Board of Directors
Shayna L. Sonnier, President
Shayna L. Sonnier is a partner in the law firm of Hunter, Hunter & Sonnier, L.L.C. Her primary practice is in the areas of family law, estate planning, successions, and general litigation. Shayna received her J.D. in 2003 from Dedman School of Law School at Southern Methodist University and her BA in 2000 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Ms. Sonnier is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Southwest Louisiana Bar Association. She currently serves on the board for the Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education and the Louisiana Bar Foundation. She just concluded serving as LSBA Treasurer, Development Committee Chair for the Louisiana Bar Foundation, and Chair of the Southwest Louisiana Community Partnership Panel.
She is passionate about her faith, family, community, and work and volunteers her time as part of numerous organizations and associations. In her free time, Shayna enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and animals, playing tennis, and traveling. Her favorite quote is, “We live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be.”
H. Minor Pipes, III, Vice-President/Treasurer
H. Minor Pipes, III is a founding member of the firm of Pipes Miles Beckman, L.L.C. He provides counsel in insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, construction law, general litigation, corporate litigation, and class actions.
Minor has always been very involved with the Louisiana State Bar Association and with the Louisiana Bar Foundation. He is the current President-elect of the LSBA, a Past President of the Louisiana Bar Foundation, Past Treasurer of the Louisiana State Bar Association, a past member of numerous Louisiana State Bar Association’s Nominating Committees, and a current member of the Budget and Audit Committees. Minor was selected as a member of the inaugural class of Leadership LSBA, working with leadership of the Louisiana State Bar Association on numerous projects to improve the legal profession. Minor also serves as Co-Chair of the Louisiana State Bar Association Summer School Committee.
Since being admitted to the Bar, Minor has tried numerous cases to decision, in both state and federal courts. Minor was the lead negotiator for the defendants in the Global Settlement of a national class action involving eight hundred settling defendants – the matter of In re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation (E.D. La. MDL No. 2047).
Minor has been recognized among the top 50 lawyers in the State of Louisiana by Louisiana Super Lawyers. He also has been recognized as a top lawyer by New Orleans Magazine, a leading lawyer in the city by Best Lawyers and New Orleans CityBusiness, and a “Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation.
Minor is a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers. His community involvement includes working with Trinity Episcopal School and numerous non-profits in the area, including Hogs for the Cause as a Board Member of Fleur de Que.
Honorable Rachael D. Johnson, Secretary
Rachael D. Johnson is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Law Offices of Julie E. Vaicius which serves as staff counsel in Louisiana for Hartford Insurance and its subsidiaries. Prior to her current position, Rachael was an assistant City Attorney with the City of Riviera Beach, FL, where she advised the city and its various boards on a variety of matters. Rachael began her legal career in 2005 as a law clerk for the Honorable Nadine Ramsey at Civil District Court in Orleans Parish. In 2006, she became an associate at the Gary, Williams, Finney law firm in Stuart, Florida representing hundreds of plaintiffs in Vioxx litigation, personal injury and wrongful death cases. She is a 2005 graduate of Tulane Law School where she was a member of the juvenile litigation law clinic and served on the Executive board of the Black Law Students Association. Rachael attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA where she received a B.A. in Psychology in 1998. She also has a Masters in Social Work from Smith College. Rachael practiced clinical and adoption social work in Atlanta, GA before returning to New Orleans for law school.
Rachael is active in numerous professional and civic organizations. She is a past President of the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, a member of Louisiana State Bar Association Board of Governors, the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel, the New Orleans Bar Association and a member of the A. P. Tureaud Chapter of the Inns of Court and the National Bar Association. She also serves on the executive board of the New Orleans Chapter of the Links, Inc. Rachael was born and raised in New of Orleans and is proud graduate of McDonogh #35 Senior High School.
Honorable Ivan Lemelle
Senior Judge Lemelle, a native of Opelousas, La., came to New Orleans in 1967 to attend Xavier University of Louisiana. He graduated with honors from Xavier in 1971 and Loyola University School of Law in 1974. During law school, he held law clerkships with Judge Robert F. Collins, New Orleans Legal Assistance Corp. (NOLAC), Thierry & Gerdes (successor to Tureaud & Morial firm), and Fifth Army Judge Advocate General Corps in San Antonio, TX.
