Amanda-L-Fernandez, CABA Pro Bono President



Amanda L. Fernandez is the managing partner of Rivero Mestre and focuses her practice on complex business matters, securities litigation, and cross-border disputes. She represents foreign and domestic clients across a multitude of industries. She understands her clients come to her when the stakes are high and aggressively defends claims brought against them or pursues claims on their behalf.

Amanda was a key team member representing Dr. Craig Wright in a $600 billion trial where it was alleged that David Kleiman had a partnership with Wright to invent and mine Bitcoin, generating a 50% stake in the technology. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Wright and found that Kleiman was not entitled to the Bitcoin fortune.

Amanda also represents third-party payers in several high-profile class action and multidistrict actions, including In re Metformin Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, a consolidated class action against several manufacturers and distributors of Metformin, the most prescribed type II diabetes drug in the United States; In re Philips Recalled CPAP, Bi-Level PAP, and Mechanical Ventilator Products Litigation, a multidistrict proceeding against the largest producer of CPAP and BiPAP machines in the world; and In re Chantix, a lawsuit related to Pfizer’s manufacture and sale of the Chantix drug that was contaminated with NDMA—a known carcinogen.

Not only does Amanda obtain exceptional results for her clients, but she is also actively engaged in her community. Amanda is president-elect of the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA), the largest voluntary bar association in Miami-Dade, and the president of CABA Pro Bono, which offers free legal services to low-income Florida residents. She is also active in The Florida Bar Business Law Section and is a past chair of the Business Litigation Committee and the Uniform Commercial Real Estate
Receivership Act Task Force. Amanda is also a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Academy (OLLA) Law Alumni Association and has served as a coach for OLLA’s mock trial team.

Amanda received her law degree from Villanova University School of Law during which time she was a member and director of external competitions for the Villanova Law Moot Court Board. Upon graduation, Amanda was awarded the Moot Court Distinguished Service Award and the Dorothy Day Pro Bono Award. She was also the president of the Hispanic American Law Student Association. Before attending law school, she graduated with honors from Florida International University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in history.



Karen Cespedes is a complex litigation consultant at Esquire Deposition Solutions, LLC, a national provider of deposition management solutions. As a proven sales professional and legal strategist, Karen works with corporations, law firms, attorneys and their teams to effectively manage the deposition process. In 2017 Karen earned the Publico Award by the Cuban American Bar Association for providing relief to Hurricane Irma victims by recruiting and coordinating volunteering for legal clinics. 

She attended Florida State University and completed her master’s at Florida International University in international relations and East Asian studies. She is a former state department fellow and led impressive portfolios during her tenure at the American Institute in Taipei, Taiwan. She currently sits on The Florida Bar’s Statewide Citizens Advisory Committee and The Florida Bar’s 11th Circuit Grievance Committee.  



Melissa C. Pallett-Vasquez, Esq. is a partner in Bilzin Sumberg’s trial and litigation group and handles complex business disputes in both federal and state courts, as well as arbitration. She is also the firm’s hiring partner, leading recruitment efforts and supporting Bilzin Sumberg’s diversity goals.

Pallett-Vasquez has been active with the American Bar Association since 2016 and currently serves as the budget officer for the international law section and the finance officer class representative for the Section Officers Conference. She is also a member of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade, serves as volunteer attorney ad litem for lawyers for Children America, and is president of the South Florida Chapter of the McGill Alumni Association.

She has been honored with distinctions such as recognition by Chambers USA, the litigation award for General Commercial, and an Innovators Honoree title from the Daily Business Review. Additionally, she is recognized as a Florida Trailblazer by the Daily Business Review, a Crisis Leadership Trailblazer by the National Law Journal, and listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation. Pallett-Vasquez earned her Juris Doctor with honors from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law and received her Bachelor of Arts from McGill University.





Javier Ley-Soto currently serves as the General Counsel for Miami Dade College, the largest campus-based institution of higher learning in the United States with over 165,000 students, overseeing all general counsel matters, including employment, contractual, risk management, public records and general administration, for the college and its eight campuses. Immediately preceding this position, Ley-Soto served as the Chief Legal Counsel for the Florida Department of Children and Families managing the Department’s regional general counsel matters for Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, and personally handled numerous administrative hearings, trials and appeals in all the courts of Florida. He started his legal career at a boutique law firm on Miami Beach handling commercial litigation matters. Ley-Soto also clerked at the Third District Court of Appeal for the Honorable David M. Gersten. He has been a member of CABA since graduating from St. Thomas University School of Law where he was the Student Bar Association President, Student Senator and founding member of the St. Thomas More Catholic Law Society. He was awarded 2010 Assistant General Counsel of the Year award by the Florida Government Bar Association, a Finalist for the Miami Chamber of Commerce 2011 and 2014 HYPE Awards Go-Getter Award and recognized for Outstanding Humanitarian Support during Operation Repatriation following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. He currently serves president of the Cuban American Bar Association and member of the Neighborhood Improvement Committee for the Town of Miami Lakes, and previously as Treasurer the Gator Club of Miami.



