chicago-Kent’s Environmental and Energy Law Clinic has long been at the forefront of the environmental justice movement, working to achieve equity in some of Chicago’s most disenfranchised communities. Many alumni credit the clinic’s founder, Keith Harley ’88, for making it what it is today. And there is a reason why our school is considered to have one of the better environmental programs in the country. As our students learn, they are able to contribute to important, ongoing cases affecting communities across the Chicago metro area.

Our recent graduates, such as Caitlin Ajax ’17, are entering developing fields, helping large companies meet sustainability goals amid an ever-changing political landscape. Other alumni help to craft that landscape, leveraging their law degrees to influence policy on both a local and a national scale. This issue also highlights a true strength of Chicago-Kent: how its ties to Illinois Tech allow our graduates, including Yesenia Villaseñor ’05, to go on to work at future-focused companies such as Tesla. Being tied to a tech school conducting innovative research on environmental and sustainability issues not only gives us clout, but also greatly benefits those receiving dual degrees in the sciences. To offer a couple of examples of Illinois Tech’s claims to fame, in 2011 the university installed Chicago’s first researchbased advanced wind turbine on its South Side campus, and the university’s solar- and wind-powered microgrid, which incorporates a variety of alternative energy technologies, reduces campus utility bills by about $1 million a year. As we enter a new era where everyone from young students to veteran law partners to corporate CEOs and stakeholders seem to be focusing on climate change and the environment, Chicago-Kent alumni will not just be part of the conversation. Rather, they will distinguish themselves as leaders of that conversation. Thank you, once again, for your continuing commitment to and support of Chicago-Kent.

Anita K. Krug Dean and Professor



Spring 2021


8 Features

8 Tackling Goliaths

With grit and determination, Keith Harley ’88 and his clinic became Chicago-Kent institutions.

12  A lumni Forum: The Future of Environmental Regulation Four veteran attorneys discuss the changing landscape.

14  Environmental Law 2.0 Caitlin Ajax ’17 describes what she sees as the newest career trend.

16  Intersection of Law and Science For Yesenia Villaseñor ’05, dual degrees put her in the fast lane to Tesla.

CHICAGO-KENT MAGAZINE Dean and Professor of Law ANITA K. KRUG Associate Vice President for Major and Planned Gifts SUSAN M. LEWERS Senior Director of Constituent Engagement JOSEPH VOLIN Produced by the Illinois Institute of Technology Office of Marketing and Communications Content Director CHELSEA KALBERLOH JACKSON Writer/Editor/Content Manager TAD VEZNER Contributing Writer KIRAN WEBSTER Marketing Manager DEIRDRE CRIMMINS Senior Graphic Designer SCOTT BENBROOK Photography DAVID ETTINGER, OLIVIA DIMMER, TONY RINALDO, ELENA ZHUKOVA Chicago-Kent Magazine is published by Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, for its alumni and friends. Address correspondence to Chicago-Kent Magazine, 565 West Adams Street, Chicago, Illinois 60661. Copyright 2021 Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology

16 Sections 2  Student News 4   Law School News 7  Features 19  Opinion 20  Class Notes 22   In Memoriam On the Cover Keith Harley ’88, head of Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Environmental and Energy Law Clinic, stands in front of an inactive coal-fired electric plant on Chicago’s South Side. A case brought by the clinic, which represented a local community group, contributed to a federal decree affecting 19 coal-fired electric generating units, mandating closure, conversion to, gas, or upgrades. Today, only three coal-fired units remain in the Chicago region.


Chicago-Kent College of Law students received numerous awards this season. Here is a list of this season’s winners: Martin Stainthorp ’21 was awarded the Mary Rose Strubbe Labor and Employment Writing Prize for his submission on the current legal attempts to challenge state and local sick and family leave ordinances in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Judges saw his entry as both timely and meticulously researched. The Strubbe Prize, named after alumna and writing program director Mary Rose Strubbe, is awarded annually for the best piece of legal writing in labor and employment law by a Chicago-Kent student, and comes with a $5,000 prize. James Heracklis ’21 received a $10,000 scholarship from the Hellenic Bar Association Foundation. The Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois is the largest and oldest Greek-American bar association in the state. Heracklis caught the association’s eye with his academic involvement, including his role as president of the Hellenic Law Student Association and managing editor of the Journal of Intellectual Property. Heracklis also volunteers for the Chicago-Kent Patent Hub.

Mia Rivecco ’22 and Taylor Shuman ’22 both received the Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Harold J. and Nancy F. Krent Excellence Award. The award is named after Chicago-Kent Professor Hal Krent, who was also the college’s dean



from 2003–2019, and his wife. Krent notes that both students are at the top of their class, serve as teaching assistants and on the law review, are excelling in moot court, and “not only are academic superstars, but are committed to giving back to the law school institutionally.” The award comes with a $2,500 prize. —Contributing Writer: Jamie Loo Bora Ndregjoni ’21 received the Illinois Judges Foundation’s Harold Sullivan Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship, named after long-time Illinois Judges Association supporter Judge Harold W. Sullivan, was established to help pass on ethical values to new generations of law students. Ndregjoni’s winning essay related to a Fifth Amendment question on whether police could get a warrant requiring a suspect to use his fingerprint to unlock his cell phone. Ndregjoni argued that forcing a suspect to unlock their phone would reveal the contents of the suspect’s mind, which would be considered testimonial, as well as compelled and potentially incriminating, which would qualify it for Fifth Amendment protection. —Contributing Writer: Jamie Loo

Public Interest Interns Awarded Stipends for Work at Chicago-Area Nonprofits

Monica Pechous ’20 racked up two additional writing awards this season, including taking first place in the Center for Alcohol Policy Writing Competition and winning the Illinois Local Government Lawyers Association’s Franklin W. Klein Law Student Writing Competition Award for the second year in a row. Pechous won previous awards for the 2020 Willis R. Tribler Law Student Writing Competition, the 2020 Klein Law Student Writing Competition, and the 2019 Companion Animal Law Writing Contest. —Contributing Writer: Jamie Loo

Student work has ranged from helping the impoverished and disenfranchised to defending civil liberties. In many cases the work entails offering a legal service to individuals who don’t typically have access to it.

A trio of Chicago-Kent College of Law students wanting to serve the underserved have been awarded internships at local nonprofits under the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) this spring. The awardees— Jaylin D. McClinton, Erin Shiel, and Joseph Crawford, all second-year law students—attained internships at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Greater Chicago Legal Clinic, and CARPLS Legal Aid, respectively. The internships come with stipends and are supervised by experienced attorneys.

