- Carol Avard
- Douglas D. Mohney
- Mark Zakhvatayev
- Matthew J. Hoffman
- Michael G. Sexton
- A. Porter Winston
- Staff I
- Staff II
- Staff III
- Staff IV
ATTORNEY CAROL AVARD handles Personal Injury, Social Security Disability in Florida and all other States, other Disability cases, as well as Employment Discrimination cases. She received her B.A. degree from Harvard University in l97l and attended Radcliffe Institute from 1967 to 1970. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from University of N.H. in l980. She is licensed to practice law in Florida and Massachusetts, and is a member of the American Association for Justice, The Florida Association for Justice and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives. She is also admitted to the Court of Veterans Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida and for the District of Massachusetts.
In addition, Attorney Avard was a participating faculty speaker for the American Association for Justice (AAJ's Social Security Success! Seminar, Las Vegas, NV, August l9-20, 2010, on the topic of "Using Jobs Software Tools and Internet Resources: O*NET, Job Browser Pro, and PAQ/ERI with Vocational Witnesses Before, During, and After ALJ Hearings; and Attorney Avard was a lecturer for the National Organization of Social Security Disability Claimants' Representatives, September 22-25, 20l0, Chicago, Il, speaking about using Software Tools and Internet Resources with Vocational Experts at hearings before Administrative Law Judges. Attorney Avard also was a participating lecturer for the Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Courses in Tampa and Miami at a seminar on Effective Advocacy Before The Appeals Council and Beyond, 2000. In October 2011, Attorney Avard was the faculty speaker for the National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Representatives conference in San Antonio, Texas, speaking about the Social Security Rulings used in the Sequential Evaluation Process at Hearings before Administrative Law Judges
She has been a member of the Medical Malpractice, Social Security, Federal Torts, and Motor Vehicle Collision sections of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. She has also been a member of the Bad Faith, Disability Law, Employment Law, ERISA Litigation, Insurance Law, Medical Negligence, Nursing Home, PI/Wrongful Death, Products Liability, Professional Negligence, and Social Security Disability Law sections of The Florida Association for Justice. She is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Additionally, she is an Accredited Veterans Disability Attorney.
She is Peer Review Rated for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability by Martindale-Hubble, an independent organization of attorneys and judges that has rated attorneys for over a hundred years.
She was also appointed by the Florida Bar Grievance Committee to serve as an expert witness on a Disability Case concerning reasonable Attorneys Fees. She was also appointed by the Chief Judge Anne C. Conway of the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, to serve on the Lawyer Advisory Committee on Rules for the U.S. District Court in 2011-2012.
She is a Board Certified Social Security Disability Attorney and one of six Board Certified Social Security Disability Attorneys in the state of Florida. The Board certification is provided by the National Board of Legal Specialty, accredited by the American Bar Association.
The certification process was an arduous one, requiring an examination, evaluation of writing samples and personal recommendations by other attorneys, Federal Court Judges, and Administrative Law Judges who hear Social Security Disability claims.
In her spare time she enjoys playing classical music on the piano and studies under Maestro William Noll. She also enjoys hiking.
