24 SUPERLAWYERS.COM A T TORNE YS SELEC TED TO SUPER LA WYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
HER ROLE MODELS: her mom, a journalist
and news director at Telemundo, the
predominant Spanish-language network in
Miami; one grandmother who was an author
and poet; and another who left Cuba with
little more than she could carry when Fidel
Castro came to power, then ran the family
real estate-investment business from home
once they settled in Miami.
Silva attended Wellesley College for
her undergrad degree—and played three
sports while she was at it, including
captaining the varsity soccer team.
“You learn how to lose,” she says of her
The college motto is Non Ministrari sed
days on the soccer, lacrosse and basketball
teams. “You learn how to shake off failure
and move forward. It builds self-esteem,
especially in women.”
She also learned a lot about
leadership—and mentorship—by serving
as a senator in student government.
Ministrare—or, as Silva paraphrases it,
serve, not be served.
“It’s only by serving people that you can
lead people,” she adds.
After law school at the University of
Florida, Silva came back south and worked
as a clerk at the 15th Judicial Circuit in
West Palm Beach. She spent two years
at the now-defunct Adorno & Yoss, doing
a lot of appellate work and commercial
litigation, then went to Baker & McKenzie
in 2005. After eight years of commercial
litigation and international arbitration
there, she moved on to MWE.
“It was a better platform for me to
practice international law,” says Silva, who
is bilingual. MWE has offices from Boston
to Brussels, Seoul to Silicon Valley and, via
a strategic alignment, in Shanghai.
“She’s full of energy, smart as a whip
and brings a lot of different things to
the table,” says Ira J. Coleman, the
partner-in-charge at MWE’s Miami office
and head of the Miami health industry
advisory practice. “She’s one of the
people out there working it,” he says.
“Everyone has something positive to say
She makes clients feel like she
understands their business and their
concerns, Coleman says, and makes it
look easy while she’s at it. One case he
recalls involved a non-compete issue.
Her client was worried that an important
employee who had left the business
would use confidential information
against the business owner. “Effie found
a way to handle it that made the client
comfortable,” Coleman says. She also
defused the client’s anger and even helped
the two retain a professional relationship.
Lee Stapleton, who practices complex
commercial litigation and white-collar
criminal defense at Baker & McKenzie,
was among the partners who interviewed
the young Silva and helped her advance
in her career.
“I was struck by her energy and
7. 3 percent of partner positions at U.S.
intellect,” Stapleton says. “I relied on her
and her good judgment daily.”
Silva, a petite Cuban-American woman,
sometimes feels like she’s “a unicorn” in
the legal world. “There are so few of us,”
she says, “and there really should be more,
because oftentimes there are a lot more
GCs that are women.”
According to the National Association
for Law Placement, minorities hold only
law firms. The numbers are even more
disturbing for minority women, who hold
only 2. 45 percent of partner positions.
For Hispanic women, the figure is 0.5
Few attorneys—and almost no
women—do what Silva does: health
care litigation as well as arbitration
and commercial litigation involving
international and domestic clients.
She has represented hospitals, health
care systems and physician groups in
arbitration and litigation over contract
and shareholder disputes and non-compete issues. She has also represented
companies from Latin America, Europe
and Asia, as well as the United States, in
cases ranging from contract disputes to
A few years ago, Silva was part of a
team retained to represent a German
multinational and its related companies
in China in class actions consolidated into
a multidistrict action, related state court
claims, and government investigations
arising out of the sale of allegedly defective
drywall. After a series of hurricanes hit
Florida a decade ago, consumers who used
the product began suing and complaining
of alleged odors and corrosive effects,
according to an NPR report.
Silva handled the electronic discovery
portion of the case, which was global in
scope involving German, Chinese and U.S.
laws with respect to data collection and
processing. Baker & McKenzie was the lead
firm during negotiations of the eventual
“Among the hundreds of attorneys with
whom I have practiced over the years, it
is difficult to identify anyone more driven
for her clients,” says Jordan Dresnick, a
colleague from their Baker & McKenzie
days. “Effie Silva’s extensive skills in
e-discovery, arbitration, complex litigation
and fluency in Spanish have catapulted
her to be one of the most in-demand, bet-
the-company litigators in town.”
Another case that Silva worked on
while at Baker & McKenzie—this one pro
bono—involved the way law enforcement
was dealing with data sharing in cases
It started with a 13-year-old girl who was
arrested in Miami Beach for shoplifting a
can of Coke. Her arrest information—like
that of arrested adults—was posted on the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
website. Information on that site is
available for sale to the public, including
data-mining companies that sell it to
clients such as employers conducting
background checks on potential
employees. During the case, Silva bought
the girl’s record herself for $23.
The girl’s family approached the
public defender’s office, and because
one state agency can’t sue another, the
public defender’s office contacted Baker
Juvenile arrests are supposed to be
confidential unless the child has three
misdemeanors or a felony—at least, that
was Silva’s interpretation of the statute. But
the FDLE had another take on its meaning.
Silva says, “I got calls from mothers all
over Florida”—complaining that their kids,
too, had been identified on the FDLE site.
The FDLE maintained that it was
within its rights to post the girl’s name,
says Thomas Findley, a partner at Messer
Caparello in Tallahassee who worked with
Silva on the case. Jurisdiction was moved
to Tallahassee at the FDLE’s request.