Idalberto de Armas serves as executive leadership for First Horizon Bank. De Armas serves on the Leadership Florida Board of Directors, the Greater Miami YMCA Board and the Citizens Board of the University of Miami. Early in his career he worked as an aide for the late U.S. Senator Claude Pepper in Washington, D.C. 



Dana L. Clay, APR is a public relations professional and current advisor at EvClay Public Relations, a South Florida boutique PR agency, where she formerly served as president. Clay is an accredited member and counselor of the Public Relations Society of America and a founding member and long-standing professional of various community service organizations. She was a founding member of the Bankers Club, on the advisory panel of Model Cities, and an active member of multiple civic organizations such as Women in Communications, Feeding South Florida, the Junior League of Miami, Audubon Society, Health Systems Agency, The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, and the Latin Chamber of Commerce (CAMACOL).

Clay has been a board member of The Salvation Army for more than 55 years. In 2022, she received their esteemed William Booth Award, the organization’s highest individual recognition, for her outstanding contributions to the betterment of humanity, through personal participation in civic and philanthropic affairs. Clay attended Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina, and earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama.



Maria D. Garcia is a partner and co–chair of the Healthcare Practice at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, focusing her practice on health care law and commercial litigation. She received her B.A. in political science, magna cum laude, from Florida International University. Garcia then earned her Juris Doctor from Florida International University College of Law. 

At her alma mater she taught as an adjunct professor on health-care law: Medicare and Medicaid compliance and reimbursement issues. She is a member of the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. 

Maria’s work as a health-care attorney has been recognized by Chambers USA, which has ranked her in this category. By Super Lawyers Magazine and the South Florida Legal Guide, Garcia was named a “Top Lawyer” in health care. In addition, Florida Trend Magazine has named her as one of the 500 Most Influential Business Leaders in the state of Florida.   




Giselle Gutierrez is a Shareholder in the Labor & Employment and Litigation Departments. Her labor and employment experience includes representing clients before administrative agencies (such as the EEOC and the NLRB) and federal and state courts in cases involving employment discrimination, retaliation, unpaid wages, defamation and claims under the FMLA, ADA, ADEA, Title VII, and more. Gutierrez obtained a B.S. from Florida International University and a J.D. from the University of Florida Levin college of Law. 

She handles non-compete and employment contract litigation, and counsels’ clients on data security issues. Giselle clerked for The Honorable Paul C. Huck, United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida and is research and special works editor for Florida Law Review. 



Daniel Martinez has over 25 years of banking experience. Martinez is currently chief banking officer and regional market executive at Professional Bank. He attended Nova Southeastern University and studied business administration and management. Prior to joining Professional Bank, he worked for financial institutions, such as Citibank, Union Planters Bank-Private Banking Division and Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust Company. He serviced and formulated relationships with high-net-worth individuals and families as well as professionals within the legal, accounting and medical communities.  



Jordi Martínez-Cid is a partner at León Cosgrove LLP where he handles all manner of complex commercial litigation and arbitration. A graduate of Yale Law School and the University of Michigan, Mr. Martínez-Cid clerked for the Honorable Federico A. Moreno in the Southern District of Florida.  

Martínez-Cid has helped banks and other lending institutions navigate the regulatory landscape with an emphasis on avoiding consumer harm, while representing multinationals in complex proceedings. He has worked in-house with NBCUniversal and Telemundo, overseeing domestic and international litigation matters for those entities and their affiliates. Additionally, he represents corporate and individual clients in criminal, fraud-related, extradition and post-conviction relief cases. 





Sergio L. Mendez has more than 35 years of experience in probate, guardianship, and real propriety law. He attended Suffolk University Law School, and has experience as a professor at Florida International University, where he taught wills, trusts and estates. He is a founding partner of the Law Offices of Mendez & Mendez and practiced with his late father for 15 years. 

In 1999, Mendez was president of the Cuban American Bar Association. He has been licensed for over 20 years by U.S. Department of Treasury in the office of foreign assets control.  

Today, he is one of the few attorneys licensed to handle Cuban asset control regulations. He has handled hundreds of cases across the spectrum of civil litigation and is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell.  




Nicole Mestre, Esq. has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1999. She spent the early part of her career as an associate in the appellate and products liability departments of Adorno & Yoss. In 2006, after gaining invaluable experience, Mestre opened up her own firm specializing in family and appellate law, which are her exclusive areas of practice. Since opening her own firm, she has been recognized by her peers for her commitment and dedication to the legal community.

In 2011, Mestre received AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which serves as the highest peer-review rating for legal ability and ethical standards. In addition, she was also named as an “Up & Comer” by Florida Trend Magazine, which recognizes a small percentage of attorneys throughout Florida.

Mestre currently serves on the CABA Board of Directors and University of Miami Law School Alumni Board. Furthermore, she has served as the Chair on Family Law for the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Her commitment and dedication has been acknowledged throughout the legal community–she has been appointed as Guardian ad Litem by Family Court Judges, and has represented disabled individuals in pro bono dissolution of marriage actions.

Mestre attended Florida International University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and was a part of the Honor’s Program. She also attended the University of Miami Law School, where she was a recipient of the Dean’s Honor Scholarship and the Minority Participation in Legal Education Scholarship. Throughout her legal education, she interned at the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Third District Court of Appeal.

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