Romi Akpala is Intellectual Property Counsel at Square Inc. where he focuses on various aspects of IP including patent development and enforcement, trademarks, trade secrets, open source, copyrights, mergers and acquisitions, technology licensing, and IP litigation. Prior to joining Square, Romi worked in private practice at Townsend and Townsend and Crew, in addition to serving as Patent Counsel for eBay Inc. and Hewlett Packard where he advised business units on complex IP matters impacting hardware, software, e-commerce, virtual reality and blockchain technologies. He earned his B.S. from the University of Southern California School of Engineering and his J.D. from the University of California, Davis School of Law (King Hall).
Michael S. Armstrong
Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger LLP
Michael Armstrong is an associate in the Orange County office of Carothers DiSante & Fruedenberger LLP. His practice focuses on employment litigation, with an emphasis on the defense of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, wage and hour, disability and misclassification claims. He also frequently handles commercial litigation and trade secret matters, and provides counsel to employers on the implementation of labor and employment policies, including compliance audits and workplace investigations. He maintains an active pro bono practice, most recently providing general counsel to The Compton Initiative. Michael received his law degree from the University of California, Irvine School of Law, where he was lead article editor of the UC Irvine Law Review.
Norton Basu LLP
Somita Basu is a Founding Principal and the Co-Managing Partner of the Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas offices of Norton Basu LLP. Ms. Basu addresses complex issues in estate planning, probate and trust administration matters. Ms. Basu is a member of the California Lawyers Association, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Association’s Solo and Small Firm Committee. She is also the Editor-In-Chief of The Practitioner, the quarterly publication of the Solo and Small Firm Committee. Ms. Basu is also a member of the Silicon Valley Bar Association, which focuses exclusively on the issues of estate planning and probate. Ms. Basu is a Board Member at Channing House, a senior living facility in Palo Alto, CA.
Thomal N. Bell
Thomas Bell is a regulatory attorney at Square, Inc. His practice focuses on U.S. payment laws and rules, including money transmitter laws, Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) operating rules, crypto-currency, card network rules, Anti-Money Laundering laws and consumer protection requirements. A Bay Area native and a fanatic of authentic jazz music, Mr. Bell earned a B.A. in journalism from Howard University and a J.D. from the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.
Christopher A. Braham
Vedder Price (CA), LLP
Chris Braham is an associate in Vedder Price’s Labor & Employment practice group. Chris represents employers in the litigation of employment disputes in federal and state courts arising out of discrimination, harassment, misappropriation of trade secrets, FLSA and state wage and hour claims. Chris also provides employers with sexual harassment trainings and advice in connection with terminations. Chris earned his B.A. from U.C. Irvine and his J.D. from the University of Southern California – Gould School of Law. In his free time, Chris enjoys golfing, following his favorite sports teams, and traveling.
Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP
Vaneeta Chintamaneni is an associate in the San Francisco office of Allen Matkins. Her practice focuses on environmental and natural resources law as well as business litigation. She provides pro bono counsel to asylum applicants and housing and community development nonprofits. Ms. Chintamaneni received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and received her Master of Urban Planning and law degree, summa cum laude and Order of the Coif, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In her free time, Ms. Chintamaneni enjoys traveling and reading.
Carla Maria De Silva
Carla Maria De Silva is Regulatory Counsel at Square, Inc. Square offers access to payments and funding to growing small businesses and Carla supports all lending products for eligible Square sellers. Her practice has been focused on banking and financial services, with extensive experience in the fast-paced FinTech industry, regulatory compliance, commercial contracts, licensing, M&A, telecommunications and intellectual property. Carla has counseled the development and maintenance of product counsel, governance and corporate compliance programs at various FinTech businesses and banks. Carla focuses on leveraging technology innovation for compliance as a competitive advantage, in order to bridge the gap between the law and today’s demands on financial services providers. Carla is a founding co-chairperson of Square’s LatinX community, currently an advisor, and volunteers on the Pro Bono Committee at Square, helping communities through legal assistance. She is actively involved in other non-profits supporting women entrepreneurs.
Barrington E. Dyer
Barrington Dyer is an Intellectual Property and Tech Transaction litigator at Polsinelli LLP. Outside the courtroom, Barrington represents companies in a variety of high-tech, data-driven industries, including neural networks, mobile apps, blockchain and other internet-related technologies. A former software engineer, Barrington helps companies navigate the evolving legal framework faced by emerging tech. In addition, Barrington serves as a board member for a number of non-profits, whose focus range from professional development to digital inclusion of underserved communities.
