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Each year the ABA YLD awards a number of scholarships to encourage the participation of minority; solo/small firm; government, private sector, and military service attorneys in the Young Lawyers Division. This year we are excited to have these scholars involved with the YLD.
Syma Ahmad is a trial attorney in the Plan Benefits Security Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Syma represents the federal agency charged with protecting the integrity of employee benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. She also previously worked in the Department of Labor’s Boston Regional Solicitor’s Office. Syma has brought legal actions against employers in federal district courts as well as administrative law tribunals.
Prior to joining the Department of Labor, Syma practiced at Baker & McKenzie LLP where she represented international clients in commercial litigation and arbitration matters. While at Baker & McKenzie, Syma was a recipient of Pro Bono Service Awards in 2005 and 2006 in part for her successful Ninth Circuit appellate brief challenging a Board of Immigration Appeals removal order. She also previously practiced at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati PC where she represented Silicon Valley life sciences, technology and growth enterprises in corporate finance matters.
Syma is an active member in several bar associations and has held leadership positions with the Bay Area Association of Muslim Lawyers, the New England Muslim Bar Association and is the former Chair of the 2007 National Association of Muslim Lawyers and National Muslim Law Students Association conference. Syma is a member of the California and Massachusetts bars and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Jeffrey Y. Bennett is a solo practitioner in Kansas City, MO, practicing primarily in family and business immigration. He is licensed to practice in the State of Missouri and the United States District Court, Western District of Missouri. Jeffrey received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his Doctorate in Jurisprudence from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
Jeffrey Y. Bennett is currently an active member of the American Bar Association (ABA), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (KCMBA), the Asian American Bar Association of Kansas City (AABAKC), the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City, and KC Legal. Jeffrey also serves as a Missouri Notary Public and is part of the Volunteer Attorney Project for KC Legal Aid providing domestic relations legal counsel for victims of domestic violence. Before opening his law practice, Jeffrey worked as a law clerk for John Sommer, a probate attorney in Independence, Missouri; at Stinson, Morrison, Hecker LLP in Kansas City, Missouri; and at the DeBund Law Firm in Shanghai, China.
Jacob R. Brennan is an associate at Herman, Herman & Jolley, P.S., in Spokane, Washington, where his practice emphasizes in business, estate planning, bankruptcy, construction and real property law. After graduating from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, emphasis in finance, Jacob attended Gonzaga University School of Law. While attending Gonzaga, Jacob served as the Executive Editor of the Gonzaga Journal of International Law and worked at the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, among other activities. After graduating, Jacob was admitted to practice in Washington State, as well as the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. Jacob is currently serving a term as Treasurer of his local American Bar Association affiliate, the Spokane County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. In addition, he is involved in a number of legal and civic organizations, including TeamChild / Volunteers for Youth, the Spokane County Volunteer Lawyers Program, and has served as a volunteer attorney with the Spokane County Public Defender. He is the current chair of the WA Vets Will Clinic, a partnership between charitable, educational and government groups formed to provide free estate planning documents to veterans. Jacob enjoys spending his free time outdoors with his wife and their two dogs.
Kristian Collins - Tallahassee, FL
Government, Public Sector and Military
Ms. Collins is an Attorney Advisor with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR). In that capacity, she assists Administrative Law Judges in the adjudication of disability appeals. Before accepting this position, she worked with Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria, South Africa; the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI); and Georgia Legal Services. Ms. Collins received her J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law and is currently licensed to practice in both Alabama and Georgia. An avid traveler, she has visited and studied in Mozambique, South Africa, Mexico, Colombia and Panama.
Michelle Craig joined Adams and Reese in 2007 and serves on the Labor and Employment team. Her representative clients include schools, fast food companies, offshore companies, home improvement retailers, entrepreneurs and other small businesses.
In addition to her labor and employment experience, Michelle has practiced in the areas of commercial litigation and products liability. She has also represented large companies in claims such as breach of contract, warranty, fraud, failure to pay claims or make a tender, negligent misrepresentations and alter ego.
