Top Latino Lawyers 2016

Creo en mi/ I believe in me: What makes an Attorney Latino Leader


Story By: Steve Penhollow



What makes an attorney Latino Leader? This is a question I am frequently asked. It is also a question I am happy to answer. There are many factors to be considered, and no one exact definition rings perfect. However, a leader is a person who holds the skills and ability to lead or guide other individuals, teams, or entire communities and/or organizations.

For a Latino/a attorney, such a leader also holds within him or her a strong belief in oneself, in others around them, in justice, and the rule of law. These individuals and leaders all have a dream in their heart which makes the work they do on a day-to-day basis worth the effort, and makes our community and our country better places. But I will point out that it is OK if others don’t believe in your dream. Don’t let that deter you. A dream for a better Latino community and a better world will only come for those leaders that have the confidence in themselves, the business opportunities to involve others around them, and the desire to help others and make an impact in the community, while always giving back. An attorney Latino Leader is a philanthropist.

The list of this year’s attorney Latino Leaders exemplifies these factors.

As an example, you will find leaders that were the first to go to college in their family, the first to go to law school, the first Latino/a hired at their firm or their legal department, the first Latino/a owner or partner of their firm, and without question national leaders.

Each attorney Latino Leader is making a real impact in their respective communities. And as our Hispanic population continues to grow in our country, so should the key leaders who are Latino/a. All that one has to do is believe in oneself... “creo en mi”! Thus, when we do our work, when we use all of our efforts, when we push through old boundaries and glass ceilings, the rewards and satisfactions are great. And the rewards are sweeter because they have been earned. - Benny Agosto Jr.



Member - Gray Reed and McGraw, P.C. 


Complex Commercial Litigation

Adrogué handles complex commercial litigation and multi-party proceedings in state and federal courts as well as in ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) proceedings throughout the United States and abroad. She represents clients in all industries. She has been honored by numerous publications and organizations, including Texas Lawyer, Houston Woman Magazine, H Texas Magazine, Talento Bilingue De Houston, the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber, the National Diversity Council, and the Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation. In July 2004, the city of Houston honored Adrogué with a “Sofia Adrogué Day.”




Partner, Abraham Watkins Nichols Sorrels Agosto & Aziz


Workplace Accidents, Birth Injuries, Product Defects

Agosto has served as Hispanic National Bar Association national president and continues to advocate for Hispanics in regard to the fair and equitable administration of justice. Agosto is the founder of the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas (MABATx) Foundation. He built the foundation to benefit young, Hispanic, Houston-area law students through scholarships. He is the president and co-founder of the HNBA’s Legal Education Fund, which raises money for minority scholarships. Agosto is also an advocate for gender fairness.



Co-Chairman, Greenberg Traurig

Miami, FL

Corporate and Securities

Alvarez is a senior chairman of Greenberg Traurig. He previously served as the firm’s executive chairman for more than three years and as its CEO for 13 years. During his tenure as CEO, he directed the firm’s growth from 325 lawyers in eight offices to approximately 1,850 attorneys and government professionals in more than 36 locations across the globe. Greenberg Traurig has been recognized as the fastest-growing law firm in the United States and one of the top 10 law firms in the country.



Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Los Angeles

Domestic and International Project Development and Project Finance

Barajas’ emphasis is on Latin American infrastructure projects, debt financings, and mergers and acquisitions. He represents lenders, investors and developers in the financing of a wide range of domestic and international projects in the energy, power, infrastructure and commercial sectors, as well as in traditional banking, structured finance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, asset finance, joint ventures and venture capital transactions. Barajas has worked on transactions in the U.S. and Latin America. He is a member of the Los Angeles office’s diversity committee.




Partner, Steptoe & Johnson

Washington, D.C.

Complex Litigation, Global Anti-Corruption Matters, and Internal Investigations

Benitez has litigated cases in federal and state trial and appellate courts around the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a past president of the DC Bar, the second largest unified bar in the country. Benitez draws on more than 20 years of experience representing clients in high-stakes, complex litigation and arbitration matters. She conducts internal investigations before enforcement agencies relating to a variety of sensitive and business-critical issues. She has also served as Chief of the Office of Institutional Integrity of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).



