The Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) Rising Stars Cohort Members

Topics: Leadership, Thomson Reuters

The Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law’s (TWLL’s) Rising Start Cohort program is a group comprised of several high-potential female law firm partners who are working together to learn from and network with some of the most influential leaders in the legal industry. 

These are the members of  TWLL Rising Stars Cohort Program:

Sonia Bain, Bryan Cave

There’s nothing like the real estate industry in New York. And for Sonia Bain, conquering its unique and exciting challenges every day is what gets her out of bed in the morning. Sonia is a transactional commercial real estate lawyer who represents developers, retail companies, hotel groups, landlords and tenants, and family offices with acquisitions, dispositions, development, ground and space leases, financing and leasing of numerous types of commercial real estate assets including mixed-use, residential, retail, hotel and industrial properties in New York City and also across the country.

Clients engage Sonia for her killer legal prowess, but they value her for her thoughtful guidance, counsel and partnership. Often coming to her to think through strategies and help them make decisions that are best for their business, Sonia is there for her clients for more than just their real estate legal needs.

In addition to her legal and business advice, Sonia is also frequently sought-after as a speaker, moderator and panelist on topics relating to the real estate industry. Sonia also serves as a mentor to other women in the real estate industry. As co-chair of the WX Mentoring Committee which promotes and supports women in commercial real estate, Sonia is a passionate supporter of fostering the success of talented women entering careers in real estate.

Laura Kaufmann Belkhayat, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Laura Kaufmann Belkhayat represents corporate clients, private equity sponsors, REITs and investment banks in a variety of capital markets transactions, including public and private offerings of equity and debt securities and initial public offerings, as well as acquisition finance, spin-off and restructuring transactions. Laura’s experience includes advising on issuances of investment grade and high-yield indebtedness for both issuers and underwriters.


Laura represents numerous REIT clients and underwriters of REIT securities in a wide variety of transactions. She has represented SL Green Realty Corp. in a number of financings, including offerings of senior notes, exchangeable notes and common and preferred stock, as well as debt tender offers and issuances of units for property acquisitions; and Darden Restaurants in the separation of a portion of its real estate assets into a separate, publicly traded REIT called Four Corners Property Trust.

Laura advises on M&A-related matters, including in particular on acquisition finance, private equity financings and strategic investments and financial arrangements, including preferred stock and debt instruments. Her practice also focuses on representing financial institutions in connection with a variety of securities offerings.

Ellen Ching, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison


Ellen Ching is a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where she is a member of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group. She focuses her practice on mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings and other transactional matters.

Ellen has represented private equity funds and publicly traded and privately held companies across a broad array of industries including hospitality, healthcare, shipping and consumer products. Ellen has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by the New York Law Journal® and named as a finalist in Private Funds Management’s “30 under 40.” She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Lawyers Alliance for New York. Ellen is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

Laura Friedrich, Shearman & Sterling

Laura Friedrich is the head of the global investment Funds Group  at Shearman & Sterling, LLP. She has extensive experience in the fund formation area, representing both fund sponsors and limited partners. She works with US and international private equity, venture capital and hedge funds and their sponsors, with investments in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Africa, India, the Middle East, and Asia.

Laura has led many multi-billion dollar fund raisings, as well as more modest fundraising efforts for middle market, regional and sector-specific funds. She has represented sponsors across a variety of asset categories, including buy-out, real estate, funds of funds, debt, energy, infrastructure, transportation, and media.

Rising Stars Cohort

Laura also provides ongoing advice to funds and their sponsors on the full spectrum of private equity fund matters, including ongoing business and transactional matters (including co-investments), internal management arrangements and regulatory and compliance requirements. Laura has represented prominent US and global fund sponsors as well as major investors in their investments across global private fund asset classes.

She earned her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was Executive Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and holds an A.B. with Honors in Economics, magna cum laude, from University of California, Berkeley.

Andrea Gede-Lange, Fried Frank


Andrea Gede-Lange is a corporate partner in the Mergers and Acquisitions and Private Equity Practice of Fried Frank, resident in the firm’s New York office. Andrea regularly represents private equity firms, investors, and public and private companies in domestic and cross-border transactions, including leveraged buyouts, stock and asset purchases, divestitures, carve-out transactions, joint ventures and recapitalizations. She also advises clients on corporate governance issues, securities laws compliance and general corporate matters.

In addition, Andrea leads the sustainability committee in New York and assists in the M&A knowledge management function at the firm. She also contributes to the firm’s pro bono practice, including having worked with Her Justice, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and Start Small Think Big.