Michelle writes and provides client and attorney training on a variety of labor and employment issues. She served on the Board of Directors for the golf public private partnership First Tee of New Orleans 2009-2010. She is also actively involved in the firm’s efforts to promote diversity in all practice areas and the legal profession. She admires her parents, Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King, and entrepreneurs. She is an avid reader and loves art and artistic people.
Jasmin French is an Associate in the Business Group at Ice Miller LLP, a large regional firm with over 300 attorneys throughout the Midwest. Jasmin's primary areas of practice include mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions and general corporate matters. She has a unique professional background including experiences as a corporate transactional lawyer for DLA Piper, US LLP, one of the world’s largest law firms and a business analyst for Kimberly Clark, one of the world’s leading consumer packaged goods companies. She’s been fortunate enough to compliment her large law firm experience with in-house experience with DVD kiosk company, Redbox Automated Retail, LLC and a billion dollar electrical and metal products manufacturer. Jasmin is a graduate of Duke University and Vanderbilt University Law School. Her diverse leadership experiences include serving as a Diversity Fellow for the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, the Chair of the Young Professional Board of the Chicago Sinfonietta Orchestra and Young Alumni Member of the Duke University Trinity Board of Visitors. Jasmin currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Brandon Hudson is a staff attorney in the Baton Rouge office of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. As a member of the consumer law unit, he assists clients with a wide range of legal issues including bankruptcies, debt collection defense, land lord tenet law, foreclosures, successions, wills, and public benefit denials. He also performs outreach in East Baton Rouge Parish to increase awareness about common problems affecting the elderly and low income individuals. Brandon earned his Bachelor of Science from Louisiana State University in Information Systems and Decision Sciences. While at Louisiana State University, he was a member of the Black History Month Committee and the Martin Luther King Commemorative Committee. After graduating from LSU, he worked as an advisor to the Road Home Program. In his position with the Road Home Program, he worked diligently to resolve high priority Road Home claims and help Louisiana citizens obtain the funding necessary to rebuild after hurricane Katrina. In May of 2011, he received his Juris Doctorate from Tulane University Law School. While at Tulane University Law School, he was an active member in the Black Law Students Association and participated in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition. Further, he served as a managing editor on Tulane’s Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property and as a Student Attorney in Tulane’s Juvenile Litigation Clinic. Currently, Brandon is a member of the Louisiana Bar Association and the Baton Rouge Bar Association. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Kristina, son Christian and dog Godiva. He also likes to cook and watch his favorite sports teams, the LSU Tigers and New Orleans Saints.
Sarah joined Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A. as a law clerk in June of 2010 and was admitted to the Minnesota Bar in October of 2011. She was immediately associated with the firm upon her admission to practice. Prior to joining Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A., Ms. Jewell worked as a law clerk for Erstad & Riemer, P.A. in Bloomington, MN and worked for Thomson Reuters (Westlaw) in editorial operations. Ms. Jewell also worked as a summer law clerk for local attorney Stephen Gabrielson and worked as a staff member at Hughes Mathews, P.A.
Ms. Jewell was honored on the Dean’s List twice in 2009-2010 and was selected to compete in the McGee Moot Court Competition held at the University of Minnesota. In addition to earning her J.D., Ms. Jewell obtained a Certificate in Advocacy and Problem Solving from Hamline’s Dispute Resolution Institute. Hamline’s Dispute Resolution Institute is currently ranked in the top five of such programs in the nation.
Ms. Jewell is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s New Lawyers Division Outreach Committee, as well as the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. Ms. Jewell serves on the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Rural & Agricultural Law Section Council planning Continuing Legal Education seminars.
Ms. Jewell practices in the areas of real estate, rural and agricultural law, workers’ compensation, personal injury, social security disability, and business law. Ms. Jewell resides on a hobby farm and enjoys horseback riding, running, traveling and spending time with family & friends.
