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Illinois Basic Skills for Newly Admitted Attorneys 2018


Speaker(s): Benjamin Bradford, Kendric Cobb, Kenya Jenkins-Wright, Lauren G. Robinson, Leslie D. Davis, Lindsey D. G. Dates, Natalie J. Spears, Precious S. Jacobs, R. Jason Patterson, Reena R. Bajowala, Sarah Ansari Haque, Stephanie L. Stewart, Stephen Mitchell
Recorded on: Oct. 1, 2018
PLI Program #: 222042

Precious S. Jacobs is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Department.  Ms. Jacobs primarily represents clients in Products Liability, Class Action, Complex Commercial, and Franchising and Distribution Dispute matters.  Ms. Jacobs also counsels clients on a variety of legal issues related to data privacy.  

Ms. Jacobs has significant experience in a variety of forums, including in state and federal courts across the country in cases involving complex contractual disputes in a variety of industries, including retail, construction services, and financial services.  Ms. Jacobs has assisted in obtaining significant victories for clients in her matters and has served as an integral member of key litigation teams that have been able to successfully settle several complex matters over the years.  She also counsels clients on a number of data privacy related issues, specifically in the use of physical security measures to protect highly confidential and proprietary information.  In addition to her diverse litigation and counseling experience, Ms. Jacobs maintains an active pro bono practice.  Ms. Jacobs has assisted her pro bono clients with respect to defending against first-degree murder charges and overturning a void regulation utilized by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services. 

Ms. Jacobs is currently a fellow in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellows Program, a program dedicated to creating a truly diverse U.S. legal profession.  She has also received the National Bar Association’s Young Lawyer’s Division’s Humanitarian Award, Academic Achievement Program at NYU’s Alumni Trailblazer Award, and Family Defense Center’s Major Litigation Award.  Prior to joining Jenner and Block, Ms. Jacobs completed a PILI Fellowship at the Chancery Advice Desk for pro se litigants through the Chicago Legal Clinic.  Ms. Jacobs received her JD, magna cum laude, from the University of Illinois College of Law, where she also received two Rickert Awards for Excellence in Advocacy and Service. 

Ms. Jacobs serves as a member of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and as the Co-Chair of the firm’s African-American Affinity Group.  Ms. Jacobs is also a member of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. 


As Assistant General Counsel of the American Medical Association, Lauren counsels senior leadership and staff on legal matters and business strategy.  She is experienced in corporate law and governance; corporate and real estate transactions; mergers and acquisitions; compliance and ethics; and employment law. Prior to joining the AMA, she was an in-house attorney with the American Bar Association and a Partner at Schiff Hardin, LLP (Corporate and Securities).  Lauren has counseled private and public corporations, non-profit corporations and membership associations.  She also held multiple executive roles as at Chicago Community Ventures, which provides financing and consulting to small businesses.  

Lauren is an arbitrator with the Circuit Court of Cook County Mandatory Arbitration Program and a member of the Hearing Board of the Illinois Attorney Review and Disciplinary Commission. Lauren served as an Adjunct Faculty Supervisor at the Business Enterprise Law Clinic of The John Marshall Law School where she supervised students representing small businesses on corporate matters. She clerked I federal district court for the Honorable Clifford Scott Green (E.D. Pa). 

Lauren has received the "Top Assistant General Counsel" award from First Chair, an organization of in-house counsel and the Chicago Bar Association’s “Lawyers Lend-A-Hand” Award for her work in youth mentoring.

Lauren is a graduate of New York University School of Law, New York University Graduate School of Public Service (M.P.A., Public Policy), and Vassar College (Thesis with Distinction).


Benjamin J. Bradford is a litigation partner concentrating on intellectual property/technology litigation with a focus on computer and internet technologies. He has significant experience litigating and counseling patent, trademark, trade secret, and copyright issues. Mr. Bradford’s focus on computer and internet technologies stems from his master’s degree in mathematics/computer science and prior computer programming experience. In addition, he has experience in a wide variety of civil litigation matters including breach of contract, fraud, and real property issues.

