Institute Governance

Ellen Relkin, President
Jennie Lee Anderson, Vice President
Patrick A. Malone, Treasurer
Stephen Herman, Secretary
Kathleen Flynn Peterson, Immediate Past President
Jennie Lee Anderson
Linda Miller Atkinson
N. John Bey
Robert H. Edwards
Stephen J. Herman
Michelle L. Kranz
Adam J. Langino
Patrick A. Malone
Shawn Joseph McCann
Christopher T. Nace
Ellen A. Presby
Ellen Relkin
Todd A. Smith
Gerson H. Smoger
Alinor Sterling
David G. Wirtes, Jr.
Ex-Officio Trustees
Raymond Jones
Julie Braman Kane
Rebecca Langston
Kathleen L. Nastri
Ashleigh Raso
Elise R. Sanguinetti
Zachary L. Wool

Past Presidents Advisory Committee     
Mary E. Alexander
Kathryn H. Clarke
Roxanne Barton Conlin
William A. Gaylord
Robert L. Habush
Russ M. Herman
Mark S. Mandell
Richard H. Middleton, Jr.
Herman J. Russomanno
Larry S. Stewart

Executive Director
Mary P. Collishaw
777 Sixth Street N.W., Suite 200
Washington DC 20001
Phone: 202-944-2841
Fax: 202-298-6390

Ellen Relkin is President of the Pound Civil Justice Institute. She is of counsel to Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. in New York City and Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  She is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Certified Civil Trial Attorney.  She has been elected as a “Super Lawyer” of New Jersey and New York as well as AV rated and selected for the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers.  She is licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.

Ms. Relkin was court-appointed by the Hon. Brian Martinotti as lead counsel in the New Jersey In Re: Stryker Rejuvenate/ABG II Modular Hip Litigation.  She was a member of the negotiating team for a settlement compensating 3,000 plaintiffs for an amount in excess of one billion dollars. Ms. Relkin is co-lead counsel in the DePuy ASR MDL litigation.  In that capacity she played a key role in negotiating the $2.5 billion settlement for 8,000 victims of the failed hip implant.  She was appointed this year by the Hon. Eldon Fallon to serve on the Plaintiff Steering Committee in the In Re: Xarelto Litigation.  She was a member of the trial team in the landmark Vioxx case McDarby v. Merck, that obtained a $13.5 million verdict and successfully defended the compensatory verdict in writing and arguing the appeal before the New Jersey Appellate Division, 949 A.2d 223 (N.J. App. Div. May 29, 2008).  This precedential case established that New Jersey recognized a heeding presumption in pharmaceutical product liability litigation.  Ms. Relkin is an elected member of the American Law Institute.  She serves on the Board of Governors of the New Jersey Association for Justice. She also serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of California at Irvine Law School.  She is a former chair of the Toxic, Environmental and Pharmaceutical Torts Section of the American Association of Justice.  

Jennie Lee Anderson is a founding partner of the San Francisco law firm of Andrus Anderson LLP.  Ms. Anderson exclusively represents plaintiffs in a variety of class and complex cases in both state and federal court, including consumer, antitrust, employment and product liability matters.  Ms. Anderson has served as lead or liaison counsel in multiple state and nationwide class actions.  She has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer for five consecutive years, and lectures frequently across the country on a variety of issues relating to class and complex litigation.  
Ms. Anderson is Vice President of the Pound Civil Justice Institute.  She also serves on the American Association for Justice Board of Governors, is the past Chair of the AAJ Class Action Litigation Group and Business Torts Section, and is a current Chair of the AAJ Antitrust Litigation Group.  Ms. Anderson is also active in the American Bar Association’s Class Actions and Derivative Suits Committee, Consumer Attorneys of California and the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.  