Partner, Fox Rothschild

Los Angeles

Employment Law

Gallegos is focused on employment matters, including advising and litigating on behalf of companies of all sizes, including Fortune 500 companies, in areas such as restrictive covenants, wage and work-hour law (including class actions), discrimination and harassment, executive employment agreements and separations, leaves of absence, and reductions in force. She also performs wage and hour audits and provides employers with training (in English or Spanish) on preventing sexual harassment, employment law for workplace managers and supervisors, wage and workhour compliance, and on the interplay between state and federal leaves of absence.



Partner, Corporate, Brown Rudnick LLP


Corporate, Cross-Border/ International Transactions, Venture Capital

Garcia’s practice is focused on corporate and international business. His extensive experience includes financings, private equity, securities, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, investments, restructurings and contractual arrangements in the U.S. and around the world. Garcia has spent a substantial portion of his over 40 years of practice dealing with various types of situations involving international business in countries other than the United States. He has been honored by Legal Eagle and Latinvex, among many other organizations and publications. In March 2016, he was named one of the best lawyers in New England by the Wall Street Journal.




Founder, Gonzalez Law LLC

Phoenix, Arizona

Bankruptcy, Corporate & Transactional, Litigation

Gonzalez’s practice handles litigation for major companies, government entities and new ventures. His legal experience is centered around employment related matters and economic inclusion issues affecting transactions, real estate and client business. He actively supports the private sector and has previously conferred with a U.S. presidential candidate as well as other political leaders. He has been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell, Bar and Judiciary and honored by the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee. He is co-founder of National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF).



Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins

Tampa, Florida

Employment Law, Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets

Garcia’s focus is on representing employers with their labor and employment needs. He has defended both individual and collective actions under numerous state and federal employment laws. Garcia has also defended employment related torts such as defamation, negligent retention, negligent hiring, assault, battery and fraud, as well as breach of contract claims. He regularly advises employers on numerous day-to-day matters related to their employees. Garcia is fluent in Spanish and has been a speaker at numerous human resources and legal conferences throughout Florida.



Shareholder, Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A.

Lake Worth, Florida

Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Catastrophic Injury

Gonzalez has litigated cases throughout Florida on behalf of injured clients. Her practice specializes in personal injury, wrongful death, and catastrophic injury cases arising from automobile accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, product defects, and slips and falls. Over her career, her cases have resulted in more than $25 million in settlements for her clients. Gonzalez is a Broward Hispanic Bar Association Bravo Award recipient and has frequently been named a Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star. She is active in her local community, providing necessities to underprivileged children in Lake Worth Elementary Schools.



Senior Attorney

Gonzalez Olivieri LLC


Immigration, Naturalization, Litigation

Gonzalez is a senior litigator at Gonzalez Olivieri LLC. He handles immigration hearings across the U.S., including Puerto Rico, in the federal district and appellate courts. He has been featured in Who’s Who in American Immigration Law, and Who’s Who in America and has been covered by major cable news channels and national newspapers. He is a frequent speaker on immigration and an avid supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. Gonzalez has been honored by H Texas Magazine and Texas Monthly.




Founder, Managing Partner, Hernández & Associates, P.C.

Denver, Colorado

Criminal Defense, Immigration Law

Hernández has emerged as the leading Latino immigration and criminal defense lawyer in Colorado. His law practice includes “crimmigration” cases, a blend of immigration removal defense and criminal defense. Hernández is the elected President of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and has served for the past two years as chairman of the National Hispanic Bar Association’s Immigration Committee. He has been named a Colorado Super Lawyers Rising Star for three years and was named a 5280 Top Lawyer in 2017.



Founder, The Herrera Law Firm

San Antonio, Texas

Personal Injury

Herrera is a longtime advocate for personal injury and accident victims. He also dedicates countless hours of his time, financial resources, and legal expertise to causes he believes in strongly, such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the New American Alliance, the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association and Central Catholic High School. Herrera has served as chairman of the board for the New America Alliance and Valiente International Ventures. He’s also considered an innovator in utilizing courtroom technology in trials.



