Martin Gould, Chair
Martin D. Gould is a Partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC where he works in the firm’s complex litigation and catastrophic injury group, representing individuals and classes of victims in wrongful death, toxic exposure, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, auto and trucking accidents, construction and other workplace accidents, sexual abuse, including priest abuse, product defect, and airline crashes. Martin graduated toward the top of his class from Chicago-Kent College of Law, cum laude, and was a published member of theChicago-Kent Law Review. Currently, Martin holds leadership positions within numerous legal organizations, including serving as a Junior Council Member of Child USA and serving as a Co-Chair of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association’s Young Lawyers Division. Martin earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Northwestern University, where he was also a four-year member of the Northwestern Varsity Wrestling Team. The team placed 4th in the NCAAs Martin’s sophomore year in 2007.
Kenneth Matuszewski, First Vice Chair
Kenneth A. Matuszewski is a registered Patent Attorney and Associate at Goldberg Segalla with a background across several technical backgrounds, including the life sciences, software, electrical, and mechanical technologies. His practice focuses on complex and high-value intellectual property litigation in federal district court and before the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Kenny leverages his experience working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to early-stage startups to obtain favorable outcomes during litigation and while drafting and prosecuting patent applications. Representative technologies he has worked on include gaming technologies, cancer treatments, blockchain, opioid treatments, medical devices, microphones, drones, gene therapies, pollution control technologies, and power tools.
He has been recognized early in his career for his leadership and writing, including the American Bar Association’s On The Rise: Top 40 Young Lawyers Award, and the Top Emerging IP Player Award from IPR Gorilla Conference. He has also been selected to Super Lawyers' Rising Stars List since 2021, which is awarded to less than 2% of all attorneys under the age of 40 in Illinois. Recently, Patexia ranked Kenneth #12 among the Most Active and Best Performing Patent Litigators in both 2022 and 2023 for Plaintiff Activity out of 14,685 patent litigators across the country.
Previously, he co-founded, and continues to co-chair, the Young Lawyers Section's Racial Justice Coalition, and served as the first Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning @theBar blog. The YLS has recognized Kenneth for his efforts over the years by honoring him with all 4 awards that YLS members are eligible to receive. A firm believer that learning is a lifelong process, Kenny graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from Oregon State University. Previously, he double-majored in Biological Sciences and Spanish at the University of Notre Dame and earned his J.D. at Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Gavin Phelps, Second Vice Chair
Gavin Phelps, CIPP/US primarily practices business transactional law serving as outside general counsel for his clients. He also helps with business succession planning, privacy law, insurance coverage, and real estate closings. He has worked with start-ups, nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies. Gavin received his J.D. from Notre Dame Law School in 2016.
Alexander Passo, Secretary/Treasurer and Public Services Manager
As a seasoned litigator, Alexander Passo appreciates that positive outcomes in business disputes often come down to thorough preparation, a readiness to take matters to trial, and the ability to adjust approaches to address new facts or developments. Concentrating his practice in complex commercial litigation, Alex represents clients in matters involving internal business disputes, breach of contract, fraud, emergency business litigation, unfair competition, and professional negligence. He tailors his strategies to each client's unique circumstances and objectives, with accessibility, transparency, and a fierce commitment to achieving their goals being hallmarks of how he practices law.
Kernisha Padilla, Member Services Manager
Kernisha Padilla is a conflicts attorney at Latham & Watkins. She also has a passion in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs flourish and grow through proper legal representation. Kernisha is a native of North Carolina who relocated to Chicago in 2015. Prior to relocating Kernisha served as managing partner of Gilbert & Rivera, PC and as an adjunct professor at UNC- Charlotte. She is chair of the YLS Women in the Law Committee; and received the YLS’ Rising Star Award for Leaders with Exceptional Promise in 2021.
Stephanie Moon, Project Officer
Stephanie Moon is an associate at Armstrong Teasdale, LLP in the firm’s Litigation practice group, focusing on a variety of legal matters, including professional liability, shareholder disputes, cannabis and employment. She represents clients in a variety of industries and business sectors in both federal and state courts. Stephanie was previously a trial lawyer at Novack and Macey in Chicago. While at Novack and Macey, Stephanie focused her practice on legal malpractice matters and commercial litigation. During that time, she co-authored over a dozen blog posts for the firm’s Illinois Legal Malpractice and Defense of Lawyers blog.
Stephanie started her legal career in litigation for a national law firm where she worked on civil rights class actions and authored appellate briefs for the US. Court of Appeals for Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Her experience also included contract disputes, product liability cases, negligence and nursing home defense work. While in law school, Stephanie served as a judicial extern for the Hon. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason in the U.S. Northern District of Illinois. In that role, she primarily conducted research on federal acts and regulations, as well as legal precedent, to draft summary judgment opinions.