“A PILI internship is a great opportunity for our Chicago-Kent students to explore public interest areas of law in which they are interested or passionate, to build their legal skills, and provide services to people in need,” says Michelle Vodenik, the college’s director of career services and public interest/diversity.


Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Moot Court and Trial Advocacy teams racked up stellar records this season, earning placements, wins, and awards in national competitions from October 2020 through April 2021. Mia Rivecco ’22 and Hannah Bucher ’22 pulled off an undefeated streak of wins to take the national William E. McGee Civil Rights Moot Court Competition title. In early November, Rivecco also won the Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition.

Jenn Peters ’22 and Andrew White ’22 finished in second place in the Domenick L. Gabrielli National Family Law Moot Court Competition, with Peters earning the competition’s best oralist award.


Third-year law students Valerie Letko and Kimberly Napoleon, along with second-year students Zoe Appler and Emily Salomone, advanced as two teams to nationals in the National Trial Competition. It was only the third time that a pair of teams advanced to nationals from a single school in Chicago’s region. The four students also finished as national semifinalists after emerging as the Midwest region’s top team in the All Star Bracket Challenge.


Shaunagh McGoldrick ’22 and Scott LaMunyon ’22 were regional finalists in the prestigious American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition.




Hayden Dinges ’21 and Daniel Kfoury ’21 won best brief in the New York City Bar Association National Moot Court Competition, where they advanced to the quarterfinals.


Micah Fishman ’21 and Michelle Locascio ’21 won second place in the National Health Law Moot Court Competition. Bora Ndregjoni, Megan Escobosa, and Megan Williams, all in the class of 2021, finished as national semifinalists at the 11th Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition. The team also took home one of the top petitioner brief prizes. Claire Axelrood ’21, Eddie Hettel ’21, Adrian Delgado ’20, and Andrew Hale ’20 reached the semifinal round of the 2020 National Pretrial Competition, a trial advocacy event.

Lorianna Anderson ’22, Alexander O’Connor ’22, Sam McHugh ’22, and Megan Escobosa ’21 reached the semifinals in the National Ethics Trial Competition in March.

Alex Mathews ’21 and Ion Moraru ’21 won the Giles Rich Patent moot court regional competition in March.



Eddie Hettel ’21, Matt Lee (’21), Alex Bennett ’22, and Razaul Haque ’23 advanced to the quarterfinals in the South Texas Mock Trial Challenge in March.



Whatever you decide to do professionally with your law degree, I beg of you each, wherever you may fall on the philosophical or political continuum, to utilize your well-developed criticalthinking skills to lift public discourse up from where it has been in the past few years.” —Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul

Commencement 2021: ‘Our Nation Needs You All’



On May 16, 2021, Chicago-Kent College of Law celebrated the graduation of 260 students—including 223 J.D. graduates and 37 LL.M. graduates—in a virtual commencement ceremony. Keynote speaker Kwame Raoul ’93, current attorney general of Illinois, was joined by Chicago-Kent Dean Anita K. Krug and two student speakers. Valedictorian Alex Matthews delivered the J.D. commencement address, and Pejman Eshtehardi, an LL.M. candidate in financial services law, delivered the graduate address. The ceremony included a virtual procession, along with additional video content submitted by students.


In the Media… “The effort to disrupt the certification of a free and fair election was a betrayal of the core values that undergird our Constitution. Lives were lost, the seat of our democracy was desecrated, and our country was shamed.”—Portion of a public statement jointly signed by Chicago-Kent College of Law Dean Anita K. Krug along with 156 other law school deans across the country following the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol

Professor Christopher Schmidt [left] leads a discussion during the Constitutional Democracy Project’s Youth Decide event in 2017.

Constitutional Democracy Project Lets Teens Become Justices for a Day

Law Students Volunteer to Secure Benefits for Those Affected by COVID-19 Crisis After a Chicago-Kent College of Law alumna working for Legal Aid Chicago mentioned the social service agency’s exploding caseload to a former adviser when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of students stepped up. Nine Chicago-Kent students volunteered 156.5 hours of their time during the 2020 winter break to return calls placed to Legal Aid’s hotline. Gwynne Kizer Mashon ’10, who is the new supervisory attorney of Legal Aid Chicago’s Public Benefits practice group, connected with former adviser Michelle Vodenik, the law school’s director of career services and public interest, after seeing a swelling bottleneck of cases involving Cook County clients who were having trouble applying for benefits. Vodernik put out a call, and students assisted with tasks both simple and complex: from filling out online forms to navigating state bureaucracies and appeals processes. “There were lots of first-timers, people that weren’t used to applying for things like food stamps,” says Kizer Mashon, who added of the students, “They’ve been fantastic, energetic, and very smart.” The volunteers included first-year students Larisa Gamberg, Jack Gorman, Nicole Jansma, Naomi Lazar, Gabe Spellberg, Megan Warshawsky, and Marrell Williams. Secondyear student Sandra Paulson and third-year student Mariami Tkeshelashvili also joined the effort.

Approximately five dozen teenagers from high schools as far away as Seattle crowded onto Zoom in March to debate a current Supreme Court case with the help of Chicago-Kent College of Law professors and students, as part of an event put on by the college’s Constitutional Democracy Project. The Youth Decide event involved students who replied to questions about Lange v. California, a Fourth Amendment case involving a California Highway Patrol officer who followed a driver he thought was acting suspicious, into the driver’s garage. The officer then entered and collected evidence leading to a drunk-driving arrest. Students debated whether suspicion of a misdemeanor qualified as “exigent circumstances,” allowing an officer to enter a home without a warrant. The teens debated the case both as an overall group and also in smaller “courts,” where they had to reach verdicts on their own and present them to the larger body. Law students assisted in the discussion and also had a virtual lunch with students to talk about careers in law. Both high school teachers and students noted that civics education is sorely needed at the high school level, and in-depth educational events about the United States Constitution are invaluable. Chicago-Kent brought the Constitutional Democracy Project in-house with a single staff member after the organization, previously known as the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, closed its doors in February 2020.