Douglas D. Mohney
ATTORNEY DOUGLAS D. MOHNEY was born in Michigan and has lived in Southwest Florida for over 20 years. Mr. Mohney handles Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Nursing Home Neglect, Social Security Disability in Florida and other states, Veterans’ and Long Term Disability cases. He received his Juris Doctorate degree cum laude from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University in 1992. Mr. Mohney received his B.A. degree from Western Michigan University in 1989 in Political Science and Criminal Justice. Mr. Mohney also graduated from the Kalamazoo Valley Regional Police Academy in 1987. He is licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan. Mr. Mohney is a member of the American Association for Justice, the Florida Justice Association, the American Bar Association, the Southwest Florida Trial Lawyers Association and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. He is also admitted to the Court of Veteran’s Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida as well as the Northern District of Florida and the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
Mr. Mohney is Board Certified in Social Security Disability and one of only 6 Board Certified Social Security Attorneys in the State of Florida. The Board Certification is provided by the National Board of Legal Specialty and is accredited by the American Bar Association. He has also received his Accreditation as an Attorney from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is a privilege that carries specific responsibilities, for the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for Veterans benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to representing clients at all levels of cases including trials and, if necessary, appeals, Attorney Mohney has been asked to present professional practice lectures to other attorneys. In October of 2011, Mr. Mohney served as a faculty speaker for the American Association for Justice’s Social Security Success Seminar in Las Vegas, speaking about the Social Security Rulings used in determining disability by the government. In December of 2011, Mr. Mohney served as a faculty speaker for the Florida Justice Association in Fort Myers, FL speaking about tech tools for success in trial work for personal injury attorneys.
Mr. Mohney has also been recognized nationally by his peers and has been appointed to the leadership of the American Bar Association (ABA) General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division for 2013. In addition, he has been appointed to the ABA Committees for Alternate Dispute Resolution, Consumer Protection, Gaming Law and the Law Student Committee.
Attorney Mohney is married and he and his wife, Keleigh, have 2 children. An avid sportsman, Mr. Mohney has hunted all over the world and appeared with his son in several hunting programs for the Outdoor Channel and the Travel Channel.
MARK ZAKHVATAYEV (Pronounced za-hvay-tay-evh) obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida. While at Ave Maria he was a senior editor of the Law Review and worked at the school’s immigration law clinic. Before law school he obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He has been serving Immigration and Social Security disability clients at Avard Law Offices, P.A., since 2010. Before joining Avard Law as an Associate Attorney, he handled complex criminal appellate work at the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, and also worked on a variety of civil matters at the City Attorney’s Office in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Attorney Zakhvatayev had expertise in various stages of the Social Security disability process. He has successfully advocated for hundreds of Social Security claimants at the hearing level throughout Florida and many other states as well as hundreds of cases before the Social Security Appeals Council. He has handled dozens of Social Security disability appeals in federal courts for the Middle District of Florida in Fort Myers, Tampa, Ocala, and Orlando, and in the Southern District of Florida.
His other practice areas involved personal injury litigation and appeals, employment discrimination, long-term disability appeals, and veteran’s disability. He is an integral part of the firm’s immigration practice wherein he advises clients and other attorneys on immigration matters related to H1-B and other non-immigrant specialty worker visas, as well as student visas, and provides particular insight into matters involving immigration from Central and Eastern Europe. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
Attorney Zakhvatayev works with a diverse group of clients as he speaks French, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Russian. He is a native of Ukraine and is an avid fan of soccer (football to the rest of the world). He lives in Naples, Florida, and in spare time he enjoys linguistics, fishing, and bungy jumping.
Matthew J. Hoffman
ATTORNEY MATTHEW J. HOFFMAN received his Juris Doctor degree cum laude from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, MN where he was also a Senior Editor of the Law Review. He was one of only four students to receive recognition for performing over 250 hours of pro bono community service. He also obtained a Master’s Degree with distinction in Business Administration concentrating in international business from the Keller Graduate School of Management. As an undergraduate he studied at the University of Minnesota before graduating from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN.
He is admitted to practice in the state courts of both Florida and Minnesota, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and, as an Accredited Veterans Disability Attorney, the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals.