Patrick Malone is an attorney in private practice in Washington, DC, where he and his associates at Patrick Malone & Associates, PC, represent seriously injured people in lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, drug companies, government agencies, and other defendants.  Malone is the author of Winning Medical Malpractice Cases with the Rules of the Road Technique and is co-author of the best-selling advocacy book: Rules of the Road: A Plaintiff Lawyer’s Guide to Proving Liability. He also wrote a book for consumers: The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care -- and Avoiding the Worst.  Patrick Malone is a graduate of Yale Law School and is a member of the American Law Institute, the Inner Circle of Advocates and is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Steve Herman practices with Herman, Herman & Katz, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The author of America and the Law: Challenges for the 21st Century, Herman teaches an advanced torts seminar on class actions at Loyola Law School and an advanced civil procedure course in complex litigation at Tulane.  He served for six years as a Lawyer Chair for one of the LADB Hearing Committees, and serves as Co-Liaison Counsel for Plaintiffs in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Litigation.

Kathleen Flynn Peterson has devoted her life to providing advocacy for people dealing with pain, suffering and loss.  She began her career as a registered nurse, speaking for her patients’ needs and speaking up against institutional problems in the medical system in order to provide her patients with the best possible care.  Drawn to the law after serving as a juror, Kathleen has continued advocating against health care injustices by focusing her law practice on the representation of individuals and families who have experienced injury or death as a result of medical negligence.

As a result of her outstanding advocacy, Kathleen has been selected for membership in many prestigious, invitation-only trial lawyer organizations and she serves as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Attorneys, the International Society of Barristers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the American Bar Foundation. She also is certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the Civil Litigation Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association and is a frequent, sought-after speaker and lecturer on trial litigation strategies. In addition, she has been an active member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, serving as their past president, and the American Association for Justice, the nation’s largest plaintiff’s trial bar.  In 2007, Kathleen served as the national president of this organization. In 1999, she was honored with the association’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Linda Miller Atkinson is a partner in the firm of Atkinson, Petruska, Kozma & Hart, with offices in Gaylord and Channing, Michigan. She is licensed in Georgia, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. A 1963 graduate of Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, and a 1973 graduate of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan, she is an author and editor of TORTS: MICHIGAN LAW AND PRACTICE, published by the Institute of Continuing Education since 1994, and of LAWYERS DESK REFERENCE (8th edition, Thomson-West), and is author of the “Depositions” chapter of LITIGATING TORT CASES (AAJ Press, published by Thomson-West). She was the recipient of the American Association for Justice’s Champion of Justice Award in 2007, the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award in 1995, and the Women Trial Lawyer’s Caucus Marie Lambert Award in 2000. She is a past president of the Michigan Association for Justice, a member of the American Association for Justice, and a Fellow and trustee of the Pound Civil Justice Institute. In her life outside the court-room she is in her 20th year of providing outdoor emergency care with the National Ski Patrol. 
N. John Bey is the founder and Managing Partner of Bey & Associates, an Atlanta firm dedicated to meeting each client’s needs and concerns by providing comprehensive legal representation from the conference room to the courtroom. The firm serves those who have been catastrophically injured and represents the families of people killed through medical malpractice, defective drugs and defective products. He has been named 2015 Rising Star, Super Lawyers Magazine, Top 100 Trial Lawyers and Top 40 under 40. He is a faculty member of the American Association for Justice National College of Advocacy and a graduate of the American Association for Justice’s Ultimate Trial Course at Harvard University’s Law School and the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College.
Michelle Kranz is a partner and has been a member of the Ohio law firm Zoll & Kranz, LLC, for more than 20 years. She focuses her practice on mass torts, personal injury, pharmaceutical and product liability, and antitrust. She has extensive experience litigating before state, federal and appellate courts and has handled numerous high-profile cases. She is admitted to practice law in Ohio and before the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 6th and 7th Circuits and the U.S. Supreme Court.

After receiving a Bachelor of Science (cum laude) from Miami University in 1990, Michelle earned her J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law in 1993. Michelle is a Past President of the Toledo Bar Association and is currently serving on the Toledo Bar Association Foundation Board of Directors. She stays involved with her law school alma mater, serving on the Dean's Advisory Board and is Past President of the UT Law Alumni Affiliate. Ms. Kranz is a member of the Toledo Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the American Association for Justice and the Ohio Association for Justice.

