Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman is thrilled to announce the promotion of several outstanding associates to Senior Counsel. These exemplary attorneys have demonstrated their first-class legal skills and case handling in consistently contributing to the success of the firm as well as achieving favorable outcomes for clients.
WSHB is proud to announce the following new Senior Counsel: Joseph Aguirre (Alabama), Ahllam Berri (Orange County), Keith Bostwick (New Jersey), S. Joanna Dyriam (Thousand Oaks), Danielle Ebel (Los Angeles), Zachary Fletcher (Chicago), Bahareh Habibi (Northern California), Caroline Hopkins (Portland), Lee Jeansonne (Tampa), Brendan Johnson (New Jersey), R. Daniel Knuth (Tampa), Fationa Mamo (New York), Andrew Morgan (Northern California), Hannah Motsenbocker (Dallas), Anthony Ortiz (Orange County), Rudolf Petrosyan (Glendale), Jeffery Rowe (Atlanta), Melissa Saracyan (Los Angeles), Michael Simpson (Denver), Courtney Swartz (New York), Alexis Schuler (San Diego), Molly Wilcox (White Plains), Matthew Williams (Northern California), and Sara Wright (Las Vegas).
Joseph Aguirre: Joseph Aguirre is senior counsel in WSHB’s Mobile, Alabama office. He litigates first and third party insurance claims and counsels clients through pre-suit coverage issues. His experience includes defending insured parties in catastrophic injury, wrongful death, products liability, and toxic tort lawsuits. He also represents carriers through declaratory actions, coverage disputes and accusations of bad faith. Joseph is licensed to practice law in Alabama, Florida, and Massachusetts.
Ahllam Berri: Ahllam Berri is senior counsel in WSHB's Orange County office where she focuses her practice on Labor and Employment. She represents employers of all sizes in single-plaintiff employee litigation, wage and hour class actions, and Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) actions, in addition to counseling clients on employment issues. Ahllam is also experienced in handling business litigation and commercial disputes. Previously, Ahllam served as a judicial extern to the Hon. Jay C. Gandhi in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and to the Hon. Victoria Roberts in the Eastern District of Michigan.
Keith Bostwick: Keith Bostwick is senior counsel in WSHB's New Jersey office. His practice focuses primarily on civil litigation defense, specializing in the areas of transportation liability, professional liability, products liability, premises liability, employment litigation, complex construction defect litigation, and insurance coverage disputes. Keith has extensive experience involving all types of transportation cases, including those involving large commercial vehicles and automobiles utilizing ride-sharing platforms. His clients have included New Jersey's largest employer, New Jersey’s largest auto insurer, the world's largest smartphone manufacturer, and one of the world’s largest ride-share transportation network companies. During law school, he served as a judicial intern to the Hon. Bonnie J. Mizdol, A.J.S.C. for the Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County and as a student attorney for the Rutgers Child Advocacy Clinic representing underprivileged and abused and neglected children of the Greater Newark area. After graduating, Keith served as judicial law clerk to the Hon. Alvaro L. Iglesias, J.S.C. (Ret.) for the Superior Court of New Jersey, Hudson County. Since entering private practice, Keith has focused his practice primarily in civil litigation defense, first as an in-house trial attorney for New Jersey's largest auto insurer, as well as numerous nationwide litigation law firms. Keith is well-versed in all aspects of civil litigation in both state and federal court having tried numerous cases to jury verdict with excellent results for his clients.
Joanna Dyriam: Joanna Dyriam is senior counsel in WSHB's Thousand Oaks office. Born and raised in Singapore, she was educated in the Sciences and Mathematics, including Physics, Chemistry and Advanced Mathematics. An astute and versatile lawyer, Joanna is well-regarded for her success in handling complex civil litigation. Her practice is focused on professional liability, tort and transportation litigation. This diversified skill set provides rich dividends for the matters she handles which involve all aspects of general liability and employment issues. Her forte she brings to every matter handled is a laser-like, surgical approach to targeted discovery focused at securing key evidence required to resolve the most complex cases. This approach has allowed Joanna to successfully resolve matters through dispositive motions and efficient settlement conferences. Joanna brings her international background to the firm’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Task Force where she is a passionate and proactive advocate. Joanna is licensed to practice in all California state courts and the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Danielle Ebel: Danielle Ebel is senior counsel in WSHB's Los Angeles office where she focuses her practice on complex civil litigation matters, including construction, insurance, and general liability and casualty. During law school, she served on the boards of the Tax Law Society and Family and Dependency Law Society as well as serving as an advocate for the Children’s Rights Clinic and a fellow of the Negotiation Honors Program.
