Up, Up and Away

by | Nov 2, 2017

It’s not unusual for lawyers to practice in fields where they have relevant professional experience, education or personal interests.

Take Cozen O’Connor Associate Jennifer Urban. An associate in the firm’s Transportation and Trade practice, Urban recently passed the Federal Aviation Administration’s aeronautical knowledge test and earned a Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems license, allowing her to operate drones for commercial purposes.

But it’s not because she aspires to become a professional drone operator. “The license gives me the background and technical knowledge to better understand the complexities of drone operations and the steps clients need to take to ensure their drone operations comply with FAA regulations,” Urban says.

By Urban earning her remote pilot’s license, Cozen O’Connor became one of the few firms whose Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)/Drones group includes a drone attorney who holds this license.

Urban attended the University of Mississippi, ultimately earning four degrees from the school. Her Ole Miss bachelors was followed by an MBA. While attending business school, Urban met the head of the university’s LL.M. in Air and Space Law program – one of only three such programs in the world. She had the opportunity to conduct international aviation law research for the program director, and realized that aviation law would be a unique focus for her law degree. Once she completed her MBA, she quickly followed it with a JD and then an LL.M., for which her thesis focused on drones.

The remote pilot license then followed shortly after joining Cozen O’Connor.


As drone technology has become more affordable and the business community has become better educated about potential uses of drones, regulation of commercial drone operations has increased and business has grown for law firms such as Cozen O’Connor that have drone law practices.

Commercial use of drones is expanding. Drones are now used in a variety of industries, including photography, real estate energy, maritime, and public utilities for diverse purposes, such as the inspection and surveillance of critical infrastructure.

Cozen O’Connor’s drone attorneys advise clients who want to conduct commercial drone operations outside of the current regulations on how to secure waivers from the FAA.

“A waiver allows the operator to conduct a drone operation that does not comply with the FAA regulations,” Urban says. “For example, the FAA has granted waivers that permit nighttime operations and operations that go beyond the visual line of sight of the operator.” Waivers are also necessary for commercial operators who want to fly the drone over a crowd of people, such as at a sporting event.

Cozen O’Connor’s drone practice includes advising on the use of anti-drone technologies, which can help exclude unauthorized drone operations from certain locations, such as over prisons or around airports. Companies might use anti-drone technology, for example, to keep competitors from using drones for intelligence gathering purposes over private projects. Anti-drone technology was reportedly used during last year’s presidential election, presumably to stop drones from illegally flying over campaign-related events.

Being part of a small but growing practice area at a firm like Cozen O’Connor, which earns high marks for associate satisfaction, has given Urban opportunities she might not be afforded in a larger practice or at another firm. For example, Urban authors the practice’s newsletter, The Drone Report.

“[Aviation partners] David Heffernan and Mark Atwood, and [Aviation regulatory specialist] Ken Hines are amazing mentors,” Urban says. “They are very supportive of associate development and … the partners provide me with opportunities to directly work with clients, publish, and speak at conferences.”

Although Urban is  based in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office, and the District of Columbia is officially a “No Drone Zone,” she has found other ways to practice her drone operating skills, such as by flying her drone indoors or attending industry events that allow her to learn to operate different types of drones.


Awards & Recognitions

Current Locke Lord partner and former managing partner Harriet Miers, who also previously served as counsel to the President of the United States, has been chosen as the recipient of the Texas Appleseed 2017 J. Chrys Dougherty Good Apple Award.

A number of women law firm lawyers have been honored with the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award: Dawn Belt, partner, Fenwick & West; Betty Chen, principal, Fish & Richardson; Lisa Fontenot, partner, Gibson Dunn; Emily Johnson Henn, partner and chair of global class action litigation practice group, Covington & Burling; Julie Holloway, partner, Latham and Watkins; Ruby H. Kazi, partner, McManis Faulkner; Stacy E. Kray, counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Victoria Lee, partner, DLA Piper; Larissa Neumann, tax partner, Fenwick & West; Laura Palazzolo, senior attorney, Berliner Cohen, and dean, Lincoln Law School; Zaitun Poonja, partner, Morgan Lewis; Tamara B. Pow, partner and CEO, Strategy Law; Maria Sendra, partner, Greenberg Traurig; and Sarah Solum, partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Tracy Gerber, West Palm Beach co-managing shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, and Hildy Sastre, partner at Shook, Hardy & Bacon were named to South Florida Business Journal’s list of 2017 Influential Business Women.

