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MWL Member Mondays: "Navigating the Caregiver Penalty"
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 Export to Your Calendar 10/19/2020
When: Monday, October 19th, 2020
12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
Where: Remote via Zoom (Details to be forwarded to registrants 2-3 days prior to event date)
United States

Online registration is closed.
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Navigating the Caregiver Penalty

This MWL Member Monday will be held on the THIRD Monday of the month.  


Minnesota Women Lawyers is pleased to announce this gathering in its new "MWL Member Mondays" series.


Over many decades, women have made great strides towards equal pay in the workplace; yet the gender pay gap still exists to a striking degree. Of particular note, recent research addresses the impact that employees experience when taking time off to have and care for children, or to care for sick or elderly relatives.  This is known as the Caregiver Penalty.  Compounding over time, the Caregiver Penalty can add up to a 20% pay gap, with an overwhelming majority of women versus men experiencing this negative result.


Research also indicates that in many cases, attorneys face the Caregiver Penalty more than in other professions, given longstanding expectations regarding working and billable hours, how credit may be allocated, the way cases are assigned, the stigma attached to taking time off or needing a flexible schedule, and other related work culture issues. Moreover, recent studies and articles have indicated that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate gender-based dispartities related to work and caregiving in ways that could impact women's careers for decades to come. In this seminar, panelists will present research, best practices and success stories related to addressing and abating the Caregiver Penalty.  Panelists will include representatives from law firms and corporate legal departments with innovative policies that work to directly mitigate the effect of the Caregiver Penalty.  Attendees will be provided with ideas and tools for consideration at their own firm or legal department. 



MWL is honored to welcome our esteemed panelists:

Sarah Fisher-Otten, Attorney and Owner, Fisher Law Firm PLLC
Deb Fitzpatrick, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota
Jenny Gassman-Pines, Partner, Greene Espel
Autumn Huiras, Senior Counsel, General Mills
Chandra Kilgriff, Chief Talent and Diversity Officer, Robins Kaplan LLP
Sonia Miller-Van Oort, President, Sapientia Law Group


The event is FREE and open to MWL members, MWL Partners, and their guests.  Registration is required via the link above.  (A reminder email along with Zoom log-in details will be forwarded to all registrants 2-3 days prior to the event.)  


1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE credit has been approved for (Event Code: 326897).


We hope you will join us at this MWL Member Monday.  Feel free to extend the invitation to colleagues and friends.  A shareable flier is available here to view and download.


More About Our Speakers:

Sarah Fisher-Otten is the owner of Fisher Law Firm, PLLC in Bloomington, MN, where she practices in the areas of real estate, creditor’s remedies, and mechanic’s liens. Her practice includes counsel and representation of businesses and individuals in residential and commercial purchases, sales, and leasing, title and boundary disputes, debt collection, landlord/tenant matters, and mechanic’s lien foreclosures. She is a nationally-recognized speaker, and a frequent presenter on debt collection and mechanic’s liens. Prior to opening her firm in 2012, Ms. Fisher-Otten practiced in mid-sized firms in St. Cloud and Eden Prairie, and served as claims counsel for a national title insurance company.




Debra Fitzpatrick is the Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota where she specializes in working family policy, including paid family and medical leave and child care assistance.   As the former co-director of the Center on Women, Gender and Public Policy, Debra’s interdisciplinary, intersectional quantitative and qualitative research and engaged policy work focused on the full-range of barriers women face in pursuit of economic parity (paid time off to balance work and care, equal pay for equal or comparable work, stereotyping and segregation in lower paying occupations) and was grounded in the collaborative networks necessary to achieve change.  For example, in collaboration with over 100 cross-sector working group members, she played a significant role in designing and successfully advancing the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), a broad-based nationally recognized legislative package simultaneously addressing the many factors that contribute to the gender pay gap.  Most recently under contract with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Debra served as research lead and author for the most comprehensive policy design and implementation report on state level paid family and medical leave insurance, arguably one of the most complex areas of public policy being considered across the country today.


Jenny Gassman-Pines, Clients look to Greene Espel PLLP partner Jenny Gassman-Pines for courtroom advocacy and guidance to help them resolve their most challenging issues. Many of Jenny’s cases involve the defense employment claims in court and agency settings, and she regularly conducts internal investigations regarding allegations of employee misconduct. As part of Greene Espel’s Diversity & Inclusion practice, Jenny combined her employment law knowledge with her commitment to improving workplaces be developing a popular program aimed at providing workplace feedback that minimizes bias and maximizes results. Grounded in evidence-based research, the program is essential for all workplaces and will help employers foster positive environments in which their employees can advance and thrive.






Autumn Huiras, As Director of Employee Relations and Sr. Counsel for General Mills, Autumn has blended her passion for enabling positive workplace experience with her employment law background.  She leads the Employee Relations team in its work to support General Mills’ workplace culture, foster employee engagement and trust, and mitigate risk.  In her capacity as Sr. Counsel she advises clients globally in areas closely associated with culture, including employment law and privacy.  Before joining General Mills Autumn worked in private practice.  She is an LCLD Fellow, serves as a volunteer attorney through the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, is an advocate for ending homelessness, and serves as a mentor to students in high school and law school.






Chandra Kilgriff, As Chief Talent and Diversity Officer, Chandra serves as a member of the firm’s core leadership team and provides strategic direction for all firm functions impacting talent, including professional development, human resources, and pro bono efforts. A dedicated advocate for inclusion in the legal profession, Chandra promotes diverse perspectives in all aspects of the firm’s talent management practices. Since 2015, she has spearheaded the implementation of Robins Kaplan’s innovative Leaders Engaged in the Advancement of Diversity (LEAD) initiative, empowering the firm’s leaders to take concrete steps to increase diversity and holding them accountable for their results.






Sonia Miller-Van Oort is an experienced litigator and active member of the bar, having served as President of the Hennepin County Bar Association in 2007-2008 and the Minnesota State Bar Association in 2017-18.  She was the MSBA’s fifth female president and first Latina president in the organization’s 100+ year history. Sonia is recognized as an innovator and leader in the legal industry. As President and a Founding Member of Sapientia Law Group, she is committed to demonstrating success of a non-traditional, women and minority-owned law firm, premised on collaboration, diversity, and a results-oriented environment.  Sonia often speaks on topics related to law firm management, workplace culture, innovation in the law, strategic planning, and alternative fee arrangements. 






About MWL Member Mondays

Please join us for this new monthly opportunity to engage with Minnesota Women Lawyers and its members, learn from legal community leaders, and build connections across the profession. To be held on the 2nd Monday of each month (unless noted otherwise) from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m., MWL Member Mondays will provide a consistent opportunity for MWL members and the statewide legal community to connect on topics of common interest, all in support of MWL's mission and values.  Each month's gathering will offer a dynamic and relevant program in a variety of remote formats.  We may hear from community leaders, participate in a workshop-style format, or engage in a group-wide discussion.  Furthermore, MWL Member Mondays will also provide members and non-members alike with the opportunity to learn more about MWL and its benefits, as well as opportunities to volunteer and further engage with the association.  


Even more good news: MWL Member Mondays are FREE and most will offer 1.0 CLE credit.  


For more information about upcoming events throughout FY20-21, including links to each registration web page, click HERE.    


Questions? Contact MWL Program and Projects Coordinator Katie Gunaratne (


Minnesota Women Lawyers
600 Nicollet Mall, Suite 390B
Minneapolis, MN 55402

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