In the Media… “If I were running for office, the chatbot could say something racist as if it were me and dash my prospects for election.”—University Distinguished Professor Emerita Lori Andrews, discussing dangers of social mediaharvested data to create personal autonomous “chatbots” (Gizmodo)

Nancy S. Kim Named Inaugural Michael Paul Galvin Chair

Law Lab Director Honored as Academic Data Leader, Co-Edits New Book The director of the Law Lab at Chicago-Kent College of Law earned recognition as a top leader in the field of data and analytics from a national publication dedicated to the topic, and a book on the integration of law and technology that he co-edited was released.

Starting in fall 2021, Nancy S. Kim will be the first Michael Paul Galvin Chair in Entrepreneurship and Applied Legal Technology, in which she will reside and teach at Chicago-Kent College of Law while engaging in interdisciplinary research and facilitating law student involvement at the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at Illinois Institute of Technology. Kim is the ProFlowers Distinguished Professor of Internet Studies at San Diego’s California Western School of Law, where she has taught for the past 17 years. Prior to that, she worked in the private sector in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kim’s research centers on the way technology and law interact. From the explosion of online digital contracts—where users are prompted to quickly click “Yes” to large volumes of small print—to the notion of how such clicks equate to consent and the overall legality of online consent itself, Kim has explored how the evolving technological world is changing our perceptions and expectations, and even the way we live.

The following month, Legal Informatics was published by Cambridge University Press. An exploration of how emerging technologies affect the practice of and access to the law, the book was edited by Katz along with Ron Dolin, a senior research fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, and Michael J. Bommarito, the Law Lab’s research director.

Law School Teams Up with Local Community Organization to Educate South Side Youth

From virtual court hearings and online dispute resolution to utilizing data analytics for document review, the book explores how attorneys and their clients can take advantage of technology to access and improve legal services.

In fall 2020 Chicago-Kent College of Law worked with community-based nonprofit Future Ties to hold six educational sessions with high school students living in the Parkway Gardens Apartments on Chicago’s South Side. Future Ties was founded by Chicago Police Officer Jennifer Maddox, who worked as a security guard at Parkway during her off hours. Her organization offers academic, life skills, and mentorship programming for Parkway’s children and their parents. The first session, conducted in October 2020 over Zoom, was a discussion on how to interpret a law governing vehicles in a park. Students debated potential ways to rewrite the law as they became more familiar with the legal language inherent to ordinances. The sessions were part of the Discover Law program coordinated by Chicago-Kent’s Marsha Ross-Jackson, senior lecturer and assistant dean, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Michelle Vodenik, senior director and public interest/diversity adviser in the Career Services Office. 6


In January, Professor Daniel Martin Katz made Chief Data Officer Magazine’s 2021 list of Leading Academic Data Leaders, which honors 100 academics from institutions around the globe.

The Law Lab is a Chicago-Kent teaching and research center focused on the integration of law and technology.

In the Media… “The bottom line is if you can’t get jurors because they won’t come in or they can’t sit safely, or you can’t get witnesses who won’t come in or can’t testify safely, you have to do something.” —Richard Kling, Chicago-Kent clinical law professor, on the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision to allow certain types of remote hearings (Quad-City Times)



As debates about clean air and water, renewable energy, and sustainability challenge everyone from regulators to manufacturers to community activists, well-trained attorneys are helping guide those discussions. Chicago-Kent College of Law has long been recognized as a leader in environmental law education, having established one of the first specialization programs in environmental and energy law in the 1980s. Chicago-Kent Magazine talks with alumni and faculty who spearheaded that early effort, and others who are just starting out in this ever-evolving field. SPRING 2021



GOLIATHS Before “environmental justice” was a term, Keith Harley ’88 was its champion, fighting for small community groups on Chicago’s South Side.


hose who know Keith Harley call him cerebral, stoic. He shies from the spotlight. During meetings and depositions, he maintains a poker face as he patiently inscribes notes. “I’ve only seen him laugh, like, three times. I’ve only seen him get upset three times,” says Little Village Environmental Justice Organization Executive Director Kim Wasserman, who has known Harley for 22 years. “I feel like the calmer he is, the longer he waits to start talking, the more you’re going to get your [expletive] handed to you.” Photo: David Ettinger





Harley is both the calm and the storm. Even before he started the Environmental and Energy Law Clinic at Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1998, he went from tiny actions to giant motions, bringing change that isn’t so much systemic as Earth saving. The clinic now commands an unparalleled reputation for helping community groups—particularly those in Chicago’s poorer neighborhoods—often bringing federal cavalry to bear against the infractions of big polluters. Locally, it was the rudimental tip of the spear in the environmental justice movement. “Keith is the reason we have an environmental justice officer in the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency,” says Wasserman. “He just has a knack for finding spaces where we have rights.” The clinic Harley founded decades ago has since helped hundreds of small community groups, succeeding against Goliathan opponents from coal fire conglomerates to city hall. It has spurred law and policy changes. And it has taught hundreds of Chicago-Kent students the tenets of environmental stewardship. But like most big things, it started out small.


hen Harley graduated from Chicago-Kent in 1988, he started working for a small nonprofit on East 91st Street in South Chicago, a neighborhood dominated by both poverty and industry. “I do not come from a family of environmentalists, and I do not come from a family of lawyers,” Harley says. Instead, he grew up in a steel family, in northwest Indiana. His father worked for Bethlehem Steel from the time he emigrated from the United Kingdom in the 1950s to the time he retired 35 years later. So Harley understands how an industry can be the lifeblood of a community­—but also how that relationship can have consequences: the mingling of prosperity and risk. “The opportunity to go work in a clinic in Southeast Chicago, where steel was dominant for decades, felt to me like going home,” Harley says. When he began at Chicago Legal Clinic, he started by handing out manuals—hundreds and hundreds of manuals that he and fellow law student Gary Prichard ’88 wrote, about how regular people could get involved in environmental decision making. They gave them to every community group they could find. “That was what we used to prime the pump,” Harley says. And while originally he took every case that came through Chicago Legal Clinic’s door, there was a clear need for someone to tackle environmental issues specifically. “Every group had something on their agenda, like, what are the risks of this unremediated coke battery site? The spigot turned on and just started flowing.” Then came the clinic’s seminal case. Harley got a call from a group of residents of Altgeld Gardens, a city-owned public housing complex several miles from the Indiana border. They’d just received notices that their children had elevated lead levels, and didn’t know what to do. The Chicago Housing Authority wasn’t doing much. After interviewing tenant after tenant, Harley realized the lack of response was not just irresponsible, but systemic. There was lead paint everywhere. “The more I began working on these cases I realized it was not a case with those units at Altgeld, but with Chicago Housing Authority stock in general,” Harley says. So he thought bigger. Rather than just file for relief for Altgeld, he started inquiring about CHA’s entire stock of 28,000 housing units citywide. Negotiations led to a comprehensive settlement with CHA for systemwide reforms, which the federal government funded.