The African-American Managing Partners Network has honored McGuireWoods Partner Ava Lias-Booker as its “Managing Partner of the Year,” recognizing the six years she led the firm’s Baltimore office.

Sidley Austin Partner Ellyce R. Cooper was featured on the front cover of the ABA Journal’s October issue in connection with an article “Leading Law Firms for Women.” Cooper is a member of the firm’s commercial litigation and disputes practice, resident in the Century City office.

Mayer Brown Partner Lori Lightfoot, who is resident in the firm’s Chicago office, has been named 2017 Champion of Public Interest by The Business and Professional People for the Public Interest and has received the Walter J. Cummings Award for Pro Bono Service by the Federal Bar Association’s Chicago chapter. In addition, Partner Elizabeth (Liz) Espín Stern has been named 2017 “Global Mobility Professional of the Year” at the Forum for Expatriate Management’s (FEM) 8th annual Americas Expatriate Management & Mobility Awards.

Jamie Gorelick, who is a partner at WilmerHale, has been honored with a Founders Award at the Tahirih Justice Center’s 20 Year Anniversary Gala in Washington, D.C.

San Francisco Business Times has named Mary A. Collins, partner, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Alicia J. Donahue, chair of the pharmaceutical and medical device litigation practice, Shook, Hardy & Bacon; Meredith Jones-McKeown, partner, Sheppard Mullin; Leslie R. Katz, shareholder, Greenberg Traurig; Nancy Lundeen, partner, Allen Matkins; Natalie Pierce, co-chair of the robotic, AI and automation industry group, Littler; Roxane A. Polidora, managing partner, Pillsbury San Francisco office and leader of the antitrust and competition practice; and Stephanie A. Sheridan, office managing partner, Sedgwick to its list of the 2017 Most Influential Women in Business.

The Washington, D.C., chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) has named Holland & Knight Partner Janis Schiff as the 2017 recipient of its Corporate Leadership Award.

The Center for Victims of Torture has presented its annual 2017 Eclipse Award to Reed Smith Pro Bono Counsel Jayne Fleming.

Indiana Lawyer has honored Martha Starkey, a partner with Harrison & Moberly, as a Distinguished Barrister at the 2017 Leadership in Law Awards. Women recognized as Up and Coming Lawyers included Jenai Brackett, senior associate, Frost Brown Todd; Kayla Britton, associate, Faegre Baker Daniels; Caitlin Byczko, associate, Barnes & Thornburg; Amy Cornell, of counsel at Bose McKinney & Evans and second vice president at Bose Public Affairs Group; Trisha Dudlo, associate, Bamberger Foreman Oswald & Hahn ; Shelbie Byers Luna, associate, Drewry Simmons Vornehm; and Lauren Sorrell, senior associate, Krieg DeVault.

Orrick Partner Lorraine McGowen has received Legal Outreach’s Pipeline to Diversity Champion Award. In addition, Orrick Partner Christina Von der Ahe Rayburn has received the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service by the American Inns of Court for her work challenging California’s Proposition 66, which would expedite the state’s death penalty process. She and Associate Lillian Mao were similarly honored for the Proposition 66 work by Death Penalty Focus.

Goodwin Partner Elaine Blais has received the Boston Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award.

The National LGBT Bar Association has recognized a number of women law firm lawyers as Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40. They are: Sally Abrahamson, associate, Outten & Golden; Angie Gambone, associate, Flaster Greenberg; Abbey Hudson, associate, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Diana Kruze, partner, Morrison Foerster; Merritt McAlister, partner, King & Spalding; Jill Mullins; owner, Justice & Equality Legal Services; Emily Oldshue, associate, Ropes & Gray;

Betsy Plevan, a partner at Proskauer Rose, has been honored with the Third Annual James Duane Award, which is presented by the Bench and Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF has named Willkie Farr & Gallagher Partner Maria-Leticia Ossa Daza one of its 2017 “Latina Trailblazer” honorees.

M.C. Sungaila, a partner at Haynes and Boone, has been named Attorney of the Year by the Orange County Women Lawyers Association. Sungaila was also recently honored as a recipient of the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, an award bestowed by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations in recognition of her many accomplishments in the legal field and inspired service to the country.