Adam Langino is recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of Florida's Top 40 trial attorneys under 40 years old and as one of the Top 100 trial attorneys in Florida. He has also been named a Rising Star by the Florida Super Lawyers (a distinction bestowed on no more than 2.5% of Floridian attorneys) and recognized as one of Florida's Legal Elite. Adam is a 2006 Cum Laude graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Law. He received his Bachelor's degree with Honors in Government and Politics, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maryland - College Park and was selected to study at Exeter College at Oxford University, where he participated in an Honors Seminar in British Law and Society.

Prior to joining Cohen, Milstein, Sellers, & Toll, PLLC, Adam was an Assistant Public Defender in West Palm Beach, Florida, handling complex criminal cases, including crimes punishable by life in prison, gaining valuable trial experience securing freedom for the wrongly accused. Adam is a member of the Florida Bar, the Minnesota Bar and the Federal Bar for the Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida. Adam is a Board member for the Florida Justice Association’s Young Lawyer's Section and the Young Lawyer's section of the Palm Beach County Bar Association, and a member of APITLA (Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America), the Palm Beach County Justice Association, the National Trial Lawyers, the American Association for Justice, and the Palm Beach County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


Shawn McCann is a partner at Banafsheh, Danesh & Javid, specializing in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases. Shawn studied accounting and political science at Villanova University and earned his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles in 2003. Throughout his career, Shawn has received awards and recognition for his client advocacy skills and dedication to excellence by several attorney organizations. In 2011, Shawn received the F. Scott Baldwin Trial Lawyer of the Year Award from the American Association for Justice, New Lawyers Division. Each year from 2005 to 2013, Shawn was named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers. In 2014 and 2015, Shawn was recognized as a Super Lawyer in Los Angeles Magazine.

Shawn is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. As a member of the ABOTA Executive Committee, Shawn created ABOTA SideBar, a program designed to educate young trial attorneys on the importance of civility among lawyers and the importance of the right to a jury trial. In 2008, Shawn was selected to join the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, the largest local trial lawyer association in the United States. He was elected by the Board to the Executive Committee in 2013, and currently serves as CAALA’s treasurer. Since 2011, Shawn has served on the state-wide level as a member of the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys of California. At a national level, Shawn participates as a State Delegate to the American Association for Justice. 


Chris Nace was born in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Government in 1998. In 2003 Chris graduated from Emory University School of Law where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Emory Law Journal. Mr. Nace also earned his Masters in Business Administration from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in 2003. While enrolled in Emory’s JD/MBA Program, Chris was recognized as the Rothfeder Family Scholar and was awarded the Emory School of Law Dean’s Public Service Award.

Before joining Paulson & Nace in February 2007, Mr. Nace practiced in the Atlanta office of the national law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. Mr. Nace was an associate in the Intellectual Property Litigation Group where he represented plaintiffs in complex patent infringement matters. Mr. Nace also handled a number of business litigation and employment liability matters.  Chris is a Past-Chair of the American Association for Justice New Lawyers Division and its Membership Oversight Committee. Chris is currently the President-Elect of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC.

Ellen Presby is the Director of Pharmaceutical Litigation at Nemeroff Law Firm, a Dallas based law firm with offices in Dallas, Houston, Park City, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans, where she represents individuals injured by pharmaceutical products in state and federal court, in single actions and consolidated litigations. She has been a trial lawyer for more than thirty years and is currently Co-Lead Counsel in the Connecticut State Court consolidated Pradaxa litigation, and serves on Plaintiffs’ Steering Committees in several other consolidated actions. Ms. Presby is an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law, teaching Products Liability to second and third year law students, and has taught Trial Advocacy to law students and practitioners. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Public Justice Committee and the Dallas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. She co-authored Texas Pretrial Practice, published in 2000. She has been selected Texas Super Lawyer every year since its inception and is included on D Magazine’s list of Best Lawyers in Dallas.