“That’s his niche: getting the feds to step in and say the city’s not doing enough,” Wasserman says. Within five years, the city housing authority demolished a number of its housing communities and replaced them with new alternatives, and removed all lead paint from the remaining units. The successful legal tactic soon became Harley’s modus operandi. “Over and over again, that was the kind of thing we were dealing with in these cases. It began locally, but when we started pulling on the thread we saw they were representative of broader problems,” Harley says. So in addition to tackling the local problem, they looked at broader problems. But he never left the local groups behind. Wasserman speaks disparagingly of national “big green” organizations that told her group they’d negotiate on its behalf, then struck deals that left it hanging.

“Over and over again, that was the kind of thing we were dealing with in these cases. It began locally, but when we started pulling on the thread we saw they were representative of broader problems.” —Keith Harley “We have run the gamut of getting screwed, and never once have we run into that with Keith,” Wasserman says. “Keith is someone who very much upholds what it means to be an ethical lawyer.” Harley soon hit the fundraising trail, talking about the need for a clinic focused solely on environmental issues. The first big break came from the MacArthur Foundation; others followed, and the Environmental and Energy Law Clinic started in 1998. Tapping his Chicago-Kent contacts, Harley forged a long-term relationship with the law college, gaining the volunteer efforts of

Baum fellow. She has been involved with the clinic since 2018, when she was a law student at Chicago-Kent. If anything, the experience has brought Hadwen perspective not just about regulations and laws, but also the kind of insight one gets when conducting the trench work of environmental justice. Certain incidents seem to be more prevalent in poorer communities, she now notices. One example: last Easter, Hadwen attended Little Village community meetings after a century-old smokestack at the defunct Crawford Coal Plant imploded during a demolition, blanketing the neighborhood in dust. There were plenty of residents “who knew an environmental wrong happened, but didn’t know what the next steps were and where to go,” Hadwen says. “We were able to provide that outlet, bridge the gap between regular people and the legal world that can be very daunting.” Chicago Legal Clinic, which houses Harley’s operation, has since moved downtown and changed its name to the Greater Chicago Legal Clinic. There’s a reason: the need for it has grown into the suburbs, as well. “The communities that look like south Chicago did back in the day are like Harvey or Ford Heights. These are the communities with profound needs right now,” Harley says. And wherever the front lines lie, Harley adds, that’s where Chicago-Kent’s Environmental and Energy Law Clinic will be. Photo: David Ettinger

roughly a dozen students every semester. It wasn’t the typical way Chicago-Kent handled its clinics, which are mostly in-house. But the clinic commanded some big selling points: a ready client base and neighborhood offices that placed students on the front lines. “We want the students to have a case, a client, and a place,” Harley says. And they did. One case, in fact, absorbed the efforts of entire generations of Chicago-Kent clinical students.


ack around 2000, people in the modest Chicago exurb of Lockport, Illinois, noticed dark smoke drifting from the stacks of a nearby coal-fired power plant. A tiny community group started meeting around a dining room table. Members had talked to the clinic before and asked them to look into what was going on, what could be done. Years later, the community group, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, was backed in a lawsuit by the United States government and the State of Illinois. Harvard University studies pointed out the smoke’s detrimental effects. A joint complaint between the group and the federal and state government alleged the company had violated emissions standards and breached their permit. Within seven years, the company—which had a fleet of plants on top of the one the group noticed—entered into a federal consent agreement. “Here you have this case where an all-volunteer organization that meets around a dining room table at a person’s home in Lockport, Illinois, is equal as plaintiffs to the United States and the State of Illinois,” says Harley. “They bring that community-based perspective into the case. And that would not have happened if not for the Environmental and Energy Law Clinic.” Currently, the clinic has about 50 cases. “Keith and the clinic are environmental institutions at this point,” says Cassandra Hadwen ’20, the clinic’s current senior

Environmental and Energy Law Clinic Baum Fellow Jake Levin ’21 Jake Levin ’21 says he first found interest in environmental law when taking a 65-day road trip across the country as an undergraduate. “Glacier National Park was an ‘aha’ moment for me. You could see all the glaciers, evidence of climate change,” the avid hiker and climber says. After getting a communications degree and working in sales for several years, he felt unfulfilled. He thought more and more about that trip and picked ChicagoKent College of Law because of its reputation for environmental law and the clout of its associated clinic. “It’s not about my individual achievements. I just hope to be part of an agency, team, or action where I can look back and say, ‘I helped protect that,’ ” Levin says. “I just want my kids to have access to the same outdoors I do, see the same things I’m seeing.” While at Chicago-Kent he has put in the work: a total of five internships, including two with the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. “The legal writing program [at Chicago-Kent], I think, really helped. People there said my writing was very strong for a first-year intern,” Levin says. He’s looking to work either for a government agency or in the nonprofit sector.



Alumni Forum:

The Future of Enviro

Chicago-Kent Magazine gathered together four Chicago-Kent College of La to discuss the environmental regulation and litigation trends they have noti regulatory landscape may shift in the near future. All participants solely expressed their personal views, and did not speak in or organizations.

Cam Davis ’92

John Watson ’88

Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Chair, Baker McKenzie’s Global Environmental Practice

Vice President, GEI Consultants Inc., a ChicagoBased Environmental Engineering Firm There are two things on my mind. First, threats to administrative law. One thing I’m looking closely at are changes to longstanding administrative law under Chevron v. NRDC (whose precedent provides a great deal of discretion to governmental agencies in how they interpret environmental law). I am concerned the pendulum may be swinging to much more judicial oversight of decisions that ought to be within the discretion of experts within our federal agencies. Second, there is a great deal of emphasis right now on climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and moving toward renewables. The way that those changes are going to be effectuated are through the kinds of bills that we are now seeing being entertained by Congress. One trend to look at is whether we’re going to see a lot of the state attorneys general challenge those changes to federal law in a way that may hold up progress in the fight against climate change. At the municipal level, I’m not seeing a ton of changes yet, but what we see coming down the pike from a federal perspective will have ripple effects for agencies like the MWRD.