Andrea received her LLB, BCL and MBA from McGill University in 2005 and her BA from Mount Allison University in 2000. She is admitted to practice in New York and in Ontario.

Melissa Hill, Morgan Lewis

Melissa Hill concentrates on complex employee benefits litigation and general employment litigation including ERISA litigation and employee benefits matters, employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and wage and hour litigation. She also handles single and multi-plaintiff, and complex collective and class actions before U.S. federal and state courts.

In addition to litigation, Melissa counsels clients from many industries on overtime requirements, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemptions, state wage payment statutes, commission plans and day-to-day employment issues such as adverse employment decisions and litigation avoidance.

She previously represented clients in complex commercial litigation matters for a prestigious Philadelphia law firm. She also served as a clinical intern in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. She received her J.D. in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.S. from the University of Delaware in 2001.

Alice Hsu, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Alice Hsu is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and her practice focuses on capital markets and corporate governance matters. Alice advises boards of directors, issuers, underwriters and investors in public offerings and private placements of equity and debt securities and general corporate matters.

Rising Stars Cohort

Alice is a strategic advisor to boards of directors, investors, underwriters and emerging growth and seasoned public companies on a wide variety of matters relating to securities regulation, corporate governance and other general corporate matters. She also regularly counsels companies regarding SEC reporting and disclosure issues, stockholder meetings, proxy statements and proxy mechanics, as well as advises public companies with respect to defensive review matters, including implementation of shareholder rights plans and related matters. She is the co-head of the firm’s social media task force and a member of the New York office’s hiring committee.

Alice is co-chair of the Corporate Leadership Committee for the New York Women’s Foundation, and is a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s Next Generation Advisory Board. She received her J.D. in 1999 from Loyola Law School and her B.A. in 1996 from
Wellesley College.

Kristin L. Mendoza, Latham & Watkins

Kristin L. Mendoza is a partner in the Corporate Department of the New York office of Latham & Watkins. She is also a member of the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, Public Company Representation, Project Finance and Oil & Gas Transactions practices.

Kristin advises public and private companies, including private equity firms and strategic investors, in connection with domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, reorganizations and other general corporate matters, focusing in the energy sector.

Kristin worked for one year as in-house legal counsel on secondment to GE Oil & Gas, covering the Middle East, India and Africa from Doha and Dubai. Her work included advising on and negotiating transactions with multinational oil companies and state-owned oil companies operating in the region.

Kristin received a B.A. from Yale College in 2001, an A.M. from Harvard University in 2004, a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 2008 and an LL.M. from the University of London – School of Oriental and African Studies in 2009.

Kristin also maintains an active pro bono portfolio of matters relating to rule of law and media
freedoms with the International Senior Lawyers Project.

Jessica Tuchinsky, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Jessica Tuchinsky is a partner in Simpson Thacher’s Banking and Credit Practice in the firm’s New York office. The Banking and Credit Practice is highly regarded on a national and global scale. The firm recently was named “Finance Team of the Year” by Chambers USA.


Jessica regularly represents leading financial institutions and investment banks with the arrangement and syndication of senior credit facilities, including acquisition, bridge and other corporate financings. She has significant experience in complicated financings in the leveraged finance, investment grade, and asset-based markets. Her financial and investment banking clients have included JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, among others.

Jessica launched her legal career at Simpson Thacher in 2006 and was named partner in 2016. She received her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School and her B.A., summa cum laude, in 2002 from the University of Pennsylvania where she was a University Trustee Scholar.


Temitope K. Yusuf, Arent Fox

Temitope K. Yusuf is a partner in the Government Enforcement & White Collar and Labor & Employment groups in New York and a key member of Arent Fox’s Business Compliance & Integrity Monitorships team. Tope recently served as the Deputy Independent Consultant for one of the world’s largest financial institutions, and she was responsible for overseeing a team that reviewed the implementation of improvements to the institution’s corporate governance, OFAC sanctions and BSA/AML compliance policies.

Tope frequently advises corporations and individuals under investigation by the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, and state and local law enforcement agencies. She counsels clients on compliance issues and regularly conducts global investigations pertaining to U.S. law.

She also represents corporations in various employment-related matters including misclassification allegations, discrimination claims, wage and hour disputes and inquiries from the Department of Labor. She frequently provides clients with guidance on human resources audits, employee manuals, social media issues and compliance training on federal, state and local laws.

Tope was a 2015 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) fellow and was one of 15 attorneys across the country selected as a 2016 Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) Rising Star.