Partner, Cooper & Dunham LLP

New York

Intellectual Property Litigation

Maldonado specializes in intellectual property litigation and also has experience in obtaining U.S. utility and design patents, as well as trademark and copyright protection. He has negotiated and drafted major intellectual property licensing agreements. Maldonado is a fellow in the Trial Lawyer Honorary Society of The Litigation Counsel of America. He has been honored by El Diario La Prensa, the largest and oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in New York City and the oldest Spanish-language daily in the United States. He was regional president of the Hispanic National Bar Association in 2013.



Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP

Washington, D.C.

Corporate and Securities

Herrera concentrates on international matters, with a particular emphasis on international corporate and financing transactions in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has been involved in transactions in every Latin American country and many in the Caribbean on behalf of a wide variety of clients, including private, public, and multilateral entities. Herrera is knowledgeable in deal structures, procedural requirements and policy directives of agency lenders. He is often called on to resolve client disputes throughout Latin America and has experience in international arbitration matters.



Partner, Chair, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP


Retirement Plans

Leon counsels employers in the manufacturing, education, defense, IT, and food and beverage industries on the design, establishment and maintenance of retirement plans. His work has ensured that more than 150,000 workers across the country can meet their retirement needs. He has been honored as a Recognized Practitioner, Employee Benefits & Compensation, by Chambers USA. Various publications have sought his insight regarding employee benefits matters. Leon has implemented various diversity initiatives at Michael Best and currently serves as the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair.



Partner and Co-Chair, International Trade Group, Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP

Dallas and Houston

International Import and Export Regulations

Manzanares is an experienced international trade and compliance partner who advises clients on U.S. and international regulations governing the import and export of goods, technology and services. She advises clients across numerous industry sectors, including aerospace, automotive, explosives, firearms, chemicals, military training, electronics, oil and gas, and software and technology. Manzanares frequently appears before the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. State Department. She sits on the firm’s business development and hiring committees.




Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

San Francisco

Products Liability, Consumer Class Actions, Constitutional Law, Employment Law

Martinez handles complex disputes in many areas, including products liability, consumer class actions, constitutional law, employment law, real estate and commercial litigation. He worked on the team that represented a major foreign automobile manufacturer before the U.S. Supreme Court and he has also argued cases before the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. His class action experience includes representing foreign manufacturers, chemical companies, technology companies, utilities and banks.




Partner, Mauro Lilling Naparty LLP

Woodbury, N.Y.

Appeals and Litigation Strategy

Since joining Mauro Lilling Naparty, Montes has handled many appeals in state and federal courts. His specializes in malpractice, construction law, employment law, general negligence, toxic tort, punitive damages, and product liability. He has helped spearhead the firm’s national growth as specialty counsel on damages in catastrophic injury cases. Montes is a frequent lecturer and has been published extensively. He has received awards from Long Island Business News, the Hispanic Bar Association and other organizations and publications.



Partner, Vantage Law Group

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Commercial Real Estate, Retail and Office Leasing

Nuñez is recognized for his ability to successfully handle complex, high-visibility projects, for his creativity in business matters and for facilitating successful business transactions. He has negotiated and closed hundreds of acquisitions, dispositions and leases. Prior to coming to Vantage, Nuñez spent 20 successful years with Target Corporation. At Target, he negotiated and managed over $5 billion in real estate developments, including economic incentive packages. He has served as regional president for the Hispanic National Bar Association and Governor Mark Dayton appointed him to the Minnesota Election Integrity Task Force.




Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP

Washington, D.C.

Lender Liability & Other Banking Financial Institution Litigation

Morillo co-chairs the White Collar and Corporate Investigations Practice in Washington, D.C. His practice focuses on criminal defense and civil litigation for major financial institutions, Fortune 500 companies and foreign governments. Morillo represents clients in cases largely involving accounting, financial, securities and tax fraud, bribery and antitrust. He has appeared on many national news channels and has been quoted in many national publications. Morillo’s practice has been honored by Global Investigations Review and Law360. In 2017, Morillo will publish a treatise on international criminal white collar practice.