Unfortunately, it seems like the last four years or so have been suggestive of these broad pendulum shifts that make regulation, enforcement, and administrative rule very chaotic. On the environmental enforcement front, for the first time in my 30-plus year career, the Trump years were notable in the changes in operations and enforcement at [Environmental Protection Agency].…The EPA, on the enforcement front, really disappeared. Interestingly, we were all sort of expecting that state and environmental groups would step up and fill the void, but that really didn’t happen either. It seemed like a lot of it may be budgetary, but a lot of the states took the opportunity as well to step back from enforcement. What we expect [now] is with the U.S. EPA, there will be a significant refocus and reemphasis on enforcement.… We’re certainly expecting the U.S. EPA to look for some early examples on the environmental justice front. [Additionally], companies are being pushed by all of their stakeholders to do more, to say more on the [environmental, social, and governance] front, and that’s creating exposure for companies and litigation. We’re seeing a lot of new cases in the state and federal consumer-protection areas focusing on claims made [by companies] on product labels…in environmental sustainability reports and marketing materials, about their performance around environmental sustainability issues.

onmental Regulation

aw alumni, each with decades of experience in environmental law, iced in their jobs recently, as well as their predictions of how the an official capacity as representatives of their respective agencies

Julie Soderna ’98 General Counsel, Citizens Utility Board, a Chicago-Based Nonprofit Watchdog We’ve been working on getting an energy bill through the [Illinois] General Assembly, one that covers the gamut of environmental and energy issues, from electrification of buildings and transportation, carbon pollution reduction…. That’s the landscape for the next 10 years. The regulatory structure and move to renewables is going to be largely dictated by whatever bill is passed. Once a big energy bill gets passed, there will be a lot of administrative regulatory litigation at the Illinois Commerce Commission. There’s a huge equality piece to think about. We need to bring benefits, an approved grid, and renewables to communities that have been deprived of those benefits historically— workforce and contractor equity, climate energy job planning, energy- efficiency financing, and community solar targeted at low-income areas and BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] communities. The events of last summer really elevated the issue for everyone, and it became really a non-negotiable priority. We may run into some issues with equal-protection law, because the irony is that if you try to target benefits to the people who should be getting them, you become a target from those who think they shouldn’t be getting them. So it’s been a little tricky working that out.

Leslie KirbyMiles ’96 Section Chief, Office of the Regional Council, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5 Everyone knows there is a transition going on in the EPA, and it’s a fairly big transition from the previous administration to this administration. This administration is going to prioritize environmental justice and climate change, but other than those broad brush strokes, we haven’t seen anything specific yet. So we’re really looking for some more direction from the political appointees. Enforcement is continuing, and partnerships with states and tribes are a big thing, and always have been a big thing in any administration. The vocabulary changed a little last administration, but we are still protecting the air, water, and land at the EPA. I do think you’re going to see, and we have seen, a significant increase in mobile source work [vehicle regulation] in the Clean Air Act. And we’re focused also on accident prevention, to help plan and prevent spills…The other thing we may be seeing more [regulation] of, particularly, is contaminants. But I would also lie on top of that, this idea of environmental justice.…We will be highlighting that work, maybe more in this administration than in past administrations.



Photo: Tony Rinaldo



Environmental Law 2.0 “You don’t want your career to ride on the coattails of something that was hot 20 years ago,” says environmental law attorney Caitlin Ajax ’17.


he’s not just talking about energy policy or industrial trends. For several years after graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Ajax took what many might consider the “traditional” environmental law route. She conducted litigation and regulatory work for a private firm dealing with well-ingrained acronyms: CAA, CERCLA, RCRA. Those would be the Clean Air Act, dealing with, well, clean air; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, overseeing Superfund cleanups and related litigation; and the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, addressing handling of waste. But all those mouthfuls offer leaner meals these days, Ajax believes. “It’s not to say that work will completely go away. But I don’t think there’s as much,” Ajax says. “A lot of important developments are not really happening in the regulatory space anymore. And the traditional statutory framework of American environmental law doesn’t necessarily address cutting-edge environmental issues. Regulation is important, but a lot of important developments are happening outside of government.” In those few short years, she came to the conclusion that the kind of work that maintained attorneys 20 or even 10 years her senior would not sustain her. On the other hand, Ajax noticed a quickly growing trend surrounding proactive sustainability work, or environmental, social, and governance (ESG). That is working with private companies that are hearing loud and clear from investors and shareholders that they want not just strategies but action—a culture that truly incorporates the ideals of environmental sustainability. On a practical level, ignoring that trend exposes companies to greater risk these days, Ajax says. “By looking at emissions, or a company’s vulnerability to rising sea levels, you are identifying to shareholders what your risk profile looks like, and also identifying business opportunities,” Ajax says. “It’s not just an issue of market competitiveness now, because if you’re not doing this, you’re kind of the outlier. If you’re a mid-cap to larger company, you really don’t have a choice but to engage in this conversation.” Curt Spalding, a former regional administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is partnering with Ajax, contracting for a real estate investment trust by incorporating sustainability into the company’s culture. “She’s kind of ahead of her time,” Spalding says of Ajax. “Over the last five years, the interest in environmental social and governance has grown by leaps and bounds.” Take basic issues such as reporting and transparency. Ajax notes that after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, British Petroleum got a lot of bad press, and was the subject of litigation, for making sustainability-related claims that turned out to be false.

“It’s not OK for a company to say, ‘We care a lot about something,’ but not really do it,” Spalding says. “I think her law degree has given her a keen eye on how that works, explaining the larger risks for the company.” And in the age of the internet, adds Ajax, “It’s very difficult for people to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes in terms of their practices.” The trend has moved beyond left and right politics. Yes, former President Donald Trump backed away from environmental commitments, such as when he exited the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. But many companies didn’t seem to care, Ajax notes: they moved forward with similar carbon reduction initiatives on their own. “The market is driving this process forward,” Ajax says. “That said, with the Biden administration, there will be a lot more resources and a lot more attention paid.” It was a bit hard at first to break into the work. Companies aren’t really looking for this kind of help from associates at big law firms, Ajax believes. And many companies aren’t looking for in-house counsels; they’re hiring sustainability experts, not attorneys, she says. “There’s this whole generation of students in their 20s who came to college when universities were adopting sustainability programs,” Ajax notes. She also points out that she wasn’t one of them. So, she had to find a way to get her foot in the door before being pigeonholed as a more traditional environmental litigation attorney. Through networking, she was able to partner with Spalding, who knows a lot about environmental processes, but not as much about getting corporate boards to approve them. “I didn’t walk in knowing the process of getting these new rules set up [internally within a company],” says Spalding. “Caitlin was very versed in it. I think her law degree has given her a keen eye on how that works in larger risks for the company.” It’s not Ajax’s only gig; she currently has a fellowship with the Conservation Law Foundation, where she develops relationships with farmers and food businesses, trying to keep their land agricultural and connecting them with attorneys to help with their legal needs. Supporting local farmers and food businesses, and working to decentralize food production, is important for the environment, Ajax believes. As for the future, she hopes to make corporate sustainability her primary focus. “Sometimes you have to take proactive steps and break the traditional mold to make your career what you want it to be,” Ajax says.