Fox Rothschild Partner Bridget La Rosa has been awarded the City Bar Justice Center’s 2017 Jeremy G. Epstein Award for Pro Bono Service. The City Bar Justice Center is the pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher Partner Mary Eaton has received the Federal Bar Council’s Thurgood Marshall Award for Exceptional Pro Bono Service.

The National Law Journal has named several women law firm partners as Energy & Environmental Trailblazers. They are: Elizabeth Cabraser, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein; Kirstin E. Gibbs, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Rachel Jacobson, WilmerHale; Anne Samuels Kenney, Jenner & Block; Christine LaFollette, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Linda R. Larson, Nossaman; Andrianne Payson, DLA Piper; Britt K. Strottman, Meyers Nave; and Allison A. Torrence, Jenner & Block.

Gemma Descoteaux, a shareholder in Polsinelli’s Dallas office, has been named Outstanding Director by the Dallas Women Lawyers Association (DWLA).

The National Law Journal has named several women law firm partners as Divorce, Trusts & Estates Trailblazers. They are: Karina Alomar, Alomar & Associates; Susan T. Bart, Sidley Austin; Margaret Canby and Caroline Krauss-Browne, Blank Rome; Jean Gordon Carter, McGuireWoods; Elaine Colavito, Sahn Ward Coschignano; Lisa Cukier, Burns & Levinson; Lynne Z. Gold-Bikin, Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby; Barbara R. Grayson, Jenner & Block; Evie P. Jeang, Ideal Legal Group; Michele A.W. McKinnon, McGuireWoods; Michele M. Mulrooney, Venable; Judith L. Poller, Pryor Cashman; Valentina Shaknes, McLaughlin & Stern; Amanda Trigg, Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich & Trigg; Gabrielle A. Vidal, Loeb & Loeb; Kimberly Whaley, WEL Partners; the Hon. Cynthia D. Wright, Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle; Lisa R. Zonder, Zonder Family Law; and Laura Zwicker, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger.

The National Law Journal has named several women law firm partners as Intellectual Property Trailblazers. They are: Sarah Chapin Columbia, McDermott, Will & Emery; Dianne Elderkin, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Diane Kruze, Morrison & Foerster; Victoria Lee, DLA Piper; Caroline Mankey, Sedgwick; Kathleen McCarthy, King & Spaulding; and Krista S. Schwartz, Jones Day.

Locke Lord Partner and the Immediate Past President of the American Bar Association Paulette Brown addressed the 2017 convocations for the University of Tennessee College of Law and the DePaul University College of Law, where she also received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Crain’s Chicago Business has published its list of the most influential women lawyers in the city. They include Kathryn Kovitz Arnold, Taft Stettinius & Hollister; Nicole Nehama Auerbach, Valorem Law Group; Ellen M. Babbitt, Franczek Radelet; Rebecca Weinstein Bacon, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott; Laurel G. Bellows,  The Bellows Law Group; Cathy Birkeland, Latham & Watkins; Mary Clare Bonaccorsi, Polsinelli;  Susan Capra, Clifford Law Offices; Christina Conlin, Baker McKenzie; Faye Feinstein, Quarles & Brady; Tacy Flint, Sidley Austin; Amy Gibson, Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa; Margaret A. Gibson, Kirkland & Ellis; Mary Vidal Hays, Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa; Anne Geraghty Helms, DLA Piper; Beth Herrington, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Joni Jacobsen, Dechert; Michelle Kantor, McDonald Hopkins; Kari Hoelting Kaplan, Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa; Jennifer Kenedy, Locke Lord; Sarah F. King, Clifford Law Offices; Marcelle R. Kott, Berger Schatz; Andrea Kramer, McDermott Will & Emery; Lori Lightfoot, Mayer Brown; Margaret Manetti, Codilis & Associates; Amy Manning, McGuireWoods; Terri Mascherin, Jenner & Block; Maura Ann McBreen, Baker McKenzie; Kristin Barnette McCarthy, Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz; Beth F. McCormack, Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli Swerdlove; Shannon M. McNulty, Clifford Law Offices; Tricia Meyer, Meyer Law; Julie Miceli, Husch Blackwell; Katherine Minarik, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott; Kerryann Haase Minton, Michael Best; Anne W. Mitchell, Rooney Rippie & Ratnaswamy; Linda Myers, Kirkland & Ellis; Margo Wolf O’Donnell, Vedder Price; Camille A. Olson, Seyfarth Shaw; Nancy Olson, Skadden; Elizabeth Perdue, Holland & Knight; Kristen E. Prinz, The Prinz Law Firm; Elizabeth Raymond, Mayer Brown; Zora Ristanovic, Berger Schatz; Martha A. Sabol, Greenberg Traurig; Daliah Saper, Saper Law Offices; Stephanie Scharf, Scharf Banks Marmor; Sally J. Scott, Franczek Radelet; Kimberly T. Smith, Katten Muchin Rosenman; Leslie Smith, Kirkland & Ellis; Cindy Sobel, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott; Catherine L. Steege, Jenner & Block; Morgan L. Stogsdill, Beermann Pritikin Mirabelli Swerdlove; Rhonda Thomas, Thompson Coburn; Olivia Tyrrell, Baker McKenzie; Sheri E. Warsh, Levenfeld Pearlstein; Anna Wermuth, Cozen O’Connor; and Lauren Wolven, Levenfeld Pearlstein.