Partner, McDermott Will & Emery


Conflicts of Interest—Health, Security Incident Response and Breach Notification

Neuman’s focus is on regulatory compliance matters affecting the health care industry. She represents tax-exempt hospitals and health systems, academic medical centers, physician group practices, health insurers, medical device and pharmaceutical companies, as well as a variety of other organizations in their health care transactions. She serves as a member of the firm’s Diversity/Inclusion Committee and the Racial & Ethnic Diversity & Inclusion Sub- Committee. Her current pro bono practice focuses on advocating for children with special education needs on cases received primarily through the National Medical-Legal Partnership and the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts.




Chair of Michael Best’s Higher Education Industry Group

Founder and Co-Chair of Michael Best’s Immigration Law Practice.

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Immigration Law

Olivieri’s expertise in U.S. immigration law includes immigration status, permanent labor certification, national interest waiver, adjustment of status, consular processing, citizenship and naturalization and I-9 compliance. Olivieri also counsels colleges and universities on issues including governance, Title IX, student discipline, and labor contract administration. He has been recognized for excellence by Chambers USA since 2008 and he received the 2016 Executive Leadership Award from the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee. He has served as Board President of Milwaukee’s United Community Center and Board Vice President of Carroll University.




Founder and Managing Partner Reyes Browne Reilley


Personal Injury, Business Contract Litigation, Mortgage Default, Complex Pharmaceutical Litigation, Business Tort Litigation

Reyes started on Wall Street but ended up in Dallas, where he opened what would become a highly respected personal injury law firm. He has helped thousands of people recover hundreds of millions of dollars from big insurance companies and big corporations. Reyes is a Managing Principal of Cambria Investment Management, Inc., and is on the board of directors for the Alta Verde Group, a privately owned real estate fund. Reyes is often quoted by national newspapers and periodicals and appears on national television and radio shows.




Partner, Reed Smith


International Arbitration, Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Rivero is Co-Practice Leader of Reed Smith’s International Arbitration Group and Global Co-Chair of the firm’s Latin America Business Team. He has extensive experience in all phases of the international dispute cycle. He has advised clients around the world in complex commercial, commodities, construction, energy, mining, oil and gas, and joint venture disputes. Rivero serves as Houston Co-Chair of the Firm’s Diversity Committee and has overseen and participated in dozens of asylum cases through the Human Rights Initiative (HRI).




Partner, Munck Wilson Mandala


Copyrights, Intellectual Property, Patents

In addition to being an intellectual property attorney and managing partner of Munck Wilson Mandala’s Austin Office, Rodriguez is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves and has received numerous commendations for his active duty service in Iraq and Afghanistan. At Munck Wilson Mandala, Rodriguez represents businesses in the construction, electronics, retail, restaurant, telecommunications, pet-care, vehicle manufacturing, and energy industries. Munck Wilson Mandala is a technology focused law firm with an emphasis on patent, trade secret, trademark and other intellectual property disputes.




Trial Lawyer, Partner, Hogan Lovells

Denver, Colorado

Drug and Device Manufacturers, Product Liability

Rodriguez handles cases across several industries, including those involving drug and device manufacturers, product liability, the false claims act, government investigations and commercial matters. She has served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Civil Division in the District of Colorado. She was also appointed as a member of the U.S. Attorney General’s Civil Chiefs’ working group. Rodriguez has served in the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for the Department of Justice and she provided assistance to then-Attorney General Janet Reno.



Founding Partner, Roman Law


Mediation, Real Estate, Estate Planning

Roman is a licensed industrial/organizational psychologist in Puerto Rico and a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. She is also a certified mediator and strongly believes in the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve legal matters. In 2012, she co-founded The Latina Circle, a non-profit social venture focused on developing Latina executive leaders in Boston. In 2016, she was appointed as National Co-Chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Latina Commission. She has been recognized as an American Bar Foundation Fellow.




Managing Partner, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud &Romo

Cerritos, California

School Districts, County Offices of Education, Labor & Employment

Romo is one of the founding partners of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo and works out of the Cerritos and Pasadena offices. He specializes in collective bargaining, contract administration, employee discipline proceedings, and defending employee discrimination claims. Romo represents public employers in all aspects of labor relations and employment law. Romo has extensive experience handling proceedings before the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, Public Employment Relations Board, and Office of Administrative Hearings.