Lisa L. Garcia
Alston & Bird LLP
Nioura F. Ghazni
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Nioura F. Ghazni is a senior corporate associate in the firm’s San Francisco office. She focuses her practice on corporate counseling and represents private equity, venture capital, growth funds and other investors, as well as private companies, in many areas, including corporate and securities law, venture capital financings, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and technology licensing. Specifically, Nioura has experience and knowledge managing acquisitions, joint ventures and restructurings in the healthcare sector. She has negotiated some of the most complex health transactions in the United States in recent years. She is currently advising health systems on a number of innovative and complex healthcare transactions.
Lead Counsel, Real Estate
Evie M. Hightower is Lead Real Estate Counsel at Facebook, Inc. In her role, Evie is responsible for the legal aspects of the company’s data center development projects in North American and Asia Pacific. She focuses primarily on the acquisition and large-scale development of property; negotiation of economic development and tax incentives (including industrial revenue bonds, increment financing, and special districts); industrial, office, and warehouse leasing; and counseling the business on development strategy and planning. Prior to joining Facebook, she was an associate at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP. Evie earned her B.A. from Howard University, summa cum laude, and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Michelle M. Holmes
Littler Mendelson P.C.
Alston & Bird LLP
Clynton Namuo is an environmental litigation associate in Alston & Bird’s Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources Group. His practice focuses on California water law and water supply issues, complex environmental litigation, and natural resources permitting. Clynton also has an active pro bono practice and has been counsel on complex pro bono cases involving housing rights and first amendment issues. He is a member of Public Counsel’s Leadership Counsel, and serves on Alston & Bird’s Pro Bono and Diversity Committees. Prior to his career as a lawyer, Clynton was a newspaper reporter covering courts and crime. Clynton earned his B.S. from Boston University and his J.D. from Georgia State University College of Law.
Assistant General Counsel
Agricultural Labor Relations Board
University of California, Davis
Cassandra S. Payton
Counsel, Litigation, Employment & Compliance
Dine Brands Global, Inc.
Cassandra Payton is Counsel at Dine Brands Global, Inc., franchisor for International House of Pancakes and Applebee’s restaurants. In that capacity, she oversees employment, commercial, and intellectual property litigation as well as provide counseling on employment related matters and litigation avoidance strategies. Cassandra is also currently serving on the CMCP Ambassadors Counsel. Cassandra earned her B.A. from Emory University and her J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, three-year-old son, and golden retriever.
Robert C. Rodriguez
Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP
Robert C. Rodriguez is senior counsel in the San Diego office of Gordon & Rees and is a member of the Commercial Litigation, Consumer Protection Litigation, and Tort & Product Liability practice groups. His practice is primarily focused on the defense of national automotive manufacturers against negligence and strict products liability lawsuits in both state and federal court.
Kenneth M. Trujillo-Jamison
Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
Kenneth Trujillo-Jamison is a litigation associate with Munger, Tolles & Olson. His practice centers on complex civil litigation, specializing in securities litigation, intellectual property litigation, and general commercial disputes. He maintains an active pro bono practice, focusing on public-interest impact litigation and cases representing asylum seekers in trial and appellate courts. Kenneth serves as co-chair of Munger Tolles’ Jay Fujitani 1L Diversity Summer Program and as a member of the firm’s Recruiting and Diversity Committees. He also serves as the president of the board of the Housing Rights Center, and a member of the board of the Inner City Law Center. He earned his B.A. in English Literature, magna cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, his M.A. in Sociology from Princeton University, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Nisha Verma is an employment attorney at Dorsey, where she enjoys serving as a resource and partner to employers with respect to a wide variety of matters ranging from leaves of absence, disability accommodations, meal and rest periods, calculation and timing of payments of wages, reductions in force, union disputes and negotiations, and discipline and terminations. She also handles many wage and hour class actions and single-plaintiff employment disputes.
Nisha is the Co-Chair for United Way’s Women United, which is focusing on improving the standard of living for every child in Orange County, and contributes to the diversity pipeline by coaching high school mock trial through the Constitutional Rights Foundation. She is also grateful for Dorsey’s support in her pro bono work with domestic violence victims though Laura’s House.
Virgin Orbit, LLC
Negin Yazdani is the Corporate Attorney at Virgin Orbit. In that capacity, she is a generalist and touches all aspects of the business, including employment matters, contract negotiation and execution, intellectual property matters, and special projects. Negin is passionate about making her community better and is a member of two Virgin Orbit’s organizations, the Sustainability Council and Teammates for Women’s Empowerment. She also teaches a class at Virgin Orbit about humor in the workplace and performs standup comedy in her free time. Negin received her law degree from the U.C. Davis School of Law, where she was the managing editor of the U.C. Davis Law Review, and beatboxed in the school’s acapella group, Lawcappella.