Courtney T. Joiner is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe where he received a B.A. degree in December 2002 and a M.A. degree in May 2004. He received his J.D. degree in 2007 from Southern University Law Center where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Southern University Law Review. After graduation from law school, his legal career began at Sidley Austin LLP where he represented banks in structured finance, asset securitization and secured lending transactions. Courtney is currently an associate with the law firm of Hammonds, Sills, Adkins and Guice, LLP where he represents school boards, public municipalities and corporations in the areas of labor and employment, workers’ compensation and complex civil litigation. Courtney is licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Illinois.
In 2007, Courtney founded Project P.R.O.O.F., which provides creative arts training to at-risk and mentally challenged youth. He also serves on the Executive Board of the University of Louisiana at Monroe Athletic Foundation and as the Vice-President of the Rayville Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
David Lee Morrow II is a Staff Attorney with BuckleySandler LLP in Washington, DC. Mr. Morrow assists clients in the financial services industry, primarily in litigation, regulatory, and compliance matters. Mr. Morrow is licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina and the District of Columbia. He received his B.A. from Elon University in 2007, where he was a Presidential Scholar and a NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Herbert Lehman Scholar. Mr. Morrow received his J.D. from Elon University School of Law in 2010, where he was a NAACP LDF Earl Warren Scholar and Elon Scholar. Additionally, he was President of the Black Law Students Association and member of the Native American Law Students Association and Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. During law school, he clerked for the Honorable Patricia Timmons-Goodson of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Honorable James Wynn of the North Carolina Court of Appeals (now on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit). Following law school, Mr. Morrow worked for the Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Professionally, he is the current Treasurer of the Young Lawyers Division of the Washington Bar Association, a member of the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, North Carolina Bar Association, and the Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is a tribal member of the Occaneechi Tribe of the Saponi Nation. Lastly, he is an active member of Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington DC.
Samantha (Sam) Noonan is an associate in the Seattle office of Williams Kastner. Her experience includes a range of practice areas including commercial litigation, labor and employment, international and hospitality law. Sam graduated from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. She earned her J.D., cum laude, from Seattle University School of Law where she served as an Associate Editor of the Seattle University Law Review and President of the Womens Law Caucus. Prior to her legal career, Sam served as an officer in the United States Navy aboard a guided missile destroyer and deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Following active duty, she was employed as a manager at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. Sam currently serves on the boards of the Asian Bar Association of Washington and the Seafair Foundation. She also volunteers her time as a pro bono attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP).
Tommy Preston , Jr. – Columbia, SC
Tommy Preston, Jr. graduated from the University of South Carolina (USC) School of Law and is an associate at Nexsen Pruet, LLC in the firm’s Economic Development and Public Policy groups. Tommy regularly represents businesses and professionals on legislative and regulatory matters before local and state governmental entities and administrative courts.
Prior to and during law school, Tommy worked as the Special Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations at USC. In this position, Tommy was a university liaison to local, state, and national governments and developed and monitored the university’s various partnerships in the community and across the state.
While in law school, Tommy was the Law Student Division Representative on the ABA Board of Governors. He was the first person of color to serve in this national position. While in this role, Tommy led the successful effort to get the ABA House of Delegates to change the ABA constitution to make the Student Representative a voting member of the Board.
Tommy continues to stay involved in bar associations at the local, state, and national levels. At the state level, Tommy is a member of the SC Bar Legal Education Committee and served on the Member Involvement Task Force. In the ABA, Tommy is the Co-Chair of the YLD Law Student Outreach Committee (LSOC) and has been the Liaison to the ABA Task Force for the Preservation of the Justice System for the past two years. Additionally, ABA President Laurel Bellows appointed Tommy to serve on the ABA Standing Committee on Membership (SCOM). He is also involved in a number of sections including the Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice and the State and Local Government Law sections.
Tommy is also involved in numerous statewide and national groups including being the incoming President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Association.
He earned his undergraduate degree from USC and served as Student Body President and the student member on the Board of Trustees.
Tommy and his wife, Felicia, who is also an attorney, live in Columbia, SC.
