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2018 MWL Conference for Women in the Law: Program Agenda


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Program Agenda


MWL is pleased to announce its 2018 MWL Conference for Women in the Law program agenda.  CLE credit will be applied for each session.  


View the 2018 MWL Conference "Agenda-at-a-Glance." 

Friday, April 27, 2018

7:30 a.m. Registration Opens; Continental Breakfast & Networking / Exhibitor Showcase
8:00 a.m. Remarks and Welcome by 17-18 MWL President Kendra Brodin

  Wearing the White Hat: Women Attorneys in the Public Sector (1.0 Standard CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009)
Women attorneys in the public sector have complex and challenging practice opportunities, as well as the chance to direct the development of law and policy, and to impact the daily lives of citizens.   The door is open to opportunities for women attorneys to find rewarding and powerful positions in government, from entry level to management.  This is particularly true given that current demographic trends indicate 30 to 40% of government employees are or will soon be eligible for retirement and government agencies expect to hire extensively over the next five years.  This presentation will not only focus on how women attorneys can obtain or transition to employment in a public sector legal position, but how they can also gain further leadership advancement within their position.  The discussion will include advice on how to search for public sector jobs, the types of careers available to attorneys in government positions, how to network and position yourself for public sector employment and for continuing advancement, and the overall advantages and challenges of public employment.  The presenters are attorneys from federal, state, and local agencies, who also have experience working in large firm, non-profit, and solo/freelance practices, allowing them to offer candid comparisons of their work in government with other career paths. The presentation will also speak specifically to the experience of women attorneys in the work of government.
        Emerald Gratz, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Supreme Court

      Shannon Harmon, Attorney, IRS Office of the General Counsel
      Kelly Moller, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, Office of the Hennepin County Attorney
      Judge Jessica Palmer-Denig, Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings

  Mentoring in the Workplace: How to Foster the Next Generation of Women Leaders 
(1.0 Standard CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009)

Mentoring women leaders in the legal arena is critical if we are going to see actual improvement in retention, promotion, and advancement. It is no secret that women occupy nearly half of the seats in American law schools, but the wage gap continues to be a problem for women.  Women in private practice continue to leave the profession, and while the number of women in the office of the general counsel continues to rise, it still lags behind our male counterparts.  Furthermore, in today’s world, we need women leaders to help women and men address harassment and other issues which predominantly affect women in the law and in corporations.  In this discussion, we will showcase the talents of our panel of experienced and accomplished women from diverse law practices (private practice, in-house, and government), who will present their perspectives on how they became effective leaders and who mentored them along the way. They will talk about the specific skills that are necessary to be an effective leader and to be an effective mentor for the next generation of women leaders. They will also address case specific circumstances based on their respective positions as in-house counsel, a private practice attorney, and government counsel to help you become an effective leader in your own organization.
        Ramona Advani, General Counsel & Deputy State Auditor, State of Minnesota
      Laura Bednarski, Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, U.S. Bancorp
      Ann M. Bildsten, Deputy Civil Chief, US Attorney's Office

      Christine Lindblad, Partner, Fox Rothschild
      Elizabeth Patton, Associate, Fox Rothschild
      Suzette Schommer, Senior Legal Counsel- Manager, Prime Therapeutics


  Inclusive Intelligence in Practice: Lead Better by Recognizing, Understanding and Interrupting Your Unconscious Biases 
(1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.)

This presentation is a survey of how unconscious and implicit biases impact interactions and decision making in the legal profession and in legal workplaces. We'll cover basic principles of unconscious biases and explore their influence on the ways in which we think, work and lead. The audience will leave with the ability to recognize and understand unconscious and implicit biases, the tools to distinguish between the various biases that could be impacting their work and workplace interactions, and the ability to interrupt their biases to better serve their clients, while creating and contributing to a more inclusive workplace. The presentation will bring together substantive research and findings from many disciplines to focus on the ways this research impacts legal workplaces, and how all professionals can actively identify and address the biases as they relate to their professional conduct and the promotion of an inclusive and diverse workforce.