Partner, Drinker Biddle


Mergers and Acquisitions, Venture Capital and Private Equity Investments

Ruiz counsels clients on business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity investments. He also represents them in equity and debt offerings, financings, the purchase and sale of assets from bankruptcy estates, and a variety of commercial transactions. Ruiz counsels public and privately held companies and entrepreneurs on strategic initiatives and transactions. In 2016, Jesse became the president of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners. He currently serves as a member of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.




Partner, Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP.


Product and Professional Liability, Civil Rights

Sanchez is the founder and managing partner of Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP. He is a highly accomplished trial lawyer, specializing in complex product and professional liability, employment law, civil rights and toxic tort defense (when the plaintiff has been exposed to a dangerous substance). He has been the lead counsel and has successfully tried to verdict more than 75 cases in the Midwest and South. Sanchez has received three gubernatorial appointments and was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.




CEO & Founder, Disan LLP

Washington, D.C.

Latin America, Arbitration, Litigation

Sanchez, who has represented Latin American states and global clients in high-profile cases involving dispute resolution, has made a commitment to the advancement of women in law and working for a gender-balanced workforce in the legal industry. Her firm has received a Chambers & Partners award for Outstanding Firm for Furthering Women’s Advancement and she has been honored by Latinvex and the Hispanic National Bar Association. Sanchez started her own non-profit organization called The Mazo Foundation to provide free legal services to low-income individuals and start-ups from Latin America.




Principal, Jackson Lewis P.C.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Miami

Employment Discrimination, Wage and Hour Counseling and Litigation

Torres-Díaz has successfully defended employers in Florida and Puerto Rico in all types of courts and administrative hearings before local and federal agencies. He also serves as President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and writes articles on legal developments in Puerto Rico for numerous publications. Torres-Díaz has extensive trial experience before both federal and local courts and administrative forums in Puerto Rico and Florida. He has successfully defended employers in all types of administrative hearings before local and federal agencies.




Co-Founding Partner, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP

New York

Affirmative Litigation and Recovery, Antitrust Litigation, Banking and Capital Markets Litigation, Commercial Litigation

Torres is one of the nation’s top lawyers for the prosecution of antitrust and other complex commercial cases. He has represented major U.S. and foreign corporations in a broad range of cases in federal and state courts. He has prosecuted and defended cases before domestic and international arbitration tribunals. Torres was appointed and served as a member of Governor George Pataki’s New York State Judicial Screening Committee for the First Department from 2002 to 2006. He was honored by National Law Journal as a 2015 “Litigation Trailblazer.”


Founding Partner, Vela | Wood P.C.


Startups, Corporate Law, Capital Raises, Investment Funds, and Real Estate Investments

Vela serves as general counsel for a number of businesses. He regularly advises on corporate governance matters, private fund formations and M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activities. In recent years, he has represented both startups and investors in over $100 million in seed, angel and venture investment opportunities. He has been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star numerous times in recent years and was honored by D Magazine. He is a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow, an honor granted to 1/3 of 1 percent of Texas attorneys.




Partner, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP


Complex Commercial Litigation

Zack is a former president of the American Bar Association. He was the first Hispanic American named to the ABA Presidency. Zack was also the first and youngest Hispanic American named as president of the Florida Bar. Mr. Zack’s main practice as a civil trial lawyer consists of products liability, complex commercial litigation, international law, and voting rights. President Obama nominated him for the position of alternate U.S. Representative to the 68th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Zack has also served as senior advisor to the U.S. State Department.


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Founding Shareholder, Elliott Greenleaf

Wilmington, Delaware

Commercial Litigation, Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights 

Zahralddin-Aravena is a Shareholder, Director, and Practice Chair. He founded the Elliott Greenleaf Delaware office in 2007, which specializes in business law, as its first Managing Shareholder. He works as a litigator and advises businesses on issues of compliance, corporate formation, corporate governance, insolvency, distressed mergers and acquisitions, commercial transactions, cyber law, and cross border issues.

    He has served as special litigation counsel in Washington Mutual, the largest bank insolvency in U.S. history; secured a settlement of more than $50 million for the permanently disabled former employees of Nortel; and received the 2014 Large Company Transaction of the Year Award from the TMA, for his work in the sale of the U.S. and China assets of a publicly traded company.