Attorney Hoffman has handled hundreds of social security disability hearings throughout Florida and as far away as Colorado, Puerto Rico, New York, and everywhere in between. He has also received his Accreditation as an Attorney from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is a privilege that carries specific responsibilities, for the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for Veterans benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs. Further, he has successfully drafted dozens of appeals to both the Social Security Appeals Council and Federal Courts. He has handled dozens of veterans disability appeals before the board of veterans appeals and court of veterans appeals. He also has successfully litigated numerous employment discrimination and personal injury cases including federal and state mediations. He oversees the immigration practice at Avard Law where he handles a variety of immigration matters including family, business and investor visas, adjustments of status, green cards, waivers, motions, and a variety of other issues. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
Before joining Avard Law Offices as an associate attorney he worked at a large Minneapolis law firm where he worked on two of the largest federal white-collar receivership cases in Minnesota history wherein he developed a plan and administered a program to compensate over 70,000 claimants from 100 different countries with total claims exceeding $17 million dollars. He also assisted the team managing the receivership of one of the largest fraud cases in the history of the United States. These claims exceeded $180 million dollars with litigation in nearly every U.S. state and funds recovered from as far away as Panama and Switzerland.
He clerked for the United States Department of Justice: Executive Office for Immigration Review wherein he drafted judicial opinions and orders on issues ranging from Central American and East African asylum cases, cancellation of removal, evidentiary and dispositive motions, sham marriage litigation, labor certifications and various other complex issues.
Before his legal career he spent nearly a decade in corporate sales managing regions where revenue exceeded $3 million annually. He is married with three young children and enjoys very loud rock music, movies, travel and a variety of sports. He firmly believes the Minnesota Vikings are the greatest football team in the history of the world and will gladly debate that point with anyone willing to challenge it. He has studied in both China and Spain, traveled to 47 states, 7 Canadian provinces and over 60 countries on 6 continents.
He is also an Adjunct Professor at Edison State College in Fort Myers where he teaches, Business, Human Resources, and Business and Employment Law.
Michael G. Sexton
ATTORNEY MICHAEL G. SEXTON has experience representing hundreds of claimants in hearings before Social Security Administrative Law Judges. In addition, he has filed appeals with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia. He is admitted to the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. He has also successfully represented plaintiffs who have employment discrimination cases in the U.S. District Court, and successfully resolved discrimination cases at mediation. In addition to handling immigration cases at Avard Law Offices, prior to coming to Avard Law Offices he had substantial immigration and criminal law experience. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). During his time with the Immigrant Rights Clinic he represented asylum applicants in proceedings before the Department of Homeland Security and Executive Office of Immigration Review. He advocated for indigent individuals with immigration issues. He was lead clinician in multiple political asylum proceedings, handling the direct questioning of witnesses and closing statement in removal hearings; fact gathering, research and analysis, motions, memorandums of law, counseling clients and witness preparation. He represented applicants at their interviews with Adjudicating Asylum Officers at the Department of Homeland Security. He prepared and filed asylum denial rebuttals, U-Visa petitions, applications for N-648 Medical Disability Waivers, and FOIA requests. In addition, he was an Assistant Public Defender in Hillsborough County, Florida where his duties included representing defendants in court at evidentiary and adjudicatory hearings and challenging probable cause issues at preliminary presentation court, as well as challenging Baker Act petitions. And during his time with the Hillsborough County Public Defender’s Office he represented hundreds of juveniles in delinquency court. He received his J.D. degree from Florida Coastal School of Law where he worked in the Florida Coastal School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic. He studied abroad at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica with Santa Clara School of Law. He was on the dean’s list, received an honors book award in criminal procedure, and was a pro bono honors recipient. He has a B.A. in English Literature from Florida State University.
A. Porter Winston
ATTORNEY ANNALEIGH PORTER WINSTON attended Northwestern University, Sarah Lawrence College, received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Boston University and her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1980. She practiced family and corporate law in Maine and Massachusetts before relocating to Florida where she has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1989. From 1990 to 2006, she was Senior Legal Counsel for the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families prosecuting child abuse cases and termination of parental rights. She has handled hundreds of disability hearings before Social Security Administrative Law Judges in Florida, South Carolina, Maine and Vermont.
In her spare time, she is writing a mystery novel.