After law school, Lemelle practiced as an Assistant District Attorney in New Orleans, then as member of Douglas, Nabonne & Wilkerson law firm, and with additional service as Assistant City Attorney for the City of New Orleans. From October 3, 1984 to 1998, he was U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. That appointment made him the first African American United States Magistrate Judge in Louisiana federal courts and only the sixth in the Nation. In 1998, President Clinton appointed Lemelle to the position of United States District Judge. He attained Senior Judge status in June 2015.
He has enjoyed service with numerous civic, fraternal and professional organizations; a sampling of that service includes the following: First Vice-Chair of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc. as Class A Trustee (nonalcoholic); Vice-Chair of Board for Alcoholics Anonymous Grapevine, Inc.; Board of Trustees for Xavier University of Louisiana; President of District Judges Association for the U. S. Fifth Circuit; American Bar Association Standing Committee on Diversity in the Judiciary; The Federal Judicial Center’s Advisory Committee for the Guide to Judicial Management of Cases in Alternate Dispute Resolution; President of the Loyola College of Law-Thomas More Inn of Court; Visiting Committee Board for Loyola College of Law; Treasurer of Amistad Research Center’s Executive Board; Federal Bar Association New Orleans Chapter Board of Directors; Trustee on the American Inns of Court Foundation Board; Board of Reconcile New Orleans, Inc. d/b/a Café Reconcile-a nonprofit committed to addressing generational poverty, violence and neglect in the New Orleans area, specifically “at risk” young adults; Federal Bar Association Bench Bar Committee; Sigma Pi Phi and Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternities. For his professional and community services, Senior Judge Lemelle has received numerous honors and awards too numerous to mention here.
C.A. “Hap” Martin III
Clarence A. “Hap” Martin, III born Orlando, Florida, April 19, 1955; admitted to bar, 1980, Louisiana. Education: Louisiana Tech University (B.S. Civil Engineering, 1977); Louisiana State University (J.D., 1980). Phi Delta Phi. Louisiana Section on Insurance, Negligence, Compensation and Admiralty Law (Member of Executive Council 1988 – Present, Chairperson 1991-1992); Mediation Training (Basic 1996, Advanced 1998); Arbitration Training (2002). Member: Fourth Judicial District, Louisiana State and American Bar Associations; Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel; Judge Fred Fudickar Chapter of the American Inns of Court (Sec.-Treas. 1999-2003). Practice Areas: Civil Litigation; Trial Practice; Appellate Practice; Commercial Law; Contracts; Corporate Law; Creditor Bankruptcy; Employment Law; Products Liability; Personal Injury Law; Real Estate; Mediation; Arbitration.
Bradley J. Tate
Bradley J. Tate is a Senior Tax Manager in the New Orleans office of Hannis T. Bourgeois, LLP. He received a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2005 and his JD/BCL from Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 2008. He also earned an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Alabama in 2012. He is licensed to practice in Louisiana and in the United States Tax Court.
Brad served as the 2017-2018 Chair of the Louisiana State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. Over the year he served as a district representative, secretary, and chair-elect of the YLD. He has been a member of the LSBA Committee on the Profession and Bar Governance Committee. He was appointed for a term as the ABA YLD Tax Committee Chairman. He is a member of the New Orleans Estate Planning Council and the New Orleans Planned Giving Council, along with the Jefferson, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans Bar Associations.
Dian Tooley-Knoblett is the Jones-Walker Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola New Orleans College of Law. She received her J.D. from LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1980, where she served as Executive Editor of the Louisiana Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif. Before joining the Loyola faculty in 1984, she served as law clerk to Chief Justice John A. Dixon Jr. of the Louisiana Supreme Court and was an attorney in the legal department of Shell Oil Company. She has taught over twenty common and civil law courses at Loyola, with publications in the areas of Louisiana property, sales and leases, community property, and conflict of laws. Since 1987 she has actively participated in law reform in Louisiana by serving as a member of the Council of the Louisiana State Law Institute and as a member of over thirty law reform advisory committees that have drafted legislation, principally revisions of Louisiana’s Civil Code. She is the lead editor of the tenth edition of Yiannopoulos’ Civil Law Property Coursebook and is co-author of a West treatise on Louisiana Civil Law Treatise on Sales, and an Aspen coursebook on Secured Credit.