His professional accomplishments include handling first chair responsibilities for a multimillion dollar technology dispute; arguing a Seventh Circuit appeal; and leading numerous complex litigations.  Mr. Bradford is a member of the firm’s Hiring Committee, Litigation Associate Assignment Committee, and Computer Security Task Force. 

Mr. Bradford is a member of the bars of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit, the Federal Circuit, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Also, he is a member of the TechLaw Organizaiton.  Mr. Bradford is also regularly involved in pro-bono representation in both criminal and civil matters.


Jason Patterson is a Trial Attorney with the United States Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor in Chicago, Illinois.  As a trial attorney in the Chicago Regional Office, Jason represents the Department’s sub-agencies in enforcement litigation under several federal laws including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, wage and hour laws, whistleblowing laws and anti-discrimination laws for federal contractors.  In addition to his enforcement litigation work, Jason regularly counsels the Department’s sub-agencies regarding internal labor relations matters and defends the agencies in employment defense litigation.  Prior to joining the Department of Labor, Jason was a Field Attorney with Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board where he represented the General Counsel in unfair labor practice proceedings.  Jason received his J.D. and Masters in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois.


Kendric Cobb serves as Managing Counsel at Morton Salt, Inc.  Kendric joined Morton as Senior Counsel in 2016 has focused his efforts on strengthening the company’s compliance program while also managing its legal needs in the areas of labor, employment, benefits, immigration, and related litigation.  He reports to the General Counsel and is located in the Chicago head office.

Prior to Morton Salt, Kendric served in the Litigation, Labor and Employment Section of the Legal Services Division at Caterpillar Inc.  Located at the Peoria headquarters, Kendric managed a wide range of employment, product, commercial, insurance coverage, and mass tort litigation while providing advice and counsel on all areas of employment law in the U.S. and Canada.

Kendric has long been active in pro bono activities and represented pro bono clients in a variety of civil litigation matters ranging from criminal records to family law.  In addition, Kendric serves as Board Secretary and a Director of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, the statewide organization responsible for distributing state appropriated funds to support not-for-profit legal aid programs. 

Kendric previously served a term on the Board of Directors for the Cook County Bar Association, the oldest organization of African American lawyers and judges in the County.  He also served four years on the Board of Directors for the Crittenton Centers, a not-for-profit crisis nursery and child development organization serving the Peoria area. 

Before Kendric made the transition to an in-house practice, he was an Associate at three law firms in Chicago:  Winston & Strawn, LLP, Butler Rubin, LLP, and Reed Smith, LLP where he worked on a wide array of civil and criminal litigation matters for corporate clients.  

Kendric is a native of Champaign; a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois College of Law; and an eternally hopeful Illini fan. 


Kenya A. Jenkins-Wright is currently employed as the General Counsel of the Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission (GAC).  Prior to joining GAC, Ms. Jenkins-Wright spent 12 years as a litigator, with the law firms of Hinshaw & Culbertson and later Greene and Letts (n/k/a Zuber Lawler & Del Duca), specializing in product liability, medical malpractice, and Section 1983 civil rights actions.  Ms. Jenkins-Wright has participated and assisted in various aspects of trials including being the second chair in a four-day federal jury trial and being the lead counsel in several Illinois Circuit Court bench trials.  She has taken numerous depositions including the depositions of parties, witnesses, treating physicians and experts.  Ms. Jenkins-Wright has drafted and argued numerous motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, final pretrial orders, motions in limine, miscellaneous pleadings, and jury instructions.  She has drafted both Federal and Illinois State appellate briefs.

Ms. Jenkins-Wright is a past president of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc. (BWLA). During Ms. Jenkins-Wright’s Presidency, BWLA hosted a three-day National Summit of Black Women Lawyers, which addressed various issues relevant to black women attorneys and the minority community.  Ms. Jenkins-Wright is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), where she is currently the Chair of the Standing Committee on Racial & Ethnic Minorities and the Law, also serving on the ISBA Assembly and Bench & Bar Section.  Ms. Jenkins-Wright is a member of the board of directors of the Chicago Bar Foundation and a past president of the Chicago Bar Foundation Young Professionals Board.  She is also a past board member of the Cook County Bar Association, the oldest Association of African-American lawyers and judges in the country.

