Emma Rodriguez-Ayala is an investment management attorney, with a business-minded and solutions-oriented approach to counseling clients. Emma leverages both in-house and private practice perspectives to advise investment advisers and investors throughout the U.S. on legal, regulatory, compliance and corporate matters. She has experience working on sophisticated international investment management matters.

Investment Advisor and Fund Structuring, Transactions & Review

Emma is skilled in complex alternative investment structuring, including structuring direct-trading funds, funds-of-funds, customized/single-investor funds and managed accounts. She coordinates investments and sale offerings for private funds, developing offering terms that are market appropriate and achieve desired investment results.

Emma drafts and negotiates customized terms for institutional investors’ investments in private funds and assists with legal and compliance due diligence on private funds and investment advisors, including reviews of all legal and compliance documents, policies and procedures.

Impact Investing

The combination of Emma’s investment management expertise with her community-driven work has positioned her as an impact investing leader, assisting investment managers, nonprofits and other entities with structuring and offering investment funds that aim to deliver both economic and social impact returns. She advises social impact clients with the launch and capital raising for both their management companies and their investment funds. Most recently, she has been at the forefront of advising on Qualified Opportunity Funds and their investments in Opportunity Zones, as provided by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 

Compliance and Regulatory Services

Emma helps investment advisors develop, implement and test compliance programs that are business-focused, including: conducting compliance and operational risk assessments, advising on marketing practices (including reviews of marketing materials, requests for proposal and investor communications), and training personnel.

Emma assists clients with investment advisor and investment fund regulatory reporting requirements in the U.S. and internationally, including those reportable to the SEC, CFTC, Treasury Department, Department of Labor, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Cayman Islands regulatory authorities and the European Securities Market Authority.

Emma engages in regulatory advocacy for the private funds industry, including presenting to the CFTC staff on risk management practices by commodity pool operators and working with other market participants to successfully advocate before the SEC, the CFTC, FINRA, NFA and ESMA.

In-House Background

Emma spent over seven years in-house at Mesirow Advanced Strategies, Inc. (MAS), a U.S. registered investment advisor, commodity pool operator and commodity trading advisor offering funds of hedge funds worldwide. As the General Counsel, she was responsible for all legal, regulatory and compliance affairs of MAS. Emma was a Senior Managing Director, member of MAS’ Executive and Operating Committees, and served as an interested director on the boards of directors of over a dozen of MAS’ investment funds for U.S. and non-U.S. institutional investors.

Personal Interests

Emma’s ambitious bucket list includes competing in a professionally timed race in every U.S. state (with the motto of “just finish alive”) and hiking all U.S. national parks. She is making solid progress – she has already competed in the Chicago Marathon and over 10 half-marathons and has hiked in one-third of the national parks (and has the spider bites to prove it).


Bar Admissions





University of Chicago Law School
J.D. (2006)

Saint Louis University
B.S. in International Business, summa cum laude, Alpha Sigma Nu, Beta Gamma Sigma (2003)

The Opportunity Zones Program
The Opportunity Zones Program
Is Your Investment Eligible for Opportunity Zone Funding?

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives
  • Private Fund Regulatory Developments and Compliance Challenges
    Faculty, Practising Law Institute, 2015-present
  • How to Build a Winner: Establishing Team Leadership and Beneficial Strategic Pricing Arrangements for Legal Matters
    Association of Corporate Counsel Chicago Chapter Seminar, 2018
  • Ethical Issues at the Intersection of Investment Management and Philanthropy: Donor-Advised Funds, Family Foundations and Impact Investing
    An Interactive Ethics Symposium by Entertain-2-Educate, 2018
  • Disruption, Adaptation and Legacy Building – Career Paths in Flux
    Association of Latino Professionals for America Annual Convention, 2018
  • Building Your House on the Rock: Client Relationships and Networking
    PracticePro Career Conference, 2018 
  • Engaging the Next Generation of Board Leadership
    Grant Thornton Not-for-Profit Board Governance Seminar, 2018
  • Elevating Your Career: Becoming the Obvious Next Choice
    Association of Latino Professionals Midwest Executive Summit, 2017
  • Managing Investor Expectations and Pursuing Capital Raising Opportunities
    HFM Operational Leaders Summit, 2016
  • Women as Leaders
    University of Chicago Law Women’s Leadership Summit, 2016
  • Navigating Regulatory Complexity
    AIMA Global Policy and Regulatory Forum, 2015
  • Becoming a Better Student and Lawyer: Moving Beyond Technical Skills
    University of Chicago Law School Student Orientation, 2015
  • Trends in Fund Governance and Investor Scrutiny
    UBS COO/CFO Conference, 2013
  • Information Overload: How to Cope with an Increased Reporting Burden
    HFM Fund of Hedge Funds Leaders Summit, 2013
  • Rising to the Challenges of Transatlantic Oversight
    Absolute Return Spring Symposium, 2013
  • Hedge Funds: The Impact of a Changing Regulatory Landscape
    University of Chicago Booth School of Business Forum, 2013
  • Reforming Alternative Fund Governance to Benefit Investors
    IFI Global’s Fourth Global Fund Domiciles Seminar, 2013

Leadership & Community

Civic Activities

  • Association of Latino Professionals for America, Inc. – President, Chicago Chapter
  • iMentor – Chicago Advisory Board
  • University of Chicago Law School Doctoroff Business Leadership Program – Mentor


  • National Diversity Council — Top Latino Leaders, 2018
  • Chicago Negocios Now — Who’s Who in Chicago Hispanic Power, 2018
  • Chicago United — Business Leaders of Color, 2017 (Business Leaders of Color are individuals who have combined vision with the ability to execute on strategies. They have led large-scale operations domestically and internationally with a focus on innovation and a keen ability to drive transformational change in their organizations.)
  • Mesirow Financial – Norman Award for Superior Support Service, 2015
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