MEET THE STAFF

Our experienced, award-winning team has served more than 15,000 immigrant clients in North Carolina. No matter what challenge you’re facing, we are here to help.


Attorneys


Richard “Bert” Diener, Attorney
If, as some people seem to think, our profession is a constant battle, Bert comes to the fray particularly well-prepared. Serving four years in the United States Marine Corps, Bert’s travels included postings in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Okinawa, Japan; and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. While earning his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was selected to be a member of the UNC National Trial Team. Both he and fellow attorney Russell Johnson were trial team partners in law school and over a decade later, have joined to fight for the under-served. Bert has proven himself willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in his efforts to help others. And when discussing his work, he often quotes the Texas attorney Joe Jamail, “if you are not emotionally involved, your client is not getting your best effort.”


Elaine Hartman, Attorney

Originally from Ohio, Elaine has lived in NC for more than a decade. While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill she was inspired by an acquaintance’s immigration story and decided to attend Carolina Law. She worked as a Comments Editor on the North Carolina Law Review and participated in the Immigration Clinic. When not working at an immigration attorney at Diener Law, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and shopping at thrift stores.


Adam Roberts, Attorney
Adam was born and raised in Newberry, South Carolina and attended Newberry College where he graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. He then left South Carolina and moved to Greensboro, North Carolina in order to attend law school at Elon University School of Law, where he discovered his passion for being in the courtroom. He gained experience in the court room by interning with the Guilford County Public Defenders’ Office and the Federal Public Defenders’ Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, where he authored an article that was published discussing the importance of criminal attorneys understanding how their clients’ cases can effect their immigration status. Also, he competed on Elon Law’ Competition Trial team and was awarded the International Academy of Trial Lawyer’s Student Advocate Award and was inducted into the Order of the Barristers. He was also a staff member of the Elon Law Review and his law review Note entitled “Providing Safety for Sanctuary Cities: The Constitutional and Policy Arguments Supporting the Enactment of Unrestrictive Laws and Polices by Sanctuary Cities and States” was selected to be published in an upcoming volume of the Elon Law Review. After graduating from law school in 2017, Adam joined Diener Law where he gets to be in the courtroom everyday representing clients in criminal, traffic, and domestic cases.


Adrianna Ingram, Attorney
Adrianna grew up a typical “military brat” living in Germany, Texas and South Carolina before settling in the small town of Johnsonville, NC, right outside of Fort Bragg. Adrianna’s passion for law was sparked when she was 11 and her aunt was viciously murdered. She fell in love with the judicial system after attending the trial. After attending Winston-Salem State University for her undergraduate degree in justice studies, graduating Cum Laude, Adrianna continued her education at Charlotte School of Law. During her first semester of law school, she attended an immigration reform seminar and became very intrigued and passionate about immigration law. As a student attorney, Adrianna worked for the Immigration Clinic in Charlotte handling removal proceedings, asylum cases and family-based visas. At IBM she did employment visas before joining the Diener Law family where she handles domestic, criminal and traffic cases and works on U-visas. Adrianna is very outgoing and family oriented. She loves traveling and spending time with family and friends..


Ashley Hilliard, Attorney
Ashley Hilliard joined Diener Law in 2017. Ashley is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. While in high school, Ashley was active in Student Council, Key Club and volunteered with the Wake County Teen Court Program as a peer juror and a peer attorney. Ashley’s volunteer efforts led her to pursue her undergraduate degree from UNC Greensboro, where she double majored in English and Political Science. In 2012, Ashley graduated from UNC Greensboro with honors and worked for a year as an HR Assistant prior to attending law school at North Carolina Central University School of Law. While in law school, Ashley found ways to nurture her passion for volunteering by joining the Pro Bono Council as a first-year law student. Through the Council, Ashley was able to re-charter the NCCU Innocence Project, a student organization that examines felony inmates’ claims of innocence. While at NCCU Law, Ashley also served as a staff editor and editor-in-chief of the law journal, and interned for the Wake County Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and the Wake County Family Court Office. Ashley worked for several law firms in the area of e-Discovery before joining Diener Law. In her free time, Ashley enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, boxing and spending time with her family and friends.


