Interviews with NABL Members from NABL News
Member Spotlight: Maribel Mata Benedict, Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone, P.L.C., Chicago, IL
Tell us a little about yourself - your family, your hobbies, etc...
I am a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised on the Southeast side of Chicago. I went to college at Loyola University of Chicago where I majored in Philosophy, Political Science and Classical Civilization. I attended Loyola University School of Law in Chicago while working full time as a paralegal. After passing the bar I opened up a neighborhood law office in the northwest side of Chicago and was a general practitioner for 12 years. It was during that time that I began practicing in the area of public finance as a minority woman-owned law firm. Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP asked me to join them as a partner in 2006 as part of their public finance group, and I practiced there until I joined Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone P.L.C. in June 2015 as a principal in their public finance group. I enjoy reading biographies and going to art museums. I am an enthusiastic spectator of bullfighting, boxing and the opera. I am also a foodie and love to cook.
What first interested you in law?
I was the oldest and the only person in my family who knew how to speak English fluently, so from a young age I had to advocate for my parents, aunts and uncles and other non-English speaking members of my community who had no one else to speak for them. It was frustrating for me as an eight year old not to be able to understand what a property tax bill was, and so I thought that as a lawyer I would have the knowledge to be a better advocate.
What is your law specialization within public finance?
I am bond counsel, underwriters counsel and borrower counsel in taxable and tax-exempt financings for: bond issuers including governmental agencies, special districts and municipalities, and schools (K-8), universities, colleges, health care facilities and other nonprofit organizations. I also focus my practice on tax law and arbitrage rebate matters for city, county and state issuers.
What was the best career advice anyone ever gave you?
Have a mentor, have a champion, have at it!
How (and when) were you first introduced to NABL?
While a sole practitioner I was hired to be co-bond counsel on my very first bond deal. Just as soon as I got off the call with my issuer client, I grabbed my checkbook and ran to the NABL office which was located in Chicago and joined immediately. I knew about NABL because while educating myself in public finance I became very familiar with the excellent educational materials they publish and I knew NABL would be my best professional resource.
How has your participation and membership in NABL been of value to you and your practice?
NABL has been an invaluable source of information and professional camaraderie for me. While a sole practitioner I very much looked forward to attending NABL seminars and workshops so that I could learn and interact with fellow public finance professionals. I still consider NABL a great resource for those who want to learn more about the profession and who are looking for a welcoming place to network. NABL has given me the opportunity to be a leader by inviting me to be a member of the steering committee for the Bond Attorney Workshop.
As a member of the 2015 BAW Steering Committee, can you tell us about your plans for the “PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW?” panel this year?
I am very excited about being on the 2015 BAW Steering Committee. I have developed a public private partnerships panel for each session that is different so as to benefit those with little experience and those who are more experienced in the area. For example, the first session panel will be a “fundamentals” panel. The second will be a “hot topics” panel, and the third will be a “case studies” panel.
From the questionnaire made famous by Bernard Pivot and James Lipton, "What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?"
It’s difficult for me to think of being in a profession other than that of a public finance lawyer. I think it would be natural for me to take all of that experience and do something useful with it. Therefore I would either work for a not for profit organization that I am passionate about,or I would be a public servant and use what I have learned to benefit government.