Women’s Initiative

Introducing Our New Women's Initiative Committee Co-Chairs

Lewis Brisbois is delighted to announce the new co-Chairs of the Women’s Initiative Committee: New York Partner Cristina Yannucci, Providence Managing Partner Lauren Motola-Davis, and Los Angeles Partner Connie Fickel. These three exceptional attorneys take up the mantle from the outgoing co-Chairs, Los Angeles Managing Partner Jana Lubert and Chief Strategy Officer Janet Eskow. 

"Janet and I have been honored to build and grow our national Women's Initiative,” Jana said. “We know when it is time to pass the torch and have done so with a sense of awe, accomplishment, and unquestionable faith in the strength and commitment of our new chairs and our extraordinary Women’s Initiative Committee, as well as with the full support of our DEI leaders, our affinity groups, and the full partnership.” 

The three new co-Chairs expressed enthusiasm to continue their predecessors’ work. 

“'We rise by lifting others’ is what, in my opinion, perfectly encapsulates the work done by and the continued mission of the Women’s Initiative,” Cristina said. “I am grateful to our outgoing co-Chairs Jana Lubert and Janet Eskow for leading by example. With my new co-chairs, Lauren Motola-Davis and Connie Fickel, I am eager to use our platform to continue supporting women across the firm, advancing our shared and individual goals, developing new opportunities, and moving up together as a whole." 

"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this new role,” said Lauren. “As an avid yoga practitioner, I believe that the statement of the late Sally Kempton applies: 'The very art of yoga practice is ‘abyhasa’ – steady effort in the direction you want to go.' I look forward to working with my co-chairs to help move the Women’s Initiative and women across the firm into the future - a future that reflects our important values and objectives." 

“I’m so honored to take on this new role, alongside Lauren & Cristina - and in service to our talented and accomplished attorneys and staff,” said Connie. “Our ranks are filled with strong and powerful voices, and I hope to help empower, encourage, and support them as they strive to reach the loftiest of goals. As Maya Angelou once said, I love to see a woman ‘go out and grab life by the lapels.’”

Cristina is a national co-Chair of Lewis Brisbois' Professional Liability Practice. Her practice focuses on complex, high-profile professional liability litigation, including claims against attorneys, accountants, appraisers, real estate agents and brokers, title companies, real estate managers, insurance agents and brokers, and directors and officers. She also represents public entities and their employees in high-exposure professional liability litigation. Cristina serves as National Coordinating Counsel for several major insurer clients and directs the assignment of hundreds of professional liability matters nationwide. Her litigation management and client service have made Cristina a leader at our firm.

Lauren, who has served as Providence Managing Partner since 2015, is co-Chair of the firm's Workers’ Compensation Practice. She has decades of trial practice and civil litigation experience representing insurance companies, insureds, and self-insureds in a broad range of subject matters including admiralty, general liability employment discrimination, personal injury, and workers’ compensation matters. Lauren has handled hundreds of trials and depositions of expert witnesses in workers’ compensation matters, and has argued successfully before the Rhode Island Supreme Court several times.

Connie is co-Chair of the firm’s Professional Liability Practice and Chair of the firm’s Securities Litigation & FINRA Practice. She represents investment advisors, registered representatives, accountants, actuaries, ERISA fiduciaries, lawyers, directors and officers, and insurance agents and brokers. Connie has tried cases to verdict and decision in state and federal courts, as well as in FINRA arbitration. She has successfully defended claims involving a variety of alternative investments, annuities, options, and other investment products and strategies. Connie has also successfully defended cases across the country involving insurance agents and brokers in cases involving negligence, breach of contract, and misrepresentation with respect to the procurement of various insurance products. She also represents clients in civil and administrative enforcement actions.

Please join us in congratulating our new co-Chairs.


Lewis Brisbois Elevates Four Women to Equity Partnership  

Lewis Brisbois’ Women’s Initiative is delighted to announce the recent elevation of four women attorneys to equity partnership, adding to the firm’s strong roster of women in leadership roles: New York Partner Erin O’Leary, Portland Managing Partner Jennifer Oetter, Atlanta Partner Christine Tenley, and Fort Lauderdale Co-Managing Partner Cheryl Wilke. Women partners comprised 57% of the 2024 equity partner class.

Erin is a member of the General Liability and Professional Liability Practices. She has extensive experience defending high exposure construction and transportation matters, as well as malpractice claims against a variety of professionals. In addition to practicing in New York state, federal, and appellate courts, Erin has served as an adjunct professor at The City University of New York’s (CUNY) Lehman College. Erin stated that she is “thrilled that I have been promoted to equity partner in recognition of my contributions to the firm and our clients.” “I am grateful for my colleagues' trust and look forward to continuing to demonstrate my dedication to our clients," she said. "Most importantly, I am eager to collaborate with my fellow equity partners in our shared commitment to drive the firm's future growth and success."

Jennifer, who serves as a vice-chair of the Healthcare, Medical Malpractice, and Long-Term Care Practices, focuses on civil litigation involving hospitals and healthcare professionals. She has significant experience representing providers from a variety of medical specialties and is particularly skilled in unique issues related to birth injury and sepsis litigation. Jennifer, who also is a member of the firm’s National Trial Team, expressed enthusiasm about her elevation to equity partner, describing, "My experience at every level of this firm it that it is an amazing, smart, and hardworking group of people and lawyers.  I am proud and fortunate to be a part of Lewis Brisbois and humbled and excited for this new role. I am excited about our future and look forward to continuing to work with our wonderful clients and advancing Lewis Brisbois’ inclusive culture.”