Zachary Fletcher: Zachary Fletcher is based in the firm’s Chicago office. Zack's practice focuses on civil litigation, including the defense of transportation, construction, and catastrophic injury claims as well as the defense of complex local public entity, municipality, and labor and employment litigation. His past experience includes the defense and trial of catastrophic injury cases, many of which as counsel on excess policies of insurance, arising from automobile and truck collisions, construction-site and premises incidents, as well as defense of complex commercial contracts, products liability, breach of warranty, and medical malpractice.
Bahareh Habibi: Senior counsel in WSHB’s Northern California office, Bahareh Habibi litigates major cases for corporations and public entities in claims involving construction defect, catastrophic injury and employment practices. She defends individuals, businesses and public entities in allegations of negligence, wrongful death and premises liability. Her work also includes defending employers in the full spectrum of employment matters, including discrimination, retaliation, FEHA, and wrongful discharge claims. She provides valuable advice and counsel to her clients as it relates to disciplinary action, policy development, employment investigations, and onboarding and offboarding of employees. Always looking to give back, Bahareh has previously served as a fundraiser/treasurer for the Iranian American Bar Association Orange County Chapter and as a student director while attending law school. She also served as the Lt. Governor of Diversity for the American Bar Association Law Student Division, 9th Circuit.
Caroline Hopkins: Caroline Hopkins is senior counsel at WSHB’s Portland office where she handles complex litigation, including catastrophic injury, products liability, transportation matters and a wide variety of complex tort matters. Caroline is a cum laude graduate of California Western School of Law, where she was an editor and writer for California Western Law Review. She received her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies, with a major focus in English and a minor focus in Creative Writing, from the University of California, Riverside.
Lee Jeansonne: Lee Jeansonne is a litigation attorney handling matters throughout Florida. Based in the Tampa office, he is an active member of the firm’s construction group. Prior to joining WSHB, Lee was a special counsel with an international law firm in their construction litigation practice group, focusing on construction defect litigation. Lee was also an Assistant Public Defender in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. In his time at the Public Defender’s Office, he managed an average caseload of 150 cases and gained extensive courtroom experience including appearances in nine separate divisions and trying numerous cases to jury trials and verdict. He credits this experience with his comfort and prowess in navigating all aspects of nuance in litigated matters.
Brendan Johnson: Brendan Johnson is senior counsel in WSHB’s New Jersey office, where his practice focuses on professional liability, complex tort and commercial litigation. He also enjoys a wealth of experience handling construction litigation in addition to trampoline park and recreational facility defense. While in law school, Brendan served as a research fellow for the Center for Social Justice. It was at this time that Brendan traveled to Guantanamo Bay where he both observed and reported on detainee trials. Additionally, he served as symposium editor for the Legislative Journal and as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Peter F. Bariso Jr. A.J.S.C. in the New Jersey Superior Court.
Daniel Knuth: Daniel Knuth is senior counsel in WSHB’s Tampa office. He is experienced in litigating an array of complex cases, including those involving medical malpractice, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, and all facets of automobile accidents, premises liability, and products liability. Utilizing his well-honed skills and drawing upon his extensive litigation experience, Daniel now devotes his time to effectively represent a wide range of WSHB clients. With experience practicing law on both the defense and plaintiff side of personal injury prior to joining WSHB, Daniel brings a unique perspective allowing him to better defend and advise his corporate clients. A cum laude graduate of Stetson University College of Law, Daniel earned the book award in Advanced Legal Research, Legislation and Trial Advocacy. Daniel was also the recipient of the Victor O. Wehle Award in Trial Advocacy. He served as a teacher’s assistant for Civil Procedure and was an editor for an international law and policy journal. As an undergraduate, Daniel attended Florida State University. He also earned his Master’s degree from the University of Florida.
Fationa Mamo: Fationa Mamo is senior counsel in WSHB’s New York office, where she specializes in defending complex civil litigation matters. Fationa’s practice extends to a broad spectrum of matters including complex labor law, catastrophic injury, high-exposure property damage as well as premises liability and insurance coverage cases. Fationa believes that the foundation of a skilled litigator is through effective communication, beginning with the client. She prides herself in being able to provide the most effective legal services to her clients by taking the time to break down complex legal issues and provide sound advice, in order to reach the most successful resolution. Fationa is a graduate of Pace University School of Law. She is a member of the New York State Bar and is pending admission in New Jersey. During law school, Fationa was an active participant of the Moot Court Mock Trial Team and served as a volunteer to victims of domestic violence.