Todd Smith is a founding partner in the law firm of Power Rogers & Smith, P.C. in Chicago focusing on catastrophic injury and wrongful death matters in the areas of aviation, medical negligence, and general personal injury. He has also served in leadership positions in national mass tort and class action matters. He received his B.A. from Kansas University, his M.B.A. from Northwestern University and his J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago.

He has been a trial lawyer his entire legal career beginning in the criminal Felony Courts of the Circuit Court of Cook County at 26th and California as an Assistant Public Defender. Todd is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates. He is also a Fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the International Society of Barristers. He served as the President of the Illinois State Bar Association; the American Association for Justice; and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.


Gerson Smoger has represented a wide range of clients in consumer and personal injury litigation.   His special emphasis in personal injury has been in birth and early childhood injuries, injuries related to the brain and neurological system, and injuries caused by errant pharmaceuticals or environmental exposure, including their carcinogenic and adverse immunological properties.

In 2012, Smoger was named Public Justice’s national “Trial Lawyer of the Year” after his success in trying the case of Alexander v. Fluor for more than three months against a lead smelter that had poisoned young children,.   He was previously named a finalist for Public Justice’s “Trial Lawyer of the Year” award for his role in the trial of Price v. Philip Morris, involving the fraud of "light" cigarettes.  He has served as lead counsel in a number of other significant cases, such as the representation of the people of Times Beach in Missouri, groundwater contamination by Teledyne, Fairchild, and IBM in Silicon Valley, chlorine gas exposure in Alberton, Montana, childhood lead contamination in Herculaneum, Mo., and numerous consumer class actions.  He successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court the right of Vietnam veterans to bring suit for Agent Orange exposure, although the case was later dismissed   Always on a pro bono basis, he has represented many amici before the U.S. Supreme Court, including the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, the AMA, the Center for Auto Safety, the American Legion, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and Public Citizen.  Dr. Smoger earned his Bachelor's Degree from Lycoming College (Summa Cum Laude) before he undertook graduate studies at Stanford University and the U. of Pennsylvania, where he passed his orals with distinction at the age of 21 and subsequently was awarded his Ph.D. He received his Juris Doctor's Degree from the U. of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the bars of CA, TX, and the U.S. Supreme Court.


Alinor Sterling practices law as a member of Koskoff, Koskoff  & Bieder, PC in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  She handles complex civil cases, at trial and on appeal.  Alinor received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, where she took her major in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and her minor in Russian Studies. After a year’s graduate fellowship in Moscow, Alinor attended the UCLA School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif and was an editor of the UCLA Law Review.  Alinor is a Fellow of the Pound Civil Justice Institute and the Chair of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association’s Rules Committee.  She enjoys teaching on Connecticut practice and procedure whenever she can.


David Wirtes is a member of Cunningham Bounds, LLC of Mobile, Alabama, where he focuses on strategic planning, motion practice and appeals. Mr. Wirtes is licensed in all state and federal courts in Alabama and Mississippi, the Fifth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He is active in numerous professional organizations, including as a member of the Alabama State Bar Association’s Ethics Committee, and Long-Range Planning Committee and as an editor of The Alabama Lawyer. He is a long-time member of the Alabama Supreme Court’s Standing Committee on the Rules of Appellate Procedure and has served on that Court’s Standing Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure. He is a Sustaining Member of the Alabama Association for Justice and has served in numerous capacities, including as Member, Board of Governors and Executive Committee (1990-present); Member and/or Chairman, Amicus Curiae Committee (1990-present); and Co-editor, the Alabama Association for Justice Journal (1996-present). He is also actively involved with the American Association for Justice where he formerly served on its Board of Governors and continues to serve as a Member of its Amicus Curiae Committee (1999-present).

Mr. Wirtes is a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America; Founder and former Executive Director of the American Institute of Appellate Practice (and one of just twelve persons certified nationwide by AIAP as an Appellate Specialist); a Sustaining Fellow and Trustee of the Pound Civil Justice Institute, and a Sustaining Member and the former Alabama Representative for Public Justice. He has published numerous journal articles and is a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education seminars, having spoken on such topics as Defeating Unlawful Discrimination in Jury Selection, Appellate Practice, Perfecting the Appeal, HIPAA and Ex parte Contacts, Recent Updates on the Law, Electronic Discovery, Arbitration, and Immunity.