The Recorder has published its list of 2017 Women Leaders in Tech Law. They include Christa Anderson, Keker, Van Nest & Peters; Megan Baca, Ropes & Gray; Colleen Bal, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Karen Ballack, Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Dawn Belt, Fenwick & West; Barbara Borden, Cooley; Cynthia Cole, Baker Botts; Diane Doolittle, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Daralyn Durie, Durie Tangri; Jennifer Fitchen and Sharon Flanagan, Sidley Austin; Pamela Fulmer, Fulmer Ware; Lisa Glasser, Irell & Manella; Judith Hasko, Latham & Watkins; Lynne Hermle, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Heidi Keefe, Cooley; Jennifer Kelly and Catherine Kevane, Fenwick & West; Lisa Kobialka, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel; Jamie Leigh, Cooley; Allison Leopold Tilley, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke, Munger, Tolles & Olson; Sonali Maitra, Durie Tangri; Gina Marek, Gunderson Dettmer; Victoria Maroulis, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Katharine Martin, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Stewart McDowell, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Rachael Meny, Keker, Van Nest & Peters; Ann Marie Mortimer, Hunton & Williams; Karin Pagnanelli, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp; Catherine Polizzi, Morrison & Foerster; Sasha Rao, Maynard Cooper & Gale; Ingrid Rechtin, Covington & Burling; Rosemarie Ring, Munger, Tolles & Olson; Jessica Valenzuela Santamaria, Cooley; Krista Schwartz, Jones Day; Antonia Sequeira, Fenwick & West; Stefani Shanberg, Morrison & Foerster; Julie Shepard, Jenner & Block; Luann Simmons, O’Melveny & Myers; Stephanie Skaff, Farella Braun + Martel; Sarah Solum, Davis Polk & Wardwell; Kalpana Srinivasan, Susman Godfrey; Lorna Tanner, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton; and Karen Webb, Fenwick & West.

In connection with its Litigation Department of the Year awards, The Recorder has named Juanita Brooks of Fish & Richardson and Clara Shin of Covington & Burling as Game Changers. Separately, Brooks has been inducted into the California State Bar Litigation Section’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.

Chambers & Partners has honored a number of women at its Women in Law Awards. Law firm honorees included Antonia E. Stolper, Americas regional managing partner at Shearman & Sterling, who was honored for Lifetime Achievement For Furthering Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession. Susan G. Esserman, partner at Steptoe & Johnson, won Outstanding Contribution to Advancing Gender Diversity in the Legal Profession. Elia Diaz-Yaeger, shareholder at Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard, was awarded Future Leader – Gender Diversity. Rebecca C. Alexander, partner at Baker & Hostetler, was recognized as Inspiring Role Model in Promoting Gender Diversity in the Legal Profession.


Sally Davies has been appointed for a five-year term to serve as London senior partner at Mayer Brown. She was also recently elected to the firm’s global partnership board.

Littler Shareholder Danielle K. Herring has been named to co-chair the ERISA and benefit plan litigation practice group, and Shareholder Yvette V. Gatling has been named to co-chair the firm’s healthcare industry group. Both women are resident in the Houston office.

