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2016 Forty Attorneys Under 40 Presentation

Sulema  Medrano
Sulema Medrano
SmithAmundsen
▶Commercial litigation
40 Under Class – 2016

Sulema Medrano as of the writing of this profile had already successfully tried more than 24 bench trials and won more than 18 criminal appellate briefs and motions. That’s impressive. And it’s even more so when you consider that Medrano has yet to hit her 33rd birthday.

While Medrano has significant trial and appellate experience, she has built her reputation on the scores of cases that she has resolved before trial, either through a dispositive motion or settlement.

With a practice in the competitive field of commercial litigation, Medrano has earned a steady stream of devoted clients, clients who recognize that this young lawyer’s combination of tenacity and legal knowledge is a rarity. Among the litigation she routinely handles, Medrano has successfully defended Fortune 25 companies in several matters, including complex breach of contract disputes, spoliation and extra-contractual claims, and has advised various corporate clients in actions alleging breach of fiduciary duty, consumer fraud and misrepresentation claims.

“I have always said that Sulema is one of the few people who was truly born to be in a court room,” said Kaitlyn Chenevert with the Illinois Office of the Attorney General. “She is always an advocate, and it comes across in everything that she does because Sulema is always looking for ways to help people solve their problems.”

Medrano has achieved many notable courtroom victories. She obtained summary judgment for an insurance company by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit based on its anti-stacking language. She obtained summary judgment, too, in favor of an agribusiness insurance company, earning a finding that the bodily injury liability coverages for each vehicle under the company’s policy may not be stacked and that the policy is not ambiguous as a matter of law.

Andrew Horvat, with the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, said that Medrano’s successes can’t be attributed simply to her legal acumen. There’s also Medrano’s rare ability to relate to her clients on a personal level.

“Sulema takes the time to truly understand her client’s business in an effort to understand how legal issues affect the client’s business,” Horvat said. “Sulema consistently goes this extra mile for her clients, thereby resulting in a comprehensive understanding of the factual and legal issues facing them.”

Others point to Medrano’s past experience as a Cook County state’s attorney in the county’s domestic violence division and criminal appeals division as another reason for her many courtroom victories.

“Sulema’s lawyering skills are unique because she excelled as a criminal prosecutor and is an exceptional civil litigator,” said Chicago attorney Anna Lozoya.

Lozoya said that Sulema sets herself apart with her commitment to her profession and community, too. She regularly mentors young associates at Chicago’s SmithAmundsen and is a member of the firm’s diversity committee. She is also the former president of the Hispanic National Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division, a forum for young minority attorneys to gather and discuss issues that impact their practice and development. Sulema currently serves as a Latina Commissioner for the Hispanic National Bar Association, focusing on the development of the next generation of lawyers.

In addition, Medrano volunteers for the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, which provides resources for victims of domestic violence. She is a host committeewoman with the network, a role in which she promotes events to raise money for the organization.

“I watched her argue in front of the Illinois Appellate Court and was blown away,” said Adam Zebelian with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. “While working with her in the Domestic Violence Division, I learned that she is also a great trial attorney.”

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