Mike Redondo is an associate with Holland & Knight’s Litigation Practice Group and a member of the securities litigation team. He has experience in both federal and state court, including federal and state securities litigation, regulatory investigations, class action litigation, and complex international commercial disputes. Mr. Redondo is also actively involved in the American Bar Association and the Young Lawyers Division in particular, serving as the Vice Chair for the Minorities in the Profession Committee. Mr. Redondo is also involved locally in the Cuban American Bar Association and the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section.
Schuyler Smith was born in Mandeville, Jamaica. Schuyler received her JD in 2009 from St. Thomas University School of Law. Schuyler received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science with upper second class honors from The University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica in 2006. While in law school, Schuyler was a member of the St. Thomas Intercultural Human Rights Law Review, as well as the law school’s Moot Court and Mock Trial teams. Schuyler also served as an intern to the Honorable Chief Judge David Gersten of the Third District Court of Appeal. Schuyler is now in her third year of practice at the law firm of Lydecker Diaz. Ms. Smith practices in the areas of Commercial Litigation, Directors and Officers Liability, Professional Liability, and Insurance Coverage Litigation. Prior to joining Lydecker Diaz, Schuyler worked as a civil prosecutor for the Florida Department of Children and Families where she prosecuted parents who abused, abandoned, and/or neglected their children. Schuyler is also active in the community. She currently serves as Director of the Dade County Bar Young Lawyers Section, as a 11th Circuit Representative on the Board of Governors for the Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar, and as President of the Caribbean Bar Association. Schuyler also volunteers as a Guardian Ad Litem, representing children in Injunction for Protection Cases in both domestic violence and sexual violence civil proceedings.
Rosezetta E. Upshaw - Los Angeles, CA
Rosezetta E. Upshaw is the youngest trial lawyer at the nonprofit law firm, Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, Inc. She is responsible for an annual caseload of over 230 cases and is dedicated to reunifying families. Rosezetta’s desire to serve the community has driven her entire legal career. While earning her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, Rosezetta served as Attorney General of the study body and volunteered at two legal clinics, where her work earned her an award for professionalism and attention to detail. While earning her Juris Doctorate from the University of Southern California, Rosezetta served as the President of the Black Law Students Association and the Director of Community Service for the entire graduate student body. Rosezetta’s passion for community advocacy has earned her formal recognition from the United States House of Representatives and the California State Legislature. Her extensive service background includes mentoring developmentally challenged youth, speaking to incarcerated minors about pursuing higher education, providing music education in public schools, and founding HipHop Without Borders, a nonprofit organization takes underprivileged youth on cultural exchanges in Cuba and Brazil to provide empowerment through arts and education. Rosezetta is the youngest Officer serving on the 2012-2013 Board of Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, Inc. She is also an active member of the John M. Langston Bar Association and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. In her spare time, Rosezetta volunteers at First A.M.E. Church Legal Clinic and Brookins A.M.E. Church Legal Clinic.
Ashleigh Wilson is an Assistant Attorney General at the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. As an attorney in the Post-Conviction Relief Section, she represents the State in civil actions brought by convicted persons collaterally attacking their convictions. Ashleigh began her career as a judicial law clerk in Greenville, South Carolina for South Carolina’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy in 2008 from Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC and her Juris Doctor in 2011 from Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston-Salem, NC. While in law school, Ashleigh worked for Collins & Lacy, P.C. and the South Carolina Education Lottery. She also worked as a Student Clinician at the Wake Forest University Community Law and Business Clinic where she assisted small businesses and entrepreneurs with business entity formation and contract drafting. As an Ameri-Corp NC Acts Fellow, Ashleigh spent 300 hours successfully representing North Carolina residents facing foreclosure. During the fellowship, she assisted homeowners with the submission of loan modification applications through the Making Home Affordable Program and traditional bank loan modification programs. She also co-authored a handbook on Foreclosure Defense for law students and laypersons. She is admitted to practice law in South Carolina and is an active member of the South Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. In her spare time she enjoys reading, playing tennis, and cooking.