Colette A. Dafoe has been named managing partner of Nixon Peabody’s Washington, D.C., office. In addition, Keri McWilliams has been selected to co-lead the firm’s franchise practice. She is also resident in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

Hunton & Williams has appointed Partner Amanda L. Wait to lead its competition and consumer protection practice. Wait is resident in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

M.C. Sungaila, a partner at Haynes and Boone, has been appointed to a three-year term on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the American Judicial System’s Subcommittee on Federal Courts. In addition, she has been elected to a three-year term on the Orange County Bar Association Board of Directors, following a yearlong term as an appointed director-at-large.

Fox Rothschild has appointed Eleanor Vaida Gerhards as co-chair of its nationwide franchising, licensing and distribution practice group and Elizabeth Litten as co-chair of its national privacy and data security practice. Gerhards is a partner in the firm’s Warrington, Penn., office. Litten is a partner in the Princeton office and also serves as the firm’s HIPAA privacy and security officer. In addition, Partner Barbara R. Flacker has been appointed to the board of trustees of the Milton & Betty Katz JCC, in Cherry Hill, N.J., and to the board of directors of Hillel at Drexel University. Partner Jacqueline G. Segal has been elected to the board of directors of The Power of Professional WoMen (POWER). Partner Stephanie B. Fineman has been appointed to the Philadelphia Theatre Company board of directors. Partner Lori Landew has been named to the Greater Philadelphia Film Office board of directors for a three-year term.

Shareholder Michelle Clardy Dobbs has been named to the newly-created position of national director of pro bono services and assistant general counsel at Polsinelli. Mary Clare Bonaccorsi has been named managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office. She also chairs the firm’s health care litigation practice.

Alva Mather has been named co-leader of Pepper Hamilton’s newly formed cannabis industry group. In addition, Nina M. Gussack, the chair of the firm’s health sciences department, has been named to the board of directors of Life Sciences Pennsylvania. Both women are partners based in Philadelphia. Kay Standridge Kress, a corporate restructuring and bankruptcy partner with Pepper Hamilton’s Detroit office, has been appointed chair of the Bankruptcy Court Structure and Insolvency Process Committee of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section for the 2017-2020 term.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo has named Rebecca A. Lee as chair of the firm’s real estate development practice and Jennifer Kiely as co-head of the firm’s real estate section. Both women are Boston-based. In addition, Member Elissa Flynn-Poppey has been appointed to the bipartisan Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Judicial Nominations led by United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey.

Locke Lord has named Dallas Partner Cynthia Timms to chair the firm’s appellate practice group.

Deborah Minkoff, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Global Insurance department, has been re-appointed to serve on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women.

Jackson Lewis has named Tressi Cordaro as co-leader of the firm’s workplace safety and health practice group and Joanne Braddock Lambert as Orlando office managing principal. Cordaro is a principal in the firm based in its Washington, D.C., regional office.

Baker Botts has named Samantha Crispin as chair of the firm’s technology sector committee and Mollie Duckworth as Austin office managing partner.

Susan Bernstein has been appointed chair of the Internal Revenue Service’s Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities. Bernstein is special counsel at Schulte Roth & Zabel, resident in the New York office.

Locke Lord Partner Gail McCann, who is resident in the firm’s Providence office, has been elected as chair of the Grow Smart Rhode Island (Grow Smart RI) Board of Directors.

  1. Jeanine Conley, a shareholder in the Philadelphia and New York offices of Littler, has been appointed chair of the New York Urban League board of directors.

Greenberg Traurig Shareholder Angelika Hunnefeld has been appointed to The Florida Bar International Law Certification Committee. In addition, Lori Smith-Lalla, who is of counsel, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of ArtServe.

Anna-Liza Harris, co-head of Katten Muchin Rosenman’s structured finance and securitization practice, has joined the board of directors for the Structured Finance Industry Group (SFIG).

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton Partner Sarah Lowe has been elected to the St. Andrews-Sewanee School Board of Trustees for the term of 2017 – 2020, and Partner Mary Craig Calkins has been named managing director designate of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation for the 2017-2018 Bar Year.

Barbara Werther has been named president of the Construction Lawyers Society of America. She is a partner in Troutman Sanders’ Construction practice practicing in the Washington, D.C., office.

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith Partner Lauren D. Godfrey has been named the vice chair of the Cybersecurity and Data Privacy General Committee for the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section. She is based in the firm’s Pittsburgh office.


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