Ms. Jenkins-Wright has received numerous awards and recognitions for her legal prowess and community involvement, including: Chicago Daily Law Bulletin “40 Under Forty Illinois Attorneys to Watch”; American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Star of the Year Award; National Bar Association’s 40 Under Forty Award; Illinois Super Lawyer; Cook County Bar Association’s Junior Counselor Award; and Cook County Bar Association’s President’s Award.

Ms. Jenkins-Wright received her Juris Doctor from Northern Illinois University College of Law graduating magna cum laude in 2003. She graduated magna cum laude from Valparaiso University in 2000.  She was admitted to the practice of law in Illinois in 2003 and admitted to the Northern District of Illinois in 2004.


Leader, loyal advocate, and logical strategist are words used by colleagues and clients alike to describe Leslie. Comfortable and assured, with a special brand of “no nonsense” makes Leslie a favored litigator and a formidable opponent. For over two decades, Leslie has served as lead counsel for many jury trials, bench trials, and arbitrations, obtaining favorable verdicts for her clients in complex and high-stakes cases.

Leslie’s contagious energy and valuable insight mixed with her natural talent has been her formula for success. Leslie has successfully defended numerous corporations in multi-million-dollar exposure cases, including catastrophic injury and wrongful death product liability cases, negligence and premises liability cases, insurance and consumer putative class actions with thousands of potential class members, and business and employment disputes. Leslie routinely leverages her broad experience and honed trial skills with early offensive strategies to achieve unmatched results for clients. In fact, clients tout Leslie’s command of several practice areas and overall general litigation knowledge as an invaluable benefit to working with her and having her as a trusted advisor.

Honored by a number of professional and community organizations, Leslie is recognized as a connector, a mentor, and a trailblazer among her peers, colleagues, and friends. She has served on several educational, health, and other non-profit boards to support the needs of both the legal field and the broader community.


Lindsey D. G. Dates is a partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Chicago office and a member of the firm’s Litigation Department.

Mr. Dates represents U.S. clients in high-stakes litigation matters in forums across the country.  Mr. Dates also represents global clients in U.S. courts and has significant experience representing companies that conduct business in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Mr. Dates’ vast commercial litigation experience includes breach of contract, class action, labor and employment, product liability, business tort, intellectual property, antitrust, commercial real estate, and commercial bankruptcy litigation matters.

Mr. Dates focuses on complex breach of contract cases and large-scale litigation matters that require extremely aggressive case strategies and coordination between and among numerous parties in multiple jurisdictions.  Clients also call on Mr. Dates to provide general counseling services and leadership with respect to implementing preventative measures and resolving disputes using alternative methods.

The National Law Journal has named Mr. Dates to its exclusive list of Chicago Rising Stars.  Mr. Dates has also been named to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin/Chicago Lawyer’s prestigious 40 Under 40 list.

Mr. Dates earned his J.D., with honors, from the University of Illinois College of Law, where he was a Lincoln Scholar and a recipient of the Rickert Award for Excellence in Public Service.  Prior to law school, Mr. Dates enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the age of 16; earned two Bachelor Degrees as a triple major student (Rhetoric (Technical Writing), Speech Communications, and Political Science); and received multiple honors, including induction into the University of Illinois Senior 100 Honorary.

Active in the community, Mr. Dates is currently the Chair of The Chicago Committee, an organization that seeks racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.  He also created and currently serves as the chair of the Don Hubert Scholars Program, a program featured in a Chicago Lawyer Magazine cover story, and the director of community outreach for the Mentor Teacher Brother Center located in Chicago’s Roseland community.  Mr. Dates has also served on the board of directors for the University of Illinois College of Law Alumni Association, as a co-chair of the Cabrini Green Legal Aid Young Professionals Board, and as an associate board member of the Chicago Committee On Minorities In Large Law Firms.


Mr. Mitchell graduated from Florida A&M University in 1994 with his B.S. in Business Economics and received his M.A.S.S. in 1995. While at Florida A&M University, Mr. Mitchell was the Vice Polemarch of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. 