Robert Hicks is a legal assistant and the Business Manager. He assists the attorneys on research and case development, as well as computer
hardware and software management. He received his Bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1971 and has been working in the legal field
for 14 years. He is on the Boards of Directors of Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, Cape Coral Municipal Charter Schools Foundation, the
Classic Chambers Concerts of Naples, the Board of the Harvard Club of Lee County and is on the Board for Arts Naples World Festival.
C. Robert Linne, Ph.D. is a legal assistant supporting the attorneys with Personal Injury, Disability, Veterans and Long Term Disability appeals.
He studied at Harvard University Divinity School from 1967-1970 and Northwestern University where he received his Ph.D. He also received an M.A.
degree from Michigan State. He was an Assistant Professor at Florida State University from 1976 to 1980 and an instructor at Edison College
from 1981-2002. Prior to working at Avard Law Offices in 1999, he also worked with at-risk youth and their families in therapeutic foster case
and was a Program Director of a network of services provided to these families. In addition he was a therapist at Lee Mental Health.
Barbara Roig is an Office Manager and has 17 years experience assisting the attorneys in the processing and filing of Personal Injury and
Disability claims from the initial through the appellate levels. She works extensively in maintaining the Personal Injury court pleading's
and with the Social Security Administration Headquarters staff in Baltimore completing our clients claims.
Dina Fanora has worked in the legal field since 1992, handling Personal Injury, Insurance, Real Estate, Mortgages, and Medical Records Development
on Disability cases. She attended Nassau Community College, Uniondale, NY, where she studied Child Development.
Lisa Eshelman has assisted attorneys in the legal field since 1990, handling civil litigation and bankruptcy filings.
She has worked as a legal assistant in both Maryland and Florida.
Denys Beecher is a legal assistant handling Social Security Disability case development. Educated at the University of South Florida,
he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Florida Fencing Academy and is former Chairman of the Central Florida
Division of the US Fencing Association.
Gavin Dougherty is a Legal Assistant handling the intake of Social Security Disability cases and the development of Personal Injury cases.
Having received his Bachelor degree in Percussion Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, Gavin is also a professional musician,
freelancing throughout Southwest Florida.
Karen Plum-Herring has 31 years experience working in the Hearing Offices (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) for Social Security in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Fargo, North Dakota. She was responsible for writing decisions for the Administrative Law Judges.
Elizabeth Del Rosario is a Paralegal in the Immigration Department assisting attorneys processing Immigration cases. She is pursuing her bachelor's degree in legal studies and business. Elizabeth is bi-lingual and fluent in Spanish. She is active in her church choir and enjoys time with her family.
Corey Purcell is a legal assistant handling disability case development. He received his B.A. degree in Anthropology from the University
of Pennsylvania, where he was a varsity fencer and All-Ivy team member in 2006.
T. Michelle Patroni is a paralegal in the Personal Injury Department. She assists the attorneys with Personal Injury, Long Term Disability litigation, discovery, settlement demands, and research. She is fluent in sign language and has experience as a paralegal since 1992 in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Fort Myers. She graduated with a B.A. degree from University of Pennsylvania in 2008, where she was on the Dean’s List. She enjoys doing volunteer work for animal shelters and rescue missions
Peggy Prossen is a legal assistant with an A.S. degree in Legal Assisting in Science from Miami-Dade Community College. She is a certified
legal assistant with the National Association of Legal Assistants. She has been assisting attorneys for many years in insurance defense, workman's
compensation defense, and family law.
Robin Huffer is the Accounts/HR manager and has experience as a controller and office supervisor handling accounts payable and receivable,
trust account, contracts, and human resources. She has a B.S. in Accounting from the University of South Florida.
Mary Bray Onofrei is a Legal Assistant and liaisons with Attorneys on Social Security Personal Injury, and Immigration cases. She also has experience working for United Way in several states, and was the President, Vice President, and Secretary of the United Way of Florida. She has also worked as a Musical Agent and Space Planner. She holds a B .F.A. from the University of Colorado.