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Officer Profiles

Mark B. Morse, Esq., President

Mark B. Morse, Esq. is President of the Rhode Island Bar Association. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island and the New England School of Law where he served as research editor of the New England Law Review. Mark lectures on a variety of legal issues, including ERISA litigation, evidence, subrogation liens, expert testimony, civil trial practice, the Rhode Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rhode Island domestic law.  He has volunteered as a judge to the regional law school mock trial competition, and acted as chief judge for the regional competition on multiple occasions. Mark served as editor in chief of the Rhode Island Bar Journal. He is a member of the Animal Law Committee, the Family Court Bench Bar Committee, the Superior Court Bench Bar Committee, and past chair of the Superior Court Bench Bar Committee and Annual Meeting Planning Committee. He also chaired the Subcommittee to Review and Revise the Rhode Island Civil Rules of Procedure enacted June 15, 2006. He is a fellow of the Rhode Island Bar Foundation. He is past president of the RI Association for Justice and presently serves on its Board of Governors.  Mark is also active in the American Association for Justice and served as Chair of the State Delegates, and as a member of its Executive Committee. He has been nominated through peer recognition as a “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters for twelve consecutive years in the state of Rhode Island. Mark was chosen by the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Commission to be co-editor of the Discovery and Depositions Rhode Island Practice Volume published in September 2010.  The publication was honored with an ACLEA's Best Award from the Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) for outstanding achievement in the category of Best Publication. He is legal counsel to Defenders of Animals, the Friends of the Music Mansion, and The Feinstein Foundation.  In 2011, Mark was awarded the Dorothy Lohmann Public Service Award for his work with Defenders of Animals. Mark is married with three children. 

Nicole J. Benjamin, Esq., President-elect

Nicole J. Benjamin, Esq. is President-Elect of the Rhode Island Bar Association.  She is a shareholder at Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. where she focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation.  With more than a decade of courtroom experience, Nicole has been recognized for her commercial litigation work by The Best Lawyers in America and Chambers USA America’s Leading Business Lawyers and she has been honored for her appellate advocacy with a Professional Excellence in the Law award.  She also is the recipient of the 2017 Rhode Island Bar Journal Lauren E. Jones, Esq. Writing Award.  Nicole was first introduced to the Rhode Island Bar Association while in college, having received the Rhode Island Bar Foundation Thomas F. Black Memorial Scholarship.  Since then, Nicole has been motivated by a desire to give back to the association that gave her the opportunity to pursue a law degree.  By her fourth year in practice, Nicole was elected to the Bar Association’s House of Delegates and, later, to the Executive Committee.  She also has co-chaired the Bar Association’s Strategic Planning Committee and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Rhode Island Bar Journal.  Nicole is a graduate of Roger Williams University School of Law and serves as Vice Chair of its Board of Directors. 


Christopher S. Gontarz, Esq., Treasurer

Christopher S. Gontarz, Esq. is the Treasurer of the Rhode Island Bar Association. He is of counsel at Lynch & Pine, Providence & Newport, concentrating on criminal defense, ethics, and professional misconduct. He is a former Special Assistant Attorney General in the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General. He serves on the Rhode Island Supreme Court Ethics Advisory Panel and was previously a commissioner on the Rhode Island Supreme Court Judicial Tenure and Discipline Commission. He is the 2008 recipient of the Dorothy Lohmann Community Service Award and the 2017 Joseph T. Houlihan Lifetime Mentor Award. He was chairperson of the Criminal Law Bench Bar Committee and was the president of the Newport County Bar Association from 1993 to 2007. He has represented the Bar Association on numerous legislative committees involving criminal law. He was elected to the American Law Institute (ALI) in 2017. He is the author of Sentencing in Superior Court, Guide to Superior Court Practice in Rhode Island published by MCLE, New England. He graduated from Salve Regina University, The American University, and The New England School of Law.

Patrick A. Guida, Esq. - Secretary

Patrick A. Guida, Esq. is Secretary of the Rhode Island Bar Association. He is a partner at Duffy & Sweeney Ltd. and is part of the firm’s banking and finance, business law, and real estate law teams. He has been providing legal services to institutional banking clients throughout New England for more than three decades, and previously served as in-house counsel for two major banks.  In 2022, he was elected President of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers and named an Excellence in the Law Hall of Fame honoree by Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly. He was recognized by Best Lawyers as the 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” for Banking and Finance in the Providence metro region. He is an elected Fellow of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers and a member of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Patrick is a member of both the Rhode Island Bar Foundation and the American Bar Foundation. In addition to serving on the Executive Committee over the last three years, he has served on the House of Delegates for more than ten years. Patrick served as chairperson of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee in 2019 and was an active member of that Committee for several years prior to that. He has been an active and enthusiastic participant in Continuing Legal Education Committee activities since 1995. He has also been very involved as an executive in several public education related activities since 1988.