Andrew Morgan: Andrew Morgan is senior counsel in WSHB's Northern California office. His practice focuses on complex construction defect litigation, appellate law, and business litigation. Andrew defends general contractors, developers, and design professionals in complex construction defect cases. He is thoroughly familiar and experienced in all aspects of these disputes, including their often complex insurance coverage issues, related breach of contract and defense and indemnity claims, and defect claims arising from violations of building standards in Civil Code sections 895 et seq. (“SB800” or “Right to Repair Act”). His representation of builders resulted in the elimination of negligence and product liability causes of action for homeowners and expanded the conditions under which builders may assert their right to repair homes before being sued. Andrew is also a speaker at national construction defect conferences. Andrew also has significant appellate experience. He has successfully handled numerous appeals from orders made in civil proceedings and from orders made by administrative agencies. He obtained a unanimous California Supreme Court opinion in his client’s favor that resolved a split in authority among the Districts of the California Court of Appeal. (McMillin Albany v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 241.)
Hannah Motsenbocker: Hannah Motsenbocker is senior counsel in WSHB’s Dallas office and has extensive experience with defending clients in a variety of civil and commercial cases before Texas state courts, Federal Courts as well as before arbitration panels and various regulatory agencies. Hannah enjoys working on cases with novel or unique procedural and substantive issues and has a strong passion for helping clients navigate through the complexities of the litigation process. Hannah's practice includes products liability, premises liability, professional liability, energy and utilities litigation, construction defect litigation, and multi-district litigation. In addition, Hannah’s practice includes first-party insurance disputes. Her expertise in this area includes advising domestic and international insurers with claim investigations, specifically claims following catastrophic weather-related events and the COVID-19 pandemic, coverage interpretation and analysis, and appraisals. Hannah regularly represents insurers facing bad faith claims and statutory violations that arise during the procurement process or during the claims handling phase. Hannah also routinely advises employers on compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Texas labor laws, and the Family and Medical Leave Act as well as on traditional employment law matters, such as discrimination, retaliation, and work-place safety. Hannah has represented employers before the United States Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Texas Workforce Commission.
Anthony Ortiz: Anthony Ortiz is senior counsel based in WSHB’s Orange County office. Anthony’s practice focuses on the representation of firm’s clients in a variety of matters, including civil defense, commercial and business disputes and transactions, corporate governance, real estate, and labor and employment. Prior to joining the firm, Anthony represented automobile dealerships in commercial litigation involving individual and class action consumer defense. Anthony also represented institutional clients in a variety of business and commercial litigation matters in the areas of creditors’ rights, real estate disputes, banking regulations, and bankruptcy, as well as the documentation and restructure of real estate, asset-based and commercial lending transactions.
Rudolf Petrosyan: Rudolf Petrosyan is senior counsel in WSHB’s Glendale office where he handles complex civil litigation matters from inception to trial. With creative solutions and using the discovery process to his clients’ advantage, Rudolf frequently obtains favorable results by way of summary judgment and early settlement. In trial, Rudolf simplifies complex concepts and connects with the jurors, which helps him get excellent results. For instance, following a successful three-week wrongful death trial, one of the jurors was quoted saying that when Rudolf spoke “he made sense.” For these reasons, Rudolf is regularly retained in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases to defend clients against claims of toxic torts, products liability, and general negligence. He has experience handling matters in both federal and state court.
Jeffery Rowe: Jeff is an insurance coverage lawyer representing domestic and international insurers involved in claims made under property and general liability policies. His coverage and civil litigation practice focuses on defending insurers in breach of contract and bad faith actions, quantum disputes, and extra contractual liability. Jeff regularly advises the London insurance market in policy underwriting issues, pre-suit matters, and represents Lloyd’s syndicates in litigation. Jeff also serves as appointed defense counsel for insureds involved in personal injury, wrongful death, and premises liability lawsuits.
Melissa Saracyan: Melissa Saracyan is senior counsel at WSHB’s Los Angeles office where she handles complex civil litigation including catastrophic injury, landlord-tenant habitability, products liability, construction defect and a wide variety of complex tort matters. Melissa has also successfully managed high-profile federal cases including bankruptcy and business matters. She has extensive experience in all phases of litigation, including pre-litigation resolution of matters, pre-trial discovery, motion practice, mediation, and trial preparation.