Christine is a member of the Complex Business & Commercial Litigation, Labor & Employment, and Real Estate & Land Use Practices. With more than 23 years of national litigation, trial, class action, collective action, and appellate experience, she consistently resolves clients' difficult premises liability and workplace challenges. Christine also has handled investigation and administrative proceedings before federal and state government agencies. She explained that she is looking forward to serving in her new role, stating, "I am thrilled that I have been promoted to equity partner in recognition of my exceptional contributions to the firm and our clients. I am grateful for my colleagues' trust and confidence in me and for acknowledging my unwavering dedication to our clients. With my unique talents and experience, I am confident I will be critical in driving our firm's future growth and success."

Cheryl serves as a vice chair of the Labor & Employment Practice and as a member of the Complex Business & Commercial Litigation Practice. She has a wide range of commercial litigation experience in federal and state courts, and has developed strong proficiencies in employment law, government contractor compliance, and business litigation involving mid-market and national businesses. Cheryl splits her time between the firm’s Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles offices. In discussing her new leadership role, she noted, “Equity Partner at Lewis Brisbois is more than the hallmarks of partnership at all great firms. Every good firm looks to their equity partners to achieve the goals of drive, dedication, and expertise. But being an equity partner at Lewis Brisbois requires the added commitment to the firm’s unending culture of client service, kindness, and professionalism. I am very grateful to be a small patch in the diversity quilt that is Lewis Brisbois.” 

Please join us in congratulating these exceptional women attorneys on their achievement.

Lewis Brisbois Appoints Two Additional Women Attorneys to Management Committee, Bringing Total Number of Women Management Committee Members to Six 

Lewis Brisbois’ Women’s Initiative is thrilled to announce the appointment of two additional women attorneys to serve on the firm’s Management Committee: Newark Administrative Partner Malinda (“Mindy”) Miller and New York Administrative Partner Alecia Walters-Hinds. With these new appointments, six women now sit on the firm’s 15-member Management Committee, with Mindy and Alecia joining San Bernardino Partner Rima Badawiya, Minneapolis Managing Partner Michelle Gilboe, as well as Los Angeles Co-Managing Partners Jana Lubert and Kathleen Walker. The percentage of women attorneys on the committee now stands at 40%, up from 26%.

Mindy serves as a chair of the Healthcare, Medical Malpractice, and Long-Term Care Practices. With a depth of experience in the defense of long-term care and assisted living facilities, she is the preferred counsel for certain large, regional long-term care operators as well as many operators in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Mindy also regularly presents on issues in long-term care litigation and provides in-service training to management and staff of healthcare facilities. 

“I am so pleased to be joining Lewis Brisbois’ Management Committee,” Mindy said. “I look forward to contributing to the continued growth and success of the firm and to serving alongside my talented colleagues, including the five accomplished women leaders who sit on the committee.”

Alecia serves as a vice-chair of the General Liability Practice and as a member of the Healthcare and Medical Malpractice Practices. She also is a member of the firm’s National Trial Practice and the immediate past president of the New York City American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). Alecia successfully handles high exposure and catastrophic injuries that range from general liability to medical malpractice claims. She has tried over 100 cases and taken over 50 verdicts. 

“I am looking forward to serving on the Management Committee and helping to shape a bright future for Lewis Brisbois,” Alecia said. “This is truly a great and unexpected honor. I am happy to be joining such accomplished men and women who sit on the committee. It has been almost 13 years and there is no other place I would rather be.”

Rima serves as the firm’s chief diversity partner as well as a co-chair of the Healthcare Practice. Her civil trial practice focuses on the defense of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare and long-term care professionals and organizations. 

Michelle serves as a chair of the Life Sciences Practice and a vice-chair of the Complex Business & Commercial Litigation and Products Liability Practices. She is an experienced first-chair trial attorney with a national practice defending pharmaceutical, medical device, chemical products, industrial equipment, vehicle, food, and consumer goods manufacturers and suppliers. She has significant experience in complex class action and mass tort litigation. 

Jana is a chair of the Directors & Officers Coverage Practice and a member of the Insurance Law Practice.  Her practice focuses on insurance coverage matters, including the representation of insurance companies in litigation, arbitration, and mediation. She has over 30 years of legal experience and is significantly involved in the administration of the firm through her various leadership roles, including serving as Lewis Brisbois’ General Counsel.

Kathleen serves as a chair of the firm's Healthcare Practice. For more than 30 years, she has dedicated her practice to representing the interests of long-term care facilities as well as all types of care providers. As such, she is the designated preferred counsel for several national assisted living operators and many California nursing home operators. She also provides risk management support to a broad array of clients. 


The Lewis Brisbois Women’s Initiative was founded in 2009. Its purpose has been to augment the firm’s longstanding commitment to inclusion by identifying, elevating and thereby retaining female talent. We add our firm’s collective voice on women’s workplace issues to the voices of our clients, prospective clients, and communities-at-large in which we work and live.

The mission of the Initiative is to provide a collaborative environment by which unique professional opportunities are identified and pursued. The Initiative offers workshops, events, mentoring programs, and a foundational approach to open, productive communication with both women and men, all of which is dedicated to developing and providing professional and leadership opportunities for our female attorneys and staff. As a result, an increasing number of our female attorneys are at the forefront of the firm’s presence within the legal community nationwide, as well as the firm’s management.

The success of the Initiative’s efforts to cultivate and foster the growth and development of our female attorneys and staff is evidenced both by the number of female partners within the firm, and the number of women holding management and C-suite positions, including those as General Counsel, Management Committee members, Managing and Administrative Partners, Executive Marketing Committee Chairs, Chief Business Officer and Chief Administrative Officer. 


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