Russell Johnson, Attorney
Russell Johnson joined Diener Law in 2015 after spending more than a decade as one of the principal litigators at Howard, Stallings, From & Hutson, where his practice was focused on serious injury cases and complex commercial litigation. Russell has successfully handled catastrophic injury and death cases in areas such as car wrecks, medical malpractice, products liability, and dram shop liability. In commercial cases, Russell has obtained judgments in excess of a million dollars and has successfully defended multi-million dollar claims. For each of the past three years, Russell was selected by his peers to Super Lawyers Magazine’s Rising Star List (awarded to less than 2.5% of eligible attorneys.)
In 2004, Russell graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Law, where he was Executive Editor of the First Amendment Law Review and a selected member of the Broun National Trial Team, along with firm founder, Bert Diener. During law school Russell also won a Gressman-Pollit Award for Appellate Advocacy, a Best Attorney Award at UNC’s 1L Mock Trial Competition, and authored the article “One Nation Under God: A Poorly Chosen Battle in the War Over Separation of Church and State.” Russell’s undergraduate degree is from West Virginia University where he graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honors fraternities, as well as the Golden Key National Honor Society.


Legal Professionals


Margaret McLaurin, NC Certified Paralegal
Margaret began working with Diener Law in February 2015 as an addition to the worker’s compensation team. She has a degree from Louisburg College and received her paralegal certification from the N.C. State Bar in April of 2006. After years of experience in personal injury, Margaret tried something new and began working in worker’s compensation in 2002. Her compassion is helpful in working with clients so they receive everything in which they are entitled. Raised in Clayton, North Carolina, Margaret is the proud mother of two daughters, Bethany and Candace, and the very proud grandmother of Brantley. On weekends, she enjoys cooking, working in the yard and taking on new DIY projects.


Scott Brown, Litigation Coordinator
As the litigation coordinator Scott manages the firm’s civil and domestic caseload and deadlines, and assists with the firm’s personal injury and worker’s compensation cases. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Scott received an A.B. cum laude in Comparative Literature from Harvard College and a J.D. from UNC Law in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Scott then practiced law for a number of years in Atlanta, working as Law Clerk to two U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judges, then as Director of Court Services at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and later as Assistant Regional Counsel for the Social Security Administration. Scott joined Diener Law in November 2009. Scott has worked extensively with a non-profit group that assists homeless veterans and serves on the Advisory Board of Directors for the NC FIELD, Inc., a local non-profit group that promotes “justice and equality by increasing access to opportunities for farm-working communities in North Carolina.” In his free time, Scott enjoys reading, cooking, doing crossword puzzles and traveling.


Marvin Aceituno, Legal Professional
Our newest legal professional in the Durham office, Marvin Aceituno, is from Honduras. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the Universidad Pedagógica in Tegucigalpa. Marvin moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2008, and worked for the Honduran consulate. Helping fellow Honduran citizens sparked his interest in working in immigration law, especially a firm that represents and fights for Hispanics. This experience, as well as his own journey to getting U.S. citizenship, gives Marvin a better understand of what challenges and obstacles our clients face each day. When not at work you will find Marvin swimming, running or riding his bike.


Hector R. Cora Jr., Case Manager

Hector began his association with Diener Law as a legal assistant in 2010. Today, Hector is a felony and DMV Fraud case manager and assists with the scheduling of the firm’s numerous criminal cases in the surrounding counties. He always has a smile for clients and co-workers alike. Although born in Brooklyn, NY, Hector lived in Puerto Rico for ten years. He attended Mount Olive College and is a baseball coach for the Wayne County Arsenal travel team on which his sons play. He is a loving husband to his beautiful wife and the proud father of three children, Isaac, Isaiah and Sara Elyse. On the weekend, you may find Hector playing softball, swinging a club on the golf course or fishing nearby.


