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2018 MWL Conference for Women in the Law: Highlights



REGISTER NOW Registration & Rates 46th Annual Meeting
Conference Highlights Speaker Biographies Download Center
Program Agenda
Scholarships Exhibitors & Sponsors

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MORNING Keynote Presentation:
Not Suffering, Not Silent but Optimistically Gritty
Michele Coleman Mayes

Minnesota Women Lawyers is pleased to welcome Michele Coleman Mayes as our 2018 MWL Conference 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).

hover textAFTERNOON Keynote Workshop:

Say Yes to Diversity! What Improv Comedy can Teach Us About Embracing the “Big Tent.”
Toni Halleen

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


About Toni: 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.


Breakout Sessions

Minnesota Women Lawyers is pleased to offer a wide range of Conference programming geared towards the diverse practice areas and experience levels represented by MWL's membership. View the program agenda for a complete listing of plenary and break-out sessions.



CLE Credit
Up to five CLE credits will be available to each attendee. (Including both ethics and elimination of bias credit). Final credits received will be based on actual sessions attended.



Through all of its events and initiatives, Minnesota Women Lawyers fosters a strong sense of community among its members and leverages its collective voice to advance its mission. Furthermore, MWL is a powerful source of business growth and client development, and Conference attendees will have a particular opportunity to connect with trailblazers and trendsetters from across the Minnesota legal community. With its statewide membership of attorneys, judges, law students & legal employers, the MWL Conference will be a perfect setting to network, learn and practice skills in a collegial and supportive environment, and foster greater satisfaction within the practice of law.



MWL Conference Benefactor

MWL is pleased to offer its members the opportunity to register as an MWL Conference Benefactor. By paying a slightly higher registration fee, an MWL Conference Benefactor helps fund conference scholarships, and receives recognition on the MWL website, in the Conference program and on an individual's conference nametag.  


If you are interested in helping to fund conference scholarships, simply register as a Conference Benefactor on the registration form. For more information, contact MWL Executive Director Debra Pexa (

2018 Conference Benefactors (To Date):
Judge Bridgid Dowdal
Carrie Hefte
Athena Hollins
Calandra Revering
Amy Taber


Sponsorships and Exhibitor Opportunities

Minnesota Women Lawyers is pleased to offer a select number of sponsor and exhibitor opportunities at its upcoming 2018 MWL Conference for Women in the Law. Being one of a limited number of MWL Conference sponsors  or exhibitors offers a unique opportunity to share your organization or business services and products with women attorney and legal employer decision makers. Opportunities are available on a first-come basis. Complete benefit packages at Exhibitors & Sponsors.



Annual Meeting
NOTE: Registration for the MWL Conference automatically includes registration to the MWL Annual Meeting luncheon. MWL Annual Meeting tickets may also be purchased separately HERE.

MWL is pleased to announce its 46th Annual Meeting, to be held on Friday, April 27th, 2018 from 12:00 noon to 1:15 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.  


This luncheon event will offer an opportunity to review the past year and look forward to the year ahead. We’ll elect our 2018-2019 Board of Directors, and we’ll honor our 2018 Annual Award recipients. Plus, this event is always a fabulous opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends! We hope you’ll join us to celebrate our past accomplishments and plan our future successes.


All MWL Conference and Annual Meeting attendees are invited to socialize and network over dessert, immediately following the Annual Meeting program.


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

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