After leaving Florida A&M University, Mr. Mitchell went on to the University of Wisconsin Law School. Mr. Mitchell received his Doctor of Law in 1998. While at the University of Wisconsin Law School, Mr. Mitchell was Managing Editor of the Wisconsin Law Review and a Coach and Member- Wisconsin Moot Court Board.

In the fall of 2002, Mr. Mitchell was elected to serve on the Local School Council for Anthony Overton Elementary School.  In the summer of 2003, Mr. Mitchell was elected to the Board of Directors for the Cook County Bar Association and he also received the Cook County Bar Association President’s Award.  In the fall of 2003, Mr. Mitchell was appointed as a Hearing Officer for the Illinois Supreme Court Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and in spring 2007 he was appointed as Hearing Panel Chair.  In the spring of 2004, Mr. Mitchell was featured in the American Bar Association’s “Edge Magazine and in Uptown Magazine as one of the Nation’s Top Lawyers.

In the summer of 2004, Mr. Mitchell received the Cook County Bar Association’s Meritorious Service Award.  In the fall of 2004, Mr. Mitchell was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Legal Assistance Foundation. ” In 2006, Mr. Mitchell was selected as one of “40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 To Watch” – 2006, one of “Who’s Who in Black Chicago,” five times in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 as one of Super Lawyers Magazine “Illinois Rising Stars,” featured in the October/November issue of Uptown Magazine as one of the Nation’s Top Lawyers and as One of The Chicago Defender’s Men of Excellence and as WVON’s 40 Game Changers 40 and Under.

In 2013, Mr. Mitchell became the founding President of the Bronzeville Neighborhood Collaborative (BNC). Mr. Mitchell is also a member of the City of Chicago Police 2nd District Advisory Committee and the Court Advocacy Committee.  In 2014, Mr. Mitchell received the C.F. Stradford Award from the Cook County States Attorney's Office.

In the spring of 2017, Mr. Mitchell was appointed as the Father’s Auxiliary Chair of the Chicago Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Mr. Mitchell was also recently recognized as a Pillar of the Bronzeville Community by Andre and Frances Guichard, the Mayor and First Lady of Bronzeville.

Mr. Mitchell is president of The Stephen Mitchell Law Group, PC, which is one of Chicago’s Premier Personal Injury Law Firms.  The firm represents individuals and their families in personal injury and wrongful death cases.  Mr. Mitchell has handled cases in federal and state court and has obtained very successful results for his clients.                                                 

Mr. Mitchell is also a prominent collector of African American Fine Art with hundreds of pieces in his personal collection and is co-owner of Gallery Guichard, one of the nation’s most prominent art galleries. 


Ms. Stewart is a partner at the Meyer Law Group, LLC.  After graduating from Northwestern University Law School in 1994, Ms. Stewart served as a prosecutor at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (“ARDC”) where she investigated and litigated hundreds of attorney disciplinary cases. In 1999, she was promoted to Senior Counsel to the Administrator of the ARDC, a position she held until leaving the ARDC for private practice in 2002.  Recognized by her peers as a "Super Lawyer" and/or “Leading Lawyer” in professional liability since 2007, Ms. Stewart concentrates her practice in ARDC defense, legal malpractice, representation before the Committee on Character and Fitness, and representation before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Ms. Stewart has served as both a consulting and a testifying expert in the legal ethics field and regularly advises and represents governmental entities, corporations, law firms, and individual lawyers in ethics matters. For example, she has conducted internal ethics investigations, including Himmel investigations, for some of the largest law firms in Chicago. She has also represented attorneys and law firms in relation to motions to disqualify and for sanctions, fee disputes, and partnership matters.  Ms. Stewart was appointed as a Special Assistant State’s Attorney in both Cook and Winnebago Counties with respect to ethics matters, and previously chaired the CBA’s Committee on Professional Fees.


Natalie Spears is a trial lawyer and represents clients in state and federal courts across the US in a wide range of matters, including consumer class actions, IP, media and advertising disputes, complex commercial and real estate litigation. She is lauded by clients as “tenacious and pragmatic” and is recognized for her courtroom achievements. As head of Dentons global Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector, Natalie sets direction for the firm’s commitment to exceptional client service. 