Intersection of Law and Science “That’s my dream, to work there some day,” Yesenia Villaseñor said. Twin degrees in environmental law and management made it happen.

Photo: Elena Zhukova



Photo: Elena Zhukova

What really motivated me to go into environmental law was having a child,” Yesenia Villaseñor ’05 says. Before applying to law school, Villaseñor was environmentally conscientious to a T: using cloth diapers, sticking with organic food. She had an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Latin American studies, and thought fleetingly about environmental anthropology, fascinated by indigenous cultures and their study of the environment and medicine. “But what I was really interested in was changing the laws. As a mom I said, ‘How is it possible we have all these toxic chemicals in our food, water, and everyday products?’ Villaseñor says. On her 2002 application to Chicago-Kent College of Law, she wrote, “I feel that the future is one focused on sustainability, and I want to be an actor in that environment.” Now, nearly two decades later, as Tesla’s associate general counsel for environmental health and safety, Villaseñor still spends a lot of time thinking about chemicals. “I do feel there is a growing, expansive universe of laws related to chemicals and the products that we use in our everyday life,” she says. “The raw materials and how are you going to dispose of it at the end? You need to have a background in understanding how it’s made.” Villaseñor knew that transforming a Latin American studies major into an attorney with a solid base of technical knowledge would take some doing. She picked Chicago-Kent because of its dual-degree program with Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business, where she received a master’s degree in environmental management and sustainability. “It really helped me understand the basics of abating environmental contaminants, so I could better understand environmental regulations,” she says. “I know what a scrubber is, and generally speaking, what a wastewater treatment plant looks like.” “She’s a great environmental lawyer. She knows how to speak the language of both law and science, which is important in the environmental field,” says Ignacia Moreno, a former assistant attorney general for the United States Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division during the Obama administration.



“A lot of environmental laws were written for industries that have been in place for decades, if not centuries. I think we’re going to see a big evolution in environmental laws across the world.” —Yesenia Villaseñor

“She confers not only with the technical team but also the operational team,” adds Moreno, who is now in private practice as chief executive officer and principal of the iMoreno Group, PLC and has worked with Villaseñor. “She wants to know how it all works, to have an understanding of how all the pieces go together so she can find creative and effective solutions.” Her first job out of college was as an environmental associate with the firm that is now Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, doing everything from environmental due diligence and compliance counseling in the areas of air, water, and waste to responding to government investigations. Early on in her career Villaseñor took a trip to California and on her way back to the airport passed Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory. “That’s my dream, to work there some day,” she told her friend. From there she worked for a couple years in environmental, health, and safety at Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, Illinois. Then she went back to Chicago, where she worked for Exelon, supporting the environmental, health, and safety practices of several of its business units, including its renewable energy portfolio. When a job opened up at Tesla in 2018, she says, “By then my background was perfect. I’d worked in manufacturing, for an energy company, and for health and safety as well as environmental law in private practice.” Since she started at Tesla, she has had to pay particular attention to the quickly evolving regulations governing the relatively new electric vehicle industry and, particularly, that of battery regulations across the globe. With a company growing as fast as Tesla, ensuring compliance with a patchwork of local, state, federal, and foreign jurisdictions requires 10 times the homework. “There’s a lot of R&D going into this field. Changes are happening, and they’re happening very fast,” Villaseñor says. Getting back to her focus on chemicals—and those related to batteries—Villaseñor has seen enforcement and regulatory interest skyrocket in recent years as countries and businesses increase their focus on sustainability and that of extended producer responsibility. Governments and regulators are looking increasingly at the 1992 Basel Convention, analyzing its ability to monitor how different countries handle batteries, and how such materials are moved. The European Union, Villaseñor notes, is already working on a specific framework for the regulation of batteries. She says, “A lot of environmental laws were written for industries that have been in place for decades, if not centuries. I think we’re going to see a big evolution in environmental laws across the world. “In the end, that’s how this effort at climate change is going to get solved.”


Rethinking “Middle-Aged” Environmental Law


ith the election of President Joseph R. Biden in 2020, both climate change mitigation (rolling back greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation (dealing with present and projected adverse consequences) are back on the political agenda. This brief commentary focuses on one of the many challenges that the Biden administration will face: a totally dysfunctional legal framework to address the problem. Modern environmental law was put in place between 1969–1980, but really between 1969–1973. Four of the five major statutes—the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act—were enacted in this brief period when environmental protection was a bipartisan issue. The fifth law, Superfund, was added in 1980. In the early ’70s, cars were bigger, heavier, and emitted large amounts of pollutants; telephone calls were made from black rotary-dial leased telephones or from phone booths; and cancer death rates in proportion to the population were historically high. Since then, improvements in each of these areas have come about as part of a normal adaptation to advances in technology and science. No such adaptation has occurred in environmental law, even as our understanding of the problems that the planet faces is far greater than it was in 1970. Science has informed society of two major, interrelated problems that were not part of the environmental decade. The first overlooked problem is the need for biodiversity conservation, and the second is climate change. Early environmental law, especially the Clean Water Act, was concerned with stabilizing ecosystems, but the broader idea was that we should be concerned about the loss of variety arising from the species extinction and other phenomena, and that living variation itself has current value only came into focus in the 1980s. This requires that we move beyond the preservation of individual species to the management of larger geographical areas. As for climate change, the greenhouse effect was a subject of discussion among government and academic scientists starting in the 1950s, but it did not become a matter of general concern until the 1980s. Finally, environmental law is largely directed at the “other”—large-scale polluters and other “bad actors.” Those who raised questions about the need to adjust individual “lifestyles” were dismissed as part of the “hippie” counterculture. Biodiversity conservation and climate change have been on the environmental agenda since the late 1980s, but environmental law remains unchanged, stuck in the era of cars with tailfins and rotary dial telephones. Actually, in many cases, especially with biodiversity conservation on our public lands, we are stuck with post-Civil War laws designed to settle the West by radically altering the natural environment. The conventional reason is that environmental protection, especially climate change mitigation, has

