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2019 MWL Conference for Women in the Law: Program Agenda


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2019 MWL Conference Program Agenda


MWL is pleased to announce its 2019 MWL Conference for Women in the Law program agenda.  CLE credit has been approved for each session, as designated below.  


View the 2019 MWL Conference "Agenda-at-a-Glance." 

Friday, April 26, 2019

7:30 a.m. Registration Opens; Continental Breakfast & Networking / Exhibitor Showcase
8:15 a.m. Remarks and Welcome by 18-19 MWL President Shannon Harmon

  Legal Lessons: Advice to My Younger Self 
(1.0 Standard CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)
Whether they practice in-house, in the public sector, at a non-profit or in private practice, attorneys must navigate many business and legal challenges every day, as they craft solutions to meet the needs of their clients, stakeholders and organizations. Our panelists are accomplished women in their mid-careers, representing perspective and viewpoints in all these areas.  Join us for this engaging discussion where we will discuss what these experienced women attorneys have learned along the way, and what advice they would give to themselves if they could go back in time. 

     Luz Maria Frias, Executive Coach & Race Equity Strategist
     Nicole James Gilchrist, Senior Counsel, Products and Distribution Law & Compliance, Thrivent

     Maria Mitchell, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney- Child Protection Division, Ramsey County Attorney's Office
     Abigail Nesbitt, Senior Vice President, Litigation Manager, TCF Bank
     Stacey Slaughter, Partner, Robins Kaplan LLP

  Leadership Presence: Empowering Women to Command the Room and Own It
(1.0 Standard CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)
Do you aspire to influence others with power and authenticity? Do you want to assume a leadership role among colleagues, clients or key decision-makers, in order to stand-out rather than blend in? If so, this seminar is for you! At times, women undermine their ability to influence those around them, thus causing them to jeopardize their credibility and reputation. Michelle Perdue will discuss key principals to developing a leadership presence to instill confidence, enhance relationships and present with impact. Go beyond working the room when you can own it!
        Michelle Perdue, Founder & President, Speak To Advance Communications, LLC

  Women Attorneys PLUS: Maneuvering Barriers to Successful Practice of Law
(1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)

As research and experience tells us, opportunities to advance in the legal field are not always handed out equally. Over the years, legal employers have focused on diversity and inclusion issues among their workforce with increasing frequency. However, when women attorneys have intersecting identities, their challenges are compounded further in the effort to secure equal opportunities for advancement. This seminar will focus on some of the additional barriers that women attorneys may face as women of color, immigrants, mothers, members of the LGBTQ community, persons with a disability or health challenges, or those working as part-time attorneys. A diversity and inclusion expert will offer effective inclusion strategies for various workplace environments and provide talent and leadership development tips that will help women attorneys address the barriers they face. A panel of diverse female attorneys will also share their experiences and offer examples of proactive steps they have found to be effective.

        Alia Abdi, Associate, Zimmerman Reed LLP
      Erin Bryan, Associate, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

      Valerie Jensen, Owner, Azon Consulting
      Lisa Lodin Peralta, Owner, Peralta Appellate Law PLLC
      Libby Stennes, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
      Judge Sophia Y. Vuelo, District Court Judge, Second Judicial District
(1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #271462.)
Remarks by Hilarie Bass, President and Founder, Bass Institute for Diversity and Inclusion
  MWL is pleased to welcome morning keynote speaker Hilarie Bass, President and Founder of Bass Institute for Diversity & Inclusion. 
Hilarie is a global evangelist for gender parity and an outspoken advocate for expanding the ranks of women leaders at corporations, nonprofits and other institutions. She is also one of the most recognized attorneys in the United States, having served as co-president of the international law firm Greenberg Traurig from 2013 to 2018 and as president of the American Bar Association (ABA) from September 2017 to August 2018.  Hilarie traveled the world speaking on behalf of the ABA about the insidious damage of implicit bias in the legal profession and the importance of retaining and promoting female leaders. 

How to Successfully Transition Into In-House Practice and Continue to Promote Other Women 
(1.0 Standard CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)
  In this presentation, we will hear from a distinguished panel of women who’ve left private or government practice at various stages in their careers to take a diverse set of in-house roles. We will explore their perspectives and advice on the following topics and more: whether the bias women face (and how to overcome it) in private and government practice changes when in-house; how to be an effective leader and promote equality in a differing business environment; how to successfully transition from relationships with male partners/clients to those with male business colleagues and executives; how best to continue to mentor women who remain in private or government practice (individually or through groups/organizations); and what in-house woman can do to help promote women who are in private practice (e.g. asking that women be placed on their matters or helping advocate for billing credit).
       Lola Velazquez-Aguilu, Litigation & Investigations Counsel, Medtronic
     Sarah Stroebel, Deputy General Counsel, US Bank
     Amy Dahl, Vice President of Human Resources & Distributor Development, Toro Company
     Cynthia Topel, Director, Corporate Counsel, Sleep Number Corporation
     Elizabeth Patton, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP

Negotiation Skills for Women Attorneys 
(1.0 Standard CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)

In this interactive workshop, we will work through real life examples of how to negotiate. We'll talk about how our brains trick us and ways to use that knowledge to get better outcomes. We'll practice specific skills critical for women attorneys, to help them "own their space" and negotiate like a pro. Whether it is a salary increase, buying a car, or engaging in a complex commercial transaction, attendees will leave with actionable steps to help them succeed in their next negotiation. 

        Debra Frimerman, General Counsel, Calyxt, Inc.
  Putting Change Into Action: Alternative Firm Structures That Drive Inclusion 
(1.0 Elimination of Bias CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)

For many, the traditional law firm model has failed lawyers and their families.  And often, women and people of color have taken the brunt of it.  However, women have the ability to effect change and many attorneys are doing just that. Our panelists will share their experiences and firm models that have taken on this challenge.  They will discuss the different governance structures, compensation structures, client pricing, and strategic use of technology that have enabled them to create legal workplaces which allow attorneys in general, and women and people of color in particular, to thrive.  The panelists will also share their perspectives on whether or not these models hold up in real practice, and thereby allow attorneys to make a living and find true work-life satisfaction.

         Sommer Spector Angstman, Partner, Lucēre Legal, LLC
       Sonia Miller-Van Oort, President and Founder, Sapientia Law Group
12:00 p.m. MWL's 47th Annual Meeting and 2019 Annual Awards Presentation

1:15 p.m. Networking & Dessert Reception


The Why, What, and How of Building a Practice

(1.0 Standard CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)
There are many good reasons why women lawyers should consider building their own practice, whether it be within a large firm, a medium-sized firm, or as a solo/small practitioner. After briefly addressing the rationale for doing so, the presenters will discuss, from three different perspectives, how to approach identifying a practice area to build; the range of considerations that should be accounted for; and the cycle of building, maintaining and – hopefully – leaving a legacy. The presentation will include individual work and reflection, as well as audience participation.
        Beth Forsythe, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
      Denise Rahne, Partner, Robins Kaplan LLP
      Jayne Sykora, Co-Founder, Sykora & Santini PLLC
Two Critical Skills to Move from Lawyer to Leader: Coaching and Feedback 
(1.0 Standard CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)
Are you a lawyer who wants to grow and develop their career or leadership skills? Come to join this interactive session on how coaching and feedback skills can help you grow and develop your leadership, regardless of level or title.  Professionals who are good at these two skills tend to be strong performers who realize their potential.  Leaders who are good at these skills activate people’s passion and discretionary effort to achieve more than they thought was possible.  You will experience the power of listening carefully, being open and curious, and seeking to look at things through multiple lenses to choose the perspective that drives the most personal growth, accountability and performance. 
        Sybil Dunlop, Partner, Greene Espel PLLP
      Jenny Gassman-Pines, Partner, Greene Espel PLLP
      Karen Mathre, Senior Program Manager, Coaching Center of Expertise, Medtronic
      Betsy Van Hecke, Vice President, Legal, Cardiac and Vascular Group, Medtronic
  Being Your Most Persuasive Self  
(1.0 Standard CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)
  The art of persuasion is vital to the practice of law whether or not you are litigating cases. In this exciting, hands on presentation, we will engage in a discussion about becoming your most persuasive self.  As a result, when you rely on these tools in practice, you will put your best foot forward. Not only will we engage in a large group discussion, this presentation will require active participation from the members to demonstrate the tools of persuasion.
        Kelly Rodgers, Mock Trial Director, Hamline University
(1.0 Standard CLE credit was approved. CLE event code #270997.)
  Workship Facilitator: Dawn Rosemond, Barnes & Thornburg LLP
MWL is pleased to welcome afternoon keynote workshop facilitator Dawn Rosemond of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. Based out of their Fort Wayne, Indiana office, she is a partner and serves as the firm’s director of diversity, professional development and inclusion. Dawn is the first African-American female to make equity partner at Barnes & Thornburg and reportedly in the state of Indiana. Author of the book “Boss Presence,” she is also a national speaker on leadership and personal development. Dawn spearheads diversity and inclusion initiatives through deliberate programming and strategic priorities, as well as leads the charge for cultivating and maintaining an environment that boldly promotes the training, sponsorship, empowerment and promotion of all legal talent.

4:15 p.m. Closing Remarks by MWL President Shannon Harmon
4:30 p.m. Closing Reception


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

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