Natalie’s clients include major global media and entertainment, retail, real estate and consumer products and services companies.  Her work and litigation victories were featured in Leading Lawyer Magazine, Top 10 in Illinois, earning a spot on the cover in the "Leading Women Lawyers" edition, March 2015, and as part of the National Law Journal’s "2014 Chicago Litigation Department of Year".

Natalie also is routinely called upon to secure the media's First Amendment rights, often in high-profile cases, including the trials of Jason Van Dyke, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Drew Peterson, Conrad Black, R. Kelly, and the Jennifer Hudson family murders.

A strong believer in a lawyer's responsibility to support the legal aid community, Natalie served in 2013 as the President of the Chicago Bar Foundation, which champions funding and access to justice for those in need of pro bono legal representation, and chaired the Leadership Council for the National Immigration Justice Center for many years.  She is currently a member of the Northern District of Illinois’ Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel and a member of the Chicago Inn of Court (having served as President in 2008).

Natalie is a graduate of Michigan Law School and the University of Iowa. She served as a law clerk in 1995 for the Honorable Michael J. Melloy, then-chief judge, of the US District Court for the Northern District of Iowa (now on the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals).


Reena Bajowala is a partner in Ice Miller’s Litigation Group, where her practice focuses on information technology, data security and privacy and employment matters. She regularly counsels and defends information technology (IT) companies (including software developers, cloud-based storage providers and tech startups), online and brick-and-mortar retailers, manufacturers and automotive industry clients in technology-related and employment (ERISA and FLSA) disputes. 

Reena advises sellers and buyers of IT services with respect to their rights and defends them in disputes, under a wide variety of laws, including contract, tort, copyright, trade secret and trademark law. She assists clients with evaluating business decisions relating to call centers and data centers around the globe. Reena helps navigate clients through issues relating to emerging technologies, including blockchain and artificial intelligence. She also provides advice to clients regarding data privacy and security issues.

With a demonstrated ability to deal with the intricacies of class, collective and plan-wide litigation, Reena defends employers and service providers in federal actions involving the FLSA and ERISA. She is adept at dealing with issues arising from the Class Action Fairness Act, Multi-District Litigation and hybrid action procedures. She also works with companies in consumer fraud and deceptive practice litigation and investigations. 

Reena is deeply committed to the community. She serves on the advisory board of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation. She also serves on the board of the Albany Park Theater Project. Her previous service includes the Public Interest Law Initiative, the National Immigrant Justice Center and Apna Ghar.

Reena is recognized for her public interest work in the areas of fair housing, civil rights and human trafficking. In 2005, she founded the Origins Fellowship at the University of Michigan Law School, which has distributed almost $125,000 to dozens of students working to advance the public interest. 

Reena works to advance diversity in the legal industry. She is a 2013 Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. She received the "Best Under 40" award from NAPABA, the POW! Award from Womenetics and a "Most Powerful and Influential Woman" award from the Illinois Diversity Council in recognition of these efforts. 

Reena joined the Firm in 2018 after spending more than 12 years as an associate and partner at an AmLaw 70 firm based in Chicago.


Sarah Ansari Haque serves as Corporate Counsel-Compliance at Morton Salt, Inc. Haque joined Morton in 2018 and is currently responsible for the day-to-day management of Morton Salt's Compliance Program, including compliance and ethics policy development, risk assessment, third party oversight, training, compliance program monitoring and counseling, Code of Conduct investigations, and reporting to stakeholders.

Haque graduated from Northwestern University in 2005 and Notre Dame Law School in 2009. From 2009-2015, Haque was a White Collar and Investigations Associate at Jenner & Block LLP. In that role, Haque conducted national and international risk assessments and internal investigations in the United States, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. She also represented Fortune 500 companies in SEC, DOJ, and other government agency investigations.

From 2015-2018, Haque worked as an Assistant Inspector General for the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General. As an AIG, Haque participated in and managed all legal aspects of administrative investigations into the performance of City officers, employees, functions, and programs.

Haque is a native of South Bend, Indiana and is involved in various non-profits, including the Logan Center for Autism and Muslims for Progressive Values.