Raul Fuentes, Case Manager
Raul was born in Mexico but was raised in Seven Springs, NC. He has worked at Diener Law since the spring of 2013, helping clients in worker’s compensation and personal injury. Being fluent in English and Spanish, Raul thrives on working with clients to find the most efficient way to get the help they need. He is a volunteer firefighter and likes attending church, working out and spending time with family. His favorite quote is by Saint Francis of Assisi, “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”


Vicente Marin-Luna, Case Manager
Vicente began working for Diener Law in June of 2011 as a legal assistant. Fluent in Spanish and English, Vicente brings a special mix of compassion and dedication to his work with the firm’s sales/marketing/billing department, and his work ethic is inspiring. Vicente has a gift for identifying with clients and their problems and finding creative ways to help them. He is Mexican-American and comes from a big family with huge values. Vicente has a Business Administration Degree and also a Management Applications & Principles Certificate. Before joining the firm, Vicente was employed by a mentoring company for three years, primarily working with Hispanic youth. Vicente works hard to achieve all his goals at work and in his personal life because he does not like giving up!


Lizzet Montoya, Legal Professional
Lizzet, a legal professional in the Mount Olive office, is eager to help people. She was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, but moved to the U.S. at two years old. She was raised in North Carolina and is now a recipient of DACA. Lizzet understands the struggle to achieve the American Dream as an immigrant. In her free time, Lizzet likes to spend time with family, be outdoors and visiting new places. Her future includes college and becoming a social worker for neglected and abused children.


Mayra Montoya, Case Manager
Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, Mayra was mostly raised in North Carolina and currently lives in the small, rural town of Pikeville. As an immigrant and DACA recipient, she knows the struggle of coming to the U.S. achieving the American dream. Although it can be hard, Mayra encourages everyone to keep trying and never give up. As she says, “There is light at the end of the tunnel!” Mayra is married to a wonderful husband and mother to a daughter, Jennifer, and another daughter, Stephany, who is expected to be here by the end of the summer, 2017.


Stephanie Ortega, Case Manager
Joining the Raleigh office in late winter, 2017, Stephanie started as a legal assistant and has quickly moved into case management. She was born in New York, but moved to Raleigh, NC, at 11 years old. She attended Ferrum College in Virginia in 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Science in criminal justice and minors in Spanish and social work. Stephanie then obtained a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston College. In her free time, she enjoys being with family and visiting friends in Virginia.


Estela Ruiz, Case Manager
Estela started working for Diener Law in October 2011. Fluent in Spanish and English, Estela translates in court and assists with answering telephone calls. Having lived in the United States for 27 years, Estela says she could not ask for a better place to live. She is currently enrolled at Pitt Community College, where she will soon graduate with a degree in Human Services. Estela is the proud mother of two wonderful boys, Carmelo and Emilio. She is also part of a big family consisting of her mother and father, four sisters and two brothers, all of whom she loves very much. Estela and her family like spending time outside, and in the summer, they enjoy visiting beaches and parks, fishing, and cooking out. Estela loves helping people and looks forward to growing with the firm.


Administrative Staff


Stephanie Diener, Accounting Manager
Stephanie, who is Bert Diener’s wife, has been with Diener law since its inception. Presently, she serves as the firm’s accounting manager. In this capacity, she manages the trust account and the firm’s billing. Stephanie received a Bachelors of Science, summa cum laude, in Elementary Education from East Carolina University. She taught second grade for several years before starting to work for the firm. Stephanie and Bert have three beautiful children, Sarah Hope, Grace, and Alex. Stephanie enjoys cooking, playing tennis and exercising.


Michelle Johnson, Marketing Coordinator

Living in North Carolina for more than 14 years doesn’t keep Michelle from forgetting her roots in a small town in West Virginia. Helping people is always a priority whether it’s volunteering at UNC Children’s Hospital, working at church or assisting at her kids’ schools. Michelle graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in Journalism and General Business and helps with human resources needs at Diener Law since joining the firm in the spring of 2015. Michelle also helps with marketing and documenting processes for the firm. She enjoys event planning, shopping and decorating in her spare time.


Rusty Speedy, Systems Lead