Alexis Schuler: Senior counsel with the firm, Alexis Schuler's practice focuses on complex civil litigation. She is particularly adept in litigating issues pertaining to premises liability, construction defect and contract disputes. Alexis has defended property owners, business owners and employers in superior courts across California, as well as trucking companies and technology firms in federal district courts. She is experienced in all phases of litigation, from case inception through discovery, law and motion work, to trial preparation. While in law school, she was inducted into the Public Service Honors Society for donating over 250 hours as a law clerk for judges in the criminal department of the East County branch of the San Diego Superior Court.
Michael Simpson: Mike is senior counsel in WSHB’s Denver office where he handles complex civil litigation matters. In addition to construction defect, commercial, and business litigation, Mike assists our national insurance coverage practice by advising and representing domestic and international insurers on first-party property, commercial general liability, and professional errors and omission claims, including interpretation of policy provisions and exclusions and first-party bad faith claims. Mike worked for seven years in Information Technology as a software support analyst and network engineer prior to law school. His work experience is called upon in relation to issues which arise in the emerging area of cybersecurity and data privacy. Prior to joining the firm, Mike clerked for the Honorable Brian R. Whitney of the Denver District Court.
Courtney Swartz: Courtney Swartz is senior counsel in WSHB's New York City office. She focuses her practice on complex tort and casualty, New York Labor Law, and motor vehicle negligence actions. She is also well-versed in handling construction, labor and employment, property management and tenant, and toxic and environmental tort matters. While in law school she worked as a legal intern for the Hon. David P. Sullivan, Nassau County Supreme Court, Tenth Judicial District. Courtney received her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Business and Liberal Arts from City University of New York, Queens College, cum laude. As an undergraduate, she interned for former Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Molly Wilcox: Molly Wilcox is senior counsel in WSHB’s White Plains office where she handles a variety of complex civil litigation matters including wrongful death, catastrophic injury, professional liability and employment. Molly has extensive experience litigating complex, high-exposure matters and has successfully defended her clients in both Connecticut and Massachusetts State courts against a variety of claims. Prior to joining the firm she worked at a boutique law firm where she handled all aspects of civil litigation. Molly is a magna cum laude graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law, where she served as Supervising Editor of the Quinnipiac Probate Law Journal and the Executive Vice President of the ABA Competition for the Mock Trial Honor Society. Molly received her undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, in Criminal Justice from New England College.
Matthew Williams: Matthew Williams brings over 20 years of trial experience, solid results and creative strategy to every matter he handles. Truly a versatile lawyer, Matt handles complex matters involving toxic torts, professional liability, environmental, insurance and products liability. Throughout the course of his career, Matt’s successfully tried high profile cases to verdict, including multiple jury trials. He enjoys considerable experience in complex civil litigation and dispute resolution. He’s negotiated on behalf of corporate and individual clients often facing millions in liability, consistently settling for a small fraction of their exposure, and even zero liability in some cases. Among his published opinions is Thrifty Oil & Subsidiaries v. Commissioner, 139 T.C. 6 (2012), a Federal Court decision regarding environmental remediation expenses. Matt began his career as a Lieutenant in the Navy JAG Corps, defending toxic tort, environmental, professional liability, and criminal cases. His honors include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star.
Sara Wright: Sara Wright is senior counsel in WSHB’s Las Vegas office. She handles a wide range of civil litigation matters, including transportation, product liability, toxic tort, occupational exposure and employer liability, medical malpractice, complex torts and casualty, and construction defect. Sara has extensive experience defending corporations in complex torts, premises liability, and commercial transportation matters. Prior to becoming a civil litigator, Sara worked at a local non-profit advocating for homeowners facing foreclosure and eviction by negotiating loan modifications, attending foreclosure mediations, and successfully reversing several wrongful foreclosures and evictions. Sara has also successfully negotiated hundreds of short sales, including deficiency waivers, and has donated time to her community by working on pro bono legal matters. She has been featured in Nevada Lawyer Magazine for her pro bono work.
Congratulations to this distinguished group of new Senior Counsel!
- Joseph M. Aguirre
- Ahllam H. Berri
- Keith T. Bostwick
- S. Joanna Dyriam
- Danielle R. Ebel
- Zachary Fletcher
- Bahareh Habibi
- Caroline Hopkins
- Lee H. Jeansonne
- Brendan A. Johnson
- R. Daniel Knuth
- Fationa Mamo
- Andrew M. Morgan
- Anthony S. Ortiz
- Rudolf Petrosyan
- Jeffery Rowe
- Melissa Saracyan
- Alexis J. Schuler
- Michael D. Simpson
- Courtney G. Swartz
- Molly M. Wilcox
- Sara D. Wright