        Denice Kelley, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Projects, Nextions 
 9:45 a.m. KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Not Suffering, Not Silent but Optimistically Gritty
(1.0 Standard CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.)
by: Michele Coleman Mayes, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, The New York Public Library
Minnesota Women Lawyers is honored to welcome Michele Coleman Mayes as our morning keynote speaker. Michele Coleman Mayes is Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for the New York Public Library (NYPL). Ms. Mayes joined NYPL in August 2012 after serving as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Allstate Insurance Company since 2007. She served as a Senior Vice President and the General Counsel of Pitney Bowes Inc. from 2003 to 2007 and in several legal capacities at Colgate-Palmolive from 1992 to 2003. In 1982, Ms. Mayes entered the corporate sector as managing attorney of Burroughs Corporation. After Burroughs and Sperry Corporation merged, creating Unisys Corporation, she was appointed Staff Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Worldwide Litigation. From 1976 through 1982, she served in the U.S. Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney in Detroit and Brooklyn, eventually assuming the role of Chief of the Civil Division in Detroit. Ms. Mayes received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Ms. Mayes served on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration from 2013-2014. She served as Chair of the Commission on Women in the Profession of the American Bar Association from 2014-2017. Effective in 2015, she was appointed as an Advisor to the ABA Business Law Section, and in that same year, became a Fellow of the American College of Governance Counsel. In August 2016, she was elected to the Board of Directors of Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO).

In-House Legal Departments: Championing Diversity and Inclusion, Both Internally and Externally 
(1.0 Elimination of Bias credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.
As highlighted in a May 2015 Washington Post article, "law is the least diverse profession in the nation." The article also charged lawyers with not "doing enough to change that." This session will explore initiatives, programs and other actions in-house legal departments are taking to champion diversity and inclusion internally, as well as driving diversity and inclusion from the inside out.
       Gulzar Babaeva, Director Counsel, Target Corporation 
     Kate Golden, Vice President and Senior Counsel, M.A. Mortenson Company
     Michele Coleman Mayes, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for the New York Public Library 
     Beverly Luther Quast, Counsel, Ameriprise
Amy Taber, Senior Legal Counsel, Prime Therapeutics (moderator)

LEAD: Leading Through Listening Empowerment Accountability and Delegation 
(1.0 Standard CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.)

Whether you are General Counsel, a new Associate, a judge or even a solo practitioner, all attorneys are called upon to lead teams. Often we are expected to lead without any actual training in how to lead. So how do you develop a leadership style and become a successful leader?

           ·How do you get the best from your team?

           ·How do you motivate your team to perform at their best and to meet deadlines?

           ·How do you elicit action in those situations where you lack leverage (i.e., the authority to hire, fire, discipline)?

           ·How do you "ask nicely" and still make sure it gets done?

           ·Ultimately, how do you earn the respect and dedication of each team member so that you and your team can deliver what is needed, when it is needed, in a way that exceeds expectations?

Join us for this presentation to learn how listening, empowerment, accountability and delegation can make you a better leader.

        Kristin Haugen, Owner, Rock Solid Consultants LLC & KC Haugen Law
      Chief Judge Kathryn Messerich, First Judicial District
      Jenny Robbins, Managing Partner, MADEL PA
      Molly Thornton, Senior Lawyer, Cargill Incorporated 
  Competence and Well-Being: Can We Have It All? (1.0 Ethics CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.)

This seminar will focus on "The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change" a groundbreaking report released in August 2017 by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, a coalition of entities from the American Bar Association and throughout the profession. The coalition found that “We are at a crossroads. To maintain public confidence in the profession, to meet the need for innovation in how we deliver legal services, to increase access to justice, and to reduce the level of toxicity that has allowed mental health and substance use disorders to fester among our colleagues, we have to act now.” Although several major themes are discussed in the report, seminar speakers will focus on "well-being as an indispensable part of a lawyer’s duty of competence." Research shows that lawyers who are dealing with significant stress or mental health (including substance use) issues are more likely to experience ethics problems.  By reducing the stigma about well-being and getting help when needed, the incidence of ethical complaints may be reduced. Furthermore, while a culture of well-being benefits all lawyers, women have often made greater sacrifices to advance their careers and may benefit more from a culture of enhanced well-being. Ultimately, improving attorney well-being is a good business decision, it enhances ethics and professionalism and it enhances lawyer satisfaction and retention.

         Joan Bibelhausen, Executive Director, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers
       Cassie Hanson, Senior Assistant Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility 
       Robin Wolpert, Attorney, Sapientia Law Group; Chair, Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board
12:00 p.m. MWL's 46th Annual Meeting and 2018 Annual Awards Presentation

1:15 p.m. Networking & Dessert Reception


Getting to the Top of the Big Top: Strategies for Increasing Women's Leadership in Mid-Sized and Large Law Firms  
(1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.)