Julie Braman Kane is a partner at Colson Hicks Eidson, where she has practiced since graduating from the University of Miami School of Law in 1993. Ms. Kane's litigation practice emphasizes representation of plaintiffs in products liability, personal injury, drug and device, business tort and class action litigation.

In addition to her practice, Julie is actively involved in various local and national organizations as well as with legal organizations such as the Miami-Dade Florida Association for Women Lawyers, of which she is a past president. She has served as a Commissioner on the Florida Elections Commission from 2008 through 2011, and she is active in the American Association for Justice, where she currently serves as Immediate Past President, is a member of the Board of Governors and has chaired the National Finance Council, the Products Liability section, the Women's Caucus, and the Voters Protection Action Committee. She is a proud recipient of the Marie Lambert Award from the Women’s Caucus and the Joe Tonahill Award from the Young Lawyers Section. Ms. Kane served six years on the Board of Trustees for the National College of Advocates, which she co-chaired for two years. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Florida Justice Association, where she is a past Chair of both the Young Lawyers Division and the Women's Caucus.


Kathleen Nastri is a partner with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, P.C. in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She works exclusively on behalf of plaintiffs and focuses her work on medical malpractice of injured patients. She was the first female president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers’ Association, was past co-chair of its Continuing Legal Education Committee, and currently serves on its Board of Governors, Executive and Nominating committees.

Kathleen is currently the President of the American Association for Justice, a fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy of Trial Lawyers and a member of the Summit Council, American Board of Trial Advocates and the International Society of Barristers. She has lectured extensively on personal injury and medical malpractice at local and national seminars. She received her law degree from the University of Connecticut, School of Law, graduating cum laude, in 1986.


Ashleigh Raso practices products liability law at Meshbesher & Spence in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a concentration on medical device and pharmaceutical drugs. She is a member of the American Association of Justice, where she is currently the co-chair of the LGBT Caucus. Recently she was appointed to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee for Stryker LFIT V40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation. She is recognized as a Rising Star by Minnesota Super Lawyers.


Elise Sanguinetti is a founding partner at Arias Sanguinetti Stahle & Torrijos with offices in Oakland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Montreal. Elise's main focus of expertise is serious injury, wrongful death cases, civil appeals and legal malpractice. Elise is the president-elect of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the immediate past-president of the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), and a past-president of the Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association. Since 2013, she has been named one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Bay Area. When not in the courtroom, she is a frequent speaker at seminars and writes articles that are featured in various legal publications. Her copious amount of work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors.

Kathryn Clarke is a sole practitioner in Portland, Oregon, who specializes in appellate practice and consultation on legal issues in complex tort litigation. She served as President of the Pound Civil Justice Institute from 2011 to 2013, and is currently a member of its Advisory Committee. She is a member of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and has been a member of its Board of Governors for over 25 years, serving as President from 1995 to 1996; in 2006 she received that organization’s Distinguished Trial Lawyer award. She is also a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Jus-tice. She was a member of the adjunct faculty at Lewis and Clark Law School, and taught a seminar in advanced torts for several years. In 2008 she served as a member of a work group on Tort Conflicts of Law for the Oregon Law Com-mission, which resulted in a bill passed by the 2009 legislature. She has served as member and Chair of Oregon’s Council on Court Procedures, and has been a member of the Oregon State Bar’s Uniform Civil Jury Instructions Com-mittee.
Herman J. Russomanno served as President of the Pound Civil Justice Institute from 2013-2015, and is currently a member of its Advisory Committee. He is a founding partner of Russomanno & Borrello, P.A., in Miami, Florida. Admitted to practice in Florida and Alabama, he is certified as a trial lawyer by both the State of Florida and the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University and holds a J.D. degree from Cumberland School of Law. He has served as President of the Florida Bar and of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and is a member of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a governor of the American Association for Justice, and has been active in, and honored by, numerous other legal and civic organizations.