Stars of the Bar: 2012

WBA Honors Women Leaders Who Have Championed Change at the 2012 Stars of the Bar

The 2021 Stars of the Bar networking reception was held in the lobby of the beautiful Columbia Square Building at 555 13th Street, NW, Washington, DC, with light hors d'oeuvres and beverages from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and a brief program beginning at 7:00 p.m.

This year, we honored women leaders who have championed change in the profession. These women champions have led by example, advocated for justice, and promoted the advancement of women in the profession. Reflecting the five points of a star, five women were recognized during a brief ceremony at the event: Brigida Benitez, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Claudette M. Christian, Partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP; Lisa Horowitz, Director of Professional Development, McDermott Will & Emery LLP; Marjorie O'Connell, Founder, O'Connell & Associates; and The Honorable Mary A. Gooden Terrell, Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Brigida Benitez, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Ms. Benitez is a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, where she focuses on global dispute resolution, internal investigations, and compliance matters. She advises clients on U.S. and international anti-corruption laws and regulations, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and regulation of Multilateral Development Banks. She also represents clients in connection with corporate and related conduct in complex U.S. and international legal settings. Ms. Benitez is also experienced in representing clients in complex commercial disputes and business controversies, including litigation and arbitration, and internal corporate investigations. She has been cited by DC Super Lawyers for her work in civil litigation defense, and Hispanic Business magazine has named her a “Woman of the Year” and one of the “100 Most Influential U.S. Hispanics.” Additionally, Ms. Benitez was a key member of the team representing the University of Michigan in a landmark victory for diversity in higher education before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to joining Steptoe, Ms. Benitez was Chief of the Office of Institutional Integrity of the Inter-American Development Bank(IDB), heading the office responsible for investigating all potential fraud and corruption in IDB-financed activities, and implementing programs designed to detect and prevent fraud, as well as engaging in compliance activities and outreach on integrity-related issues. Ms. Benitez is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches a course on international litigation and federal practice. She is a past Board member of the WBA, and past president of the Hispanic Bar Association of DC. She currently serves on the Board of Governors of the DC Bar and the Board of Directors of the Hispanic National Bar Foundation.

Claudette M. Christian, Partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP
Ms. Christian is a partner in Hogan Lovells' Finance practice. She has more than 25 years of commercial and corporate transactional experience, much of it international in scope. She represents sponsors, project developers, lenders, and foreign governments across a broad range of commercial and financing issues, providing clients with experienced counsel and executive judgment. She regularly advises clients on a wide array of cross-border transactions, including mergers and acquisitions and the development and financing of major infrastructure projects. In recent years she has worked primarily on matters in the energy (oil, gas, and renewables), telecommunications (mobile and fiber-optic), transportation (airports and toll roads), and aviation industries for clients with operations or interests in the United States, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Ms. Christian has worked extensively in Brazil since 1997 and is in the process of launching the firm’s office in Rio de Janeiro. She will continue her cross-border transactional practice from her offices in Rio de Janeiro and Washington, DC. Ms. Christian is active in firm management and pro bono activities. She serves as the firm's Chief Diversity Officer and regularly speaks on issues involving leadership, diversity and inclusion. In addition to having served as Hogan Lovells’ Co-Chair of its global board from 2010 -2012, she has served as a member of the firm's Executive Committee and as Co-Head of the Latin America practice group. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Senior Lawyers Project, an international organization that provides legal counsel for significant commercial transactions in emerging countries on a pro bono basis, and of the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, an organization comprised primarily of law firm partners that is focused on advancing women in the legal profession.

Lisa Horowitz, Director of Professional Development, McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Ms. Horowitz is Director of Professional Development at McDermott Will & Emery LLP. She facilitated the design, development, and implementation of McDermott University, an integrated talent development system that includes firmwide and practice group core competencies, aligned training, mentoring, and career development planning. She is a frequent trainer and speaker on leadership development, career planning, and mentoring both at the firm and externally including at the ABA Women in Law Leadership Academies. She has also had experience facilitating strategic planning and teambuilding for a number of large organizations. As a practicing attorney, she was a partner with the law firm of Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine, Underberg, Manley & Casey and most recently special counsel at Arnold & Porter. Ms. Horowitz is a past president of the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) and is on the NAWL board as well as the NAWL Foundation board. She also served on the steering committee of the Law Practice Management Section of the DC Bar. She is a member of the Professional Development Consortium, the American Bar Association, and the WBA.

Marjorie O'Connell, Founder, O'Connell & Associates
Ms. O’Connell is the founder of the Washington, DC law firm of O’Connell & Associates, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. She is an internationally recognized expert on divorce taxation. She was the founding President of the WBA Foundation and has been a longtime WBA member. Ms. O’Connell is a member of the American Bar Association's House of Delegates and has served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia (BADC). She was Chair of the International Bar Association's Family Law Committee and served two terms each as President for the National Foundation for Women's Bar Associations and the BADC Foundation. Ms. O’Connell currently serves on the Boards of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations and the National Foundation for Women’s Bar Associations. She has served as a Trustee of the BADC Foundation, and as a member of the Federal Taxation and Finance Committee of the National Tax Association–Tax Institute of America, the Council on Taxation of the Federal Bar Association, the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and the Taxation Task Force of the White House Conference on Small Business. Ms. O’Connell has authored a federal tax loose-leaf service supplemented monthly, as well as numerous books and tax articles. She lectures regularly at national tax seminars.

The Honorable Mary A. Gooden Terrell, Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Judge Terrell was nominated by President Clinton, confirmed by Congress, and sworn in as an associate judge for DC Superior Court in September 1997. She is a former assistant U.S. attorney. Judge Terrell is involved in international judicial training in the area of alternative dispute resolution and judicial assessment and reform. She has worked in Ghana, Malawi, Mali, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. In 2006, the Honorable Jendayi Fraser, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, appointed Judge Terrell to chair a panel for the African judiciary that would create viable models for judicial reform in Benin, Liberia, and Malawi. She is the founder of the African Judicial Network that promotes and supports best legal practices among the judiciaries throughout the continent. Judge Terrell is an educator and youth advocate. She has spent over 20 years training teachers and administrators and developing educational programs for inner city youth to deter them from crime and keep them out of the criminal justice system. Her experiences and deep concern for our youth led her to create The High Tea Society, Inc., a non-profit organization for inner city girls ages 9 to 18 years old who attend DC public schools and live in economically challenged communities. She is the founder of the Dix Street Academy, an alternative high school for youth who dropped out or were pushed out of the DC public school system. Judge Terrell is a founding member of the National Congress of Black Women. She was also inducted into the DC Women’s Hall of Fame in March 1998 and into the Washington Bar Association's Hall of Fame in June 2003. In April 2008, she was inducted into the Washington, DC Hall of Fame. She is Co-chair of the Embassy Relations Committee of the Rotary Club of Washington, DC and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Judicial Academy, Continentals Inc., and the Center for International Private Enterprise.