So many training and discussions of gender equity in law firms focus on recruiting, retaining, and promoting to partnership. But that's just the beginning. It's critical that we focus on breaking the glass ceilings within law firms by providing senior associates and junior and senior shareholders with the knowledge and tools they need to reach the upper echelons of firm managements—from committee chairs to practice group leader to compensation committee and managing partner. This panel will bring together a distinguished group of Twin Cities female attorneys from a wide range of mid-sized and large law firms and various practices to talk about tips for individual attorneys to reach these levels of leadership and for firms to create a culture in which women are recruited, considered, and selected for these positions.

        Marla Butler, Partner, Robins Kaplan LLP
      Sarah Duniway, Managing Partner, Gray Plant Mooty
      June Hoidal, Partner, Zimmerman Reed
      Lori Johnson, Special Counsel, Nilan Johnson Lewis
      Ann Rainhart, Chief Operating Officer, Briggs and Morgan

Importance of Story to Build Trust and Inclusion (1.0 Standard CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.)
Storytelling is a powerful tool that leaders - and particularly female leaders - can use to build trust and understanding: critical ingredients for building and sustaining connected and diverse teams. Attorneys are taught to tell stories in the courtroom or with their cases, but rarely about themselves, their teams and those around them. This interactive workshop marries the two, and teaches the impact story can have to widen our circle of understanding and influence. Participants learn how to refine and articulate the story of their leadership values in an authentic way. We’ll workshop the best structure, language, and tone to have more values-driven conversations with your colleagues. We'll focus on stories that drive an individual's leadership brand, and advance women in the workplace as a whole. Participants will also learn to better listen to stories without assumptions and biases. They will leave equipped not only to tell their own stories, but to amplify the stories around them that need a voice.
        Sarah Jaycox Hartong, CEO, Leveled 
  The Impostor Syndrome- I'm Not Who You Think I Am  (1.0 Standard CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.)
  “Oh, I was just lucky.”,  “Someone must have made a mistake.”, “It’s only a matter of time before I’m found out.”  These and other similar phrases are familiar to the estimated 70% of the population who have experienced the "imposter syndrome" at some point in their lives. This phenomenon  manifests as people are unable to internalize their accomplishments despite external evidence of their competence. During this seminar, we will discuss experiences with the imposter syndrome, techniques for keeping it in check, and share tips to find our own successes and better enjoy life for what it is - a series of opportunities to get over ourselves.
        Claudia Revermann, Owner, Revermann Law, P.A.
3:15 p.m. KEYNOTE WORKSHOP (1.0 Standard CLE credit has been approved. Event Code: 256009.)
Say Yes to Diversity: What Improv Comedy Can Teach Us About Embracing the "Big Tent". 
  by: Toni Halleen, Co-Owner and COO of Schaefer Halleen, LLC

In this energinzing and inspiring closing session, Toni Halleen will present tips and strategies for women lawyers in all of our various practice areas, career stages, office sizes and locations. Building on the “Rules of Improv” and Toni’s popular “Think on the Spot” workshop, this interactive session will focus on skills women need to succeed in today’s legal and business environment, including working with diverse styles, collaboration, confidence and trust, adaptability for change, and building one another up for strength, success, and leadership. We’ll try out techniques to discover good habits in important areas, such as:


  • The power of trust and trustworthiness
  • Saying yes and meaning it
  • Making others look good makes us all succeed
  • Taking action to avoid being stuck
  • The balance of giving and receiving
  • What’s hard about listening
  • Change, change, change

Over thirty years, Toni has practiced in a number of settings including a large law firm, various corporate law departments, small law firms, and as a self-employed contractor. She is currently the co-owner and COO of Schaefer Halleen, a plaintiff-side, employment litigation firm in Minneapolis, with seven attorneys and four staff. Toni volunteers with the World Press Institute, Theatre Unbound, and the Hennepin County Minority Clerkship Program. She is a frequent CLE speaker and was on the adjunct faculty at Hamline William Mitchell College of Law for many years. Toni received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.


4:15 p.m. Closing Remarks by MWL President Kendra Brodin
4:30 p.m. Closing Reception


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

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