become an intensely partisan issue, one on which Congress remains largely gridlocked. As a result, the now establishment environmental movement has been forced to turn to the courts both to protect the gains of the 1970s and to try and force agencies to take biodiversity and climate change into account in their regulatory decisions. There have been some important judicial victories, but the net result is that we are attempting to address these by endlessly trying to jam square pegs into round holes through “trench warfare” litigation. There is no easy solution to these problems, but as scientists keep upping the urgency of the problems and the consequences of individual choice—from getting in the car, to planning a meal, or buying another item of cotton clothing—become clear, we must rethink every aspect of our now antique environmental law. This is a daunting task, which may not be possible in today’s toxic political environment. Nonetheless, I suggest three principles that should guide the effort: 1.) Land use should be at the center of all environmental policy. Environment law has concentrated on limiting air and water pollution from large sources. Federal regulation is easier because it basically leaves local and state control over land use in place. This means that we never get to the root of the problem. To take two examples, control of water pollution is a watershed wide problem, and control of greenhouse emissions from transportation is primarily a land use problem. 2.) Individual behavior and consumer choices must be integrated into traditional command and control regulation—a nice task for lawyers and social scientists. 3.) Environmental law must be better grounded in science by recognizing that we must be able to incorporate progressively the evolution of our scientific understanding of environmental degradation. —Dan Tarlock, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Professor of Law Emeritus







Jennifer L. Ashley, Libertyville, Ill., was named one of the Top 100 Illinois Super Lawyers for 2021 and one of the Top 50 Female Super Lawyers for 2021. Ashley is a partner at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, and focuses on the areas of personal injury and wrongful death law, including cases that involve car accidents, premises liability, and products liability.

Joseph B. Moore, Crown Point, Ind., joined Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney as a shareholder in the Chicago office. He is part of the litigation and catastrophic insurance claim defense practice groups for Illinois and Indiana.

Jason J. Friedl, Chicago, joined Romanucci and Blandin. He concentrates on sexual abuse cases, including those involving children.

Michael A. Wilder, Chicago, was selected by Ariel Investments and WVON Radio as one of Chicago’s 40 Game Changers for its Class of 2020. Wilder is a shareholder for Littler Mendelson P.C. and is a member of the firm’s Class Action practice group.



Sirat K. Attapit, Washington, D.C., was appointed to assistant United States trade representative for intergovernmental affairs in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Fiona M. McEntee, Chicago, was honored with a Women’s Bar Association of Illinois 2020 Top Women Lawyers In Leadership Award. McEntee is the founding and managing partner of McEntee Law Group.

2000 1967


Joel Gimpel, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, continues to enjoy his retirement and has kept busy by serving on local nonprofit and county government boards and commissions. Currently, Gimpel is president of the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra Society, where he is principal second violinist, and also performs with the Maui Pops Orchestra.

Mark A. Nieds, Fort Myers, Fla., was named an inaugural co-chair of the Lee County Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Law Section. Nieds is an associate for Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., and chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property group.

1973 Thomas A. Demetrio, Chicago, was ranked first in the state by Illinois Super Lawyers for 2021. It’s the fifth consecutive year that Demetrio has earned the No. 1 overall attorney ranking. Demetrio is a founding partner of Corboy & Demetrio.

Sherry Knutson Vaughan, Chicago, was named a co-chair of the Tucker Ellis Health and Life Sciences group. Vaughan is a trial lawyer and partner, with more than 20 years of experience in product liability and toxic tort cases, with an emphasis on defending pharmaceutical and medical device companies.



Jack J. Carriglio, Glenview, Ill., was recognized as a 2021 Illinois Super Lawyer for business litigation. Carriglio is a member for Cozen O’Connor, where he represents clients in commercial litigation and class actions.

Stephen P. Crossman, Parker, Colo., was promoted to chief revenue officer with SurePoint Technologies.

1989 Michael J. Renzi, Joliet, Ill., was named as the Will County public defender. Renzi has practiced law and worked as an assistant public defender with the Will County Public Defender’s Office since 1990.



1998 Jennifer Durham King, Chicago, was elected to serve a second consecutive term as chair of the Corporate Practice Area and on the Board of Directors for Vedder Price. King, who has served in the role since 2019, is the first woman to lead the corporate practice in the firm’s history.



Mark L. Radtke, Chicago, joined Cozen O’Connor’s Bankruptcy, Insolvency, and Restructuring practice in the Chicago office. Radtke focuses his practice on corporate reorganization, creditors’ rights, and bankruptcy.

Kristen E. Prinz, River Forest, Ill., was recognized as one of Above the Law’s Lawline Top Women Faculty 2020. She is principal at the Prinz Law Firm, PC.



Joseph V. Vito, Wheeling, Ill., was elevated to partner at Lavelle Law. Vito focuses primarily on personal injury cases, along with work on litigation, real estate, and election law cases.

Juli D. Dreifuss, Mettawa, Ill., was elevated to special counsel in the Wealth Transfer and Succession Planning group for Much Shelist, P.C. Dreifuss counsels clients on tax planning and the integration of estate plans and corporate structures, with an eye toward transferring wealth and business interests in a tax-efficient manner.

Barbara N. Flores, Chicago, began her term as president-elect of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois. She was also honored with a Women’s Bar Association of Illinois 2020 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award. Flores is a commissioner for the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

2009 Tracy S. Gruber, Salt Lake City, was named executive director of the Utah Department of Human Services in January 2021 and unanimously confirmed by the Utah Senate in February 2021. Previous to her appointment by Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox, she was director of the Office of

2021 Institutional Partner Award: Chapman Spingola LLP Chapman Spingola LLP has a rich history of recruiting and supporting Chicago-Kent College of Law students. Peter Spingola ’97, co-founder, Sara Siegall ’08, and Shannon Knight ’11 are all partners at the firm. Adrienne Finucane ’21 and Jana Crane ’22 both work as summer associates and will join the firm as associates after graduation. In honor of the firm’s contributions—from mentorship to employment of Chicago-Kent students and graduates—Chapman Spingola received the law school’s 2021 Institutional Partner Award. Headquartered in Chicago, the firm specializes in commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, technology and IP transactions, cybersecurity and information privacy, and business counseling and transactions.

