Cynthia R. Estrella

Cynthia R. Estrella

Biography: Cynthia's practice focuses on all aspects of commercial and business litigation with significant experience in real estate and construction industry disputes. Cynthia began her legal career focusing on surety law, an experience that has proved to be invaluable to her subcontractor and contractor clients. Her experience as a litigator has lent itself to advising clients in the areas risk avoidance and management. Cynthia advises clients in contract preparation and negotiation, dispute resolution and litigation.
Cynthia has advised both small technology start-ups and international corporations preparing their employment contracts, lease agreements, licensing and use agreements, vendor and supplier agreements, and subcontractor agreements. Cynthia collaborates with clients to balance risk avoidance and management against potential gains for effective contract negotiations. When disputes arise, she works to achieve the best possible outcome for clients, balancing the costs against potential results. When necessary, she works with clients and firm resources to pursue aggressively our clients' interests through mediation, arbitration or trial.

Cynthia's approach to the practice of law draws on her experience as an engineer. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cynthia began her professional career in the aerospace industry. After working as a structural test engineer where her job was to break things (or make sure they were built sufficiently strong to survive a hostile launch environment), Cynthia decided to pack her bags and head from sunny Southern California to the Midwest for law school at the University of Iowa, then a top-20 ranked law school. While in law school, Cynthia served first as a member and later as the Senior Managing Editor of the Iowa Law Review, and also clerked in Community Legal Services in the Quad Cities.
In engineering, collaboration and teamwork are of paramount importance for a successful project. Creative, out of the box thinking and a strong work ethic are rewarded. Cynthia continues this philosophy in her legal practice. Cynthia is dedicated to partnering with her clients to achieve the best possible and practicable solution. Licensed in both Arizona and Nevada, Cynthia is able to assist clients protect their interests in both states.
Practice Highlights:
  • Successfully challenged denial of health care insurance claim under ERISA and termination of life insurance policy for highly-compensated executive. Resulted in 100% reversal of insurance company denial and reinstatement of coverage.
  • Breach of employment contract. High-level executive appropriated company-private information for personal benefit. Following several months of protracted litigation, which included aggressive tactics to limit former employee's ability to capitalize on company-private information, successfully mediated case to resolution. Settlement included return of all company property and assurances of non-disclosure of company-private information secured by substantial financial penalties in the event of disclosure.
  • Prepared coverage opinions for workman's compensation claims for national transportation company.
  • Represented Arizona developer in breach of contract action for international resort development project.
  • Represented judge constituents in the development and construction of a new court building.
  • Represented national general contractor in breach of contract disputes for nonpayment and defended ensuing subcontractor and supplier suits in Nevada and Arizona. In light of lender default and absence of alternative owner funding, successfully defended numerous subcontractor suits or negotiated favorable settlement agreements resulting in substantial savings to contractor.
  • Negotiated buy-sell agreement of a large recycling facility.
  • Represented surety in one of Arizona's largest bond losses involving 28 bonded projects in various stages of completion for public and private projects. Responsible for retaining replacement and completion contractors, drafting and negotiating subcontractor take-over agreements, resolving payment claims and defending claims for defective construction and/or untimely performance.
  • Denied demand by public owner for surety's performance after owner's declaration of contractor's default during construction of wastewater treatment facility. $120 million bond exposure.
  • Represented performance surety in claim by public owner regarding Nevada regional justice center and court house.
  • Defended licensed engineers and architects in administrative actions seeking to revoke their professional licenses.
Practice Areas:
Construction Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Suretyship
Bars: Arizona (1996); Nevada (2003)
Courts: U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona; All state courts in Arizona.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (B.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1990)
University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, IA (J.D., 1996)
"Requirements for Contracting with Disadvantaged, Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises" Arizona Construction Law Practice Manual (Tierney et al., eds., State Bar of Arizona 2006)
Arizona, Nebraska, Nevada and South Dakota chapters in Performance Bond Manual (3rd Ed.) (American Bar Association 2006)
Arizona and Nevada Chapters in Payment Bond Manual (3rd Ed.)(American Bar Association 2006)
Born in San Diego, raised in San Juan Capistrano, CA, Cynthia has called Phoenix her home since 1996. To learn Spanish, Cynthia travelled to Spain where a four-month immersion program turned into three years of travel and adventure. In her free time she enjoys hiking, live theater and locally-owned restaurants.
Birth Place: San Diego, CA

e-mail address:

with focus on:
  1. Construction Litigation
  2. Commercial Litigation

Phoenix (Main Office):
5353 North 16th Street, Suite 315
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Phone: (602) 952-6000
Fax: (602) 952-7020

New York Office:
275 Madison Avenue, 14th Floor
New York, New York 10016
Phone: (212) 697-9400
Fax: (212) 697-9401