Aleksandra Petrovic, Project Officer
Aleksandra Petrovic is an associate attorney at Damisch & Damisch, Ltd. She represents Plaintiff's in a variety of Civil Litigation matters including personal injury, premises liability, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death. Aleksandra has also assisted her clients and other attorneys nationwide with ERISA subrogation negotiation on both a state and federal level. Aleksandra has received a Certificate of Excellence from the Office of the Cook County Treasurer for her commitment and dedication to the Serbian American community through her participation with the Serbian Bar Association of America. She also received the Rising Star Award from the YLS in 2020. Aleksandra graduated from Lake Forest College with a bachelors in Economics and Philosophy and earned her J.D. from Tulane University Law School. In the past she has spent time working with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings General Counsel helping the City of Chicago modernize it's crane, masonry, and trade regulation codes. She also had an externship with the New Orleans City Attorney's Office assisting on various Federal Civil Litigation cases and spent two summers with a 711 License at the Cook County Public Defender's Office where she defended and won a Felony Bench Trial.
Jacob Berger, Co-Editor-in-Chief of YLS Journal
Jake is an associate at Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC, practicing primarily in the area of the commercial litigation in various state and federal courts throughout the country. Jake has extensive experience in all aspects of the litigation process, including pre-suit investigation and development, e-discovery, depositions, trials, and appeals. He also regularly counsels many different types of clients, from startups to well-established leaders in their respective industries, on issues such as business formation, risk management, and employment issues. As a result of Jake’s strong commitment to pro bono work and to serving the Bar, Jake received the 2022 Excellence in Pro Bono Award from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Jake is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin (2009), where he doubled majored in Political Science and International Studies: International Political Economy, matriculated with honors, and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He is also a proud graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law (2014), where Jake graduated near the top of his class with magna cum laude honors, was inducted into the Order of the Coif, and served on the executive boards of both the Chicago-Kent Law Review and the Chicago-Kent Moot Court Honors Society.
Nikki Marcotte, Co-Editor-in-Chief of YLS Journal
Nikki Marcotte is an associate who specializes in complex commercial litigation, employment litigation, and government investigations. She has represented clients in a wide-range of issues including, but not limited to, product liability defense, employment discrimination and wrongful termination defense, white collar defense and government investigations, breach of contract issues, business torts, toxic torts, and mortgage disputes. Nikki is no stranger to the litigation process as she has extensive experience at the initial pleadings phase, in all aspects of discovery and e-discovery, successfully drafting and arguing dispositive motions, and throughout the appeals process.
Before joining Tabet DiVito & Rothstein, Nikki served as a judicial clerk on the Kansas Supreme Court for the Honorable Melissa T. Standridge. She also served then-Judge Standridge on the Kansas Court of Appeals prior to that. Right out of law school, Nikki was a general litigation associate at a large firm in Kansas City, Missouri for two years. There, she largely focused her practice on white collar criminal defense work, government investigations and compliance, employment defense, and other various complex commercial litigation matters. Nikki is also passionate about pro bono work and devotes much of her pro bono practice to postconviction and civil rights matters. This passion stems from her time in law school where she served as Student Director for the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Postconviction Remedies and at her previous firm where she worked with the Midwest Innocence Project on multiple cases involving wrongfully convicted individuals.
Brian Bentrup, Co-Editor in Chief of the @theBar Blog
Brian M. Bentrup is a Senior Associate at Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee, Ltd. He concentrates his practice in Estates and Trusts, specifically focusing on the areas of estate planning, probate and trust administration, and guardianships of minors and disabled adults. Brian also devotes a portion of his practice to commercial real estate. Brian graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law (formerly The John Marshall Law School). Brian has been on the Young Lawyer’s Section’s Steering Committee since 2020 and served as Assistant Editor. Brian also co-authored a chapter in the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Asset Protection Planning Smartbook (2022 Edition) entitled Drafting Considerations for Trusts, which focused on asset protection and trustee discretion. Prior to law school, Brian attended Loyola University Chicago where he triple majored in political science, economics and psychology.
Teresa Dettloff, Co-Editor in Chief of the @theBar Blog
Teresa practices law in Chicago, Illinois and graduated magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She competed on both the Vis and Uvaldo Herrera moot court teams and served as a lead article editor on the Loyola University Chicago School of Law Journal. She previously interned at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Daniel Berkowitz, Immediate Past Chair
Daniel Berkowitz is a Member with Aronberg Goldgehn. He focuses his practice on representing insurers in complex insurance coverage litigation arising under general liability, director and officer, and professional liability policies. He also handles matters involving claims of bad faith and provides strategic counseling to clients regarding potential liability and strategies for handling underlying liability matters. He is actively involved in a number of CBA Committees including the CBA Record Editorial Board, the Strategic Planning Committee, and the 150th Anniversary Committee.