Child Care at the Utah Department of Workforce Services and senior adviser for the Intergenerational Poverty Initiative.

2010 Sarah J. Gasperini, Chicago, was elevated to principal with Jackson Lewis P.C. Gasperini represents management exclusively in a variety of employment and labor law matters before state and federal courts and agencies. Michael T. Gustafson, Chicago, was elevated to partner with Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Gustafson represents clients in a full range of financial and corporate matters. Dana A. Popish, Chicago, was appointed to serve as the director of the Illinois Department of Insurance by Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker. Popish was a former legislative and regulatory counsel at Allstate Insurance Company.

Charles J. Prochaska, Elmhurst, Ill., was promoted to partner with SmithAmundsen LLC, where he defends wrongful death, premises liability, truck and auto collision, product liability, contract, and legal malpractice matters.

2011 Jack A. Gould, Chicago, was promoted to partner with Swanson, Martin and Bell, LLP. He focuses his practice on product liability, toxic tort litigation, and general trial practice.

2013 Sylvia B. St. Clair, Los Angeles, transferred to Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP’s Los Angeles office from Chicago. Luke Harriman, Elmhurst, Ill., was elevated to principal at Much Shelist, P.C. His practice focuses on wealth transfer and succession planning.



Rob L. Kohen, Chicago, was included in the Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars for 2021. Kohen is an attorney at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., and focuses on personal injury, wrongful death, car accidents, truck accidents, bicycle accidents, construction negligence, and medical malpractice.

Alanna Elinoff, Chicago, joined Perkins Coie LLP as an associate. Elinoff manages regulatory compliance projects for companies of varying sizes and industries, including automotive, ad tech, and retail. She provides research and counsel on compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act and federal privacy laws, regulations, and policies.

2015 Elizabeth Butler, Chicago, joined Elrod Friedman LLP, where she concentrates her practice in the areas of land use, zoning, entitlements, urban planning, public incentives, historic preservation, and economic development, as well as general real estate transactions. Ian M. Fleming, Longwood, Fla., was named general manager and director of soccer operations for the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Fleming, a veteran soccer professional with experience in law, strategy, and analytics, joins the Pride from the Houston Dynamo and Dash organization, where he most recently contributed to the Dash’s 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup title. Jared Reynolds, Chicago, announced the launch of the law firm RM Law Group LLC with Matthew C. McElwee ’16.

2016 Benjamin S. Van Airsdale, Wheaton, Ill., joined as an associate for Carter & Tani, a franchise and business law firm in Wheaton.

2019 Johnny D. Derogene, Washington, D.C., had his article on protecting workers’ rights and benefits published by the ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law. The article is titled “Does the Burden of Proof in ERISA Section 510 and ADEA Cases Need Recalibration?”

2020 Touline Elshafei, Naperville, Ill., joined Honigman LLP as an associate. Elshafei focuses on private equity, mergers and acquisitions, health care transactions, and general corporate matters. Jack Etchingham, Chicago, joined Sidley Austin LLP as a litigation associate. Etchingham focuses on commercial litigation and disputes, along with securities and shareholder litigation. Bridget M. Murphy, Chicago, joined Gutnicki LLP as an associate. Bryant Roby Jr., Chicago, joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. Roby defends professionals and corporations in a wide range of liability matters.

2017 Caitlin M. Ajax, Providence, R.I., joined the Conservation Law Foundation as a senior fellow, Farm and Food. Ajax assists in building a resilient, sustainable food economy in New England by helping local farmers and food entrepreneurs navigate complex legal and policy hurdles.



In Memoriam Joel Daly (’88) Joel Daly, a member of Chicago-Kent College of Law’s first National Trial Competition championship team and a legendary Chicago news broadcaster, died October 22, 2020, at the age of 86. Daly had a distinguished broadcast journalism career at WLS-TV (ABC 7 Chicago), winning five Emmys for his reporting and writing before retiring in 2005. He decided to attend law school at the age of 50. According to an obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daly took four years of night courses and two summer semesters, and often read his law books in the car while his wife, Sue, drove to their Wisconsin summer home. In 1988, the same year he graduated, Daly’s trial advocacy team became the first from Chicago-Kent to win a national title. Daly became a practicing trial lawyer with Corboy & Demetrio, was an adjunct professor at both Chicago-Kent and the former John Marshall Law School, and later in his career served as an information officer for the Federal District Court in Chicago. Daly was preceded in death by his wife and sons, Doug and Scott. In addition to his daughter, Kelly, Daly is survived by his sister, Viola Patrice Kraus, and granddaughters, Kate Scott Daly and Madison Daly.

Martin Chmura ’84 John R. Fox ’17 Deborah P. Frank ’01

Marsha C. Spak (’79) Marsha Spak, who for years served as president of Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Law School Association and dedicated much of her time to helping law school graduates pass the bar exam, passed away in February at the age of 78. Spak was valedictorian of her Chicago-Kent class of 1979. In 1992 she received the law school’s Distinguished Service Award. When Conviser Law Center opened, the Spakateria was named in honor of Marsha and Mike Spak in recognition of their generosity to the school. “Marsha was a mentor to hundreds of students. A caring and devoted mother. Generous with both time and financial support of many organizations including Chicago-Kent—a place that she loved. She will be missed,” says Peter J. Birnbaum, a member of the Chicago-Kent Board of Advisors and a friend of the family. According to her obituary in the Chicago Tribune, Spak was the loving mother of Adam, Erik, Derek, and Maymay; caring sister of Marilyn (the late Martin) Rosen and the late Rosalyn (Lawrence) Margulis; daughter of the late Sarah (Brownstein) and Abraham Chait; sister-in-law of the late Phyllis and Aaron Zaideman; and a dear friend of many. “Marsha was a delightful, energetic, and beautiful person who loved crossword puzzles, reading, and spending time with her loved ones,” the obituary added. “She will always be remembered for her laughter and loving nature.”

Georgette F. Garcia Kaufmann ’98 Kevin J. Huck ’73 Clifford W. La Belle ’64



Briana J. Mayes ’16 Thomas P. Moncada ’75 Barbara D. Salmeron ’79

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