WARWICK— Melina Trudeau, Krista Schmitz and Michael Forte, Jr, of The Law Firm
of Olenn & Penza LLP, were recently named Partners after each achieved outstanding results in
pushing the firm forward and successes inside the courtroom.
Trudeau, an attorney licensed to practice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, joined the
firm in 2004. Her work focuses on aiding small business clients and individual business owners
in making practical decisions regarding their legal needs. Her clients also include mental health
providers, individuals affected by malpractice and attorneys. She litigated in both jury and non-
jury trials in Rhode Island and represented her clients at countless mediations and arbitrations.
Additionally, Trudeau focuses on creating practices and procedures for her clients to
implement to reduce legal costs, drafting and negotiating contracts, addressing collection issues, and resolving employment related disputes.

“Small businesses are cost and expense conscious, I am very aware that my role is to
keeping those to a minimum while helping my clients make informed decisions about legal
issues proactively, instead of reactively,” Trudeau said.
Prior to attending law school at Suffolk University Law School, Trudeau graduated from
the University of Rhode Island. Trudeau worked as a substitute teacher in many Rhode Island
public schools. Most notably, as a long-term substitute teaching Italian to grades 9 through 12 in the Warwick School Department. Outside of the legal field, Melina currently serves on the Board of Directors for Project Weber/RENEW in Providence. She lives in Narragansett with her
husband, two young sons and a schnauzer.

Krista Schmitz began her career in insurance defense, where various insurance companies
retain her services to represent their clients in lawsuits filed against them for car accidents, slip
and falls, legal malpractice and other losses. She also uses this knowledge to represent
individuals who suffer personal injuries in car accidents, slip and falls, and other types of
accidents to recover against the responsible party.

Additionally, she represents people who feel wronged by employment
discrimination—be it race, age, gender, disability or sexual harassment.
“People contact me during very difficult and confusing times in their lives,” she said.
“They have either been involved in an accident or have been wrongfully terminated, and they
want another voice. I believe that it is important for me to assist them as an attorney and,
sometimes more importantly, as a person who can understand their situation and is there to listen to their side of the story.”

Schmitz represented various police officers and municipalities for lawsuits filed against
them alleging civil rights violations and negligence. She currently serves as Board Counsel for
the West Warwick Pension Board.

Since joining the firm in 2007, Schmitz received the honor of being named a “Rising
Star” by Super Lawyers from 2013-2017. She practices law in all state and federal courts in
Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Schmitz is a member of the Women’s Bar Association and
serves on the Kent County Bar Association Executive Board. She is currently an assistant chair
of the committee for the Rhode Island Bar Association Annual Meeting in June 2018, where she
will be moderating a program on the topic of sexual harassment. Krista received her
undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northeastern University and her law degree from
Suffolk University Law School in 2007.

Krista is a lifelong resident of Cranston. She and her husband have two kids enrolled in
Cranston Public Schools and she serves as the current Parents and Teachers of Park View
(PTPV) co-president at Park View Middle School and is the former PTO President of Dutemple

Michael Forte, Jr., who has been with the firm for a decade, can litigate in all of the state
and federal courts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He regularly works cases covered by the
press including the Providence and Pawtucket pension cases, the Central Coventry Fire District
Bankruptcy and the Rhode Island State Troopers Association lawsuit against the Attorney
General. His clients range from attorneys, to municipal entities, to businesses and individuals in matters ranging from complex constitutional civil rights cases, to corporate receivership matters and shareholder disputes. Forte also serves as legal counsel to the Rhode Island Senate
Committee on Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight.

Forte is a certified fraud examiner and his accounting and business knowledge has proven
to be very resourceful for his clients. He is also a member of the superior court receivership
panel. Michael teaches accounting and legal studies topics at the undergraduate level. He
graduated from Providence College and received his law degree and master of business
administration from Suffolk University Law School in 2008.

“I believe that the dynamic nature of business requires that lawyers work on crafting
client focused practical solutions,” he said. “Each business is unique and each business’s
individual strengths and weaknesses do not allow for a ‘one size fits all’ type of representation.
“Further, the needs of businesses evolve at each stage of the business life-cycle,” Forte
continued. “Whether it is a contract dispute, consulting on forming or expanding a business, or
winding down a business, I give clients the full story and realistic options so that clients can
make the decisions that are in their best interests.”

Michael lives in Cranston with his wife and their young son.
Established over 35 years ago, Olenn & Penza, LLP has grown into the largest litigation
firm in Kent County and among the Top 20 largest in Rhode Island. From the early days of
handling insurance defense cases and police matters, the firm has expanded its practice areas to include complex litigation matters for several major insurance companies; police, fire and other labor; admiralty and maritime; business transactions and litigation; landlord/tenant-construction; personal injury; probate and estates; professional liability and real estate litigation.

For more information regarding the practice, or for a free consultation and how the firm
would potentially be of service, please contact the firm at 401-737-3700 or visit their webpage at www.olenn-penza.com.

*The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all attorneys in the general practice of law.
The court does not licenses or certify any attorney as an expert or specialist in any particular
field of practice.

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