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MWL Announces its 2017 Annual Awards Recipients

Tuesday, April 4, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Hannah Zuercher




Minnesota Women Lawyers Announces its 2017 Annual Awards Recipients


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  
April 4, 2017
Contact: Debra Pexa (612/338-3205; dpexa@mwlawyers.org)


Minnesota Women Lawyers is pleased to announce its 2017 Annual Award recipients.  The Awards will be presented at MWL's 45th Annual Meeting on April 21st, 2017.

 

The MWL Equal Justice Award will be presented to Jon Hoffman and Kathleen Sprague in recognition of their article entitled “Contemporary Notions of Human Rights in South Korea.”  An Honorable Mention Award will be presented to Emily Flesch for her paper entitled " Elder Law & Feminism:  Moving Toward Equity in Aging." All Minnesota law students are invited to submit papers or articles they have written on a topic involving law and social justice.

The MWL Leadership Award will be presented to Bowman and Brooke LLP.  This award recognizes legal employers throughout the state that strive to enhance the status, influence and effectiveness of women lawyers in their employ.

The Myra Bradwell Award will be presented to Kathleen Flynn Peterson, Partner at Robins Kaplan LLP.  This award is presented to an MWL member who expresses the highest ideals of the legal profession and who possesses the qualities exemplified by Myra Bradwell such as courage, perseverance and leadership on issues of concern to women. 

The Service to MWL Award will be presented to Shannon Harmon, MWL Foundation President.  This award is designed to recognize the MWL member, group of members or 100% club member whose efforts during the past program year have contributed substantially to advance MWL’s mission.

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Equal Justice Award
MWL is honored to present the 2017 Equal Justice Award to University of Minnesota Law Students Jon Hoffman and Kathleen Sprague in recognition of their article entitled “Contemporary Notions of Human Rights in South Korea.”  All Minnesota law school students are invited to submit papers or articles they have written on a topic involving law and social justice.

 

Additionally this year, MWL will present an Honorable Mention award to Mitchell Hamline Law Student Emily Flesch for her article entitled: "Elder Law & Feminism:  Moving Toward Equity in Aging."

Jon Hoffman grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and majored in English at Appalachian State University, with a minor in Asian Studies. After graduating, he spent several years teaching in South Korea before moving back to the States to work at the United Way in South Carolina. At the University of Minnesota Law School, he has been very involved in the Ronald M. Mankoff Tax Clinic as both a student attorney and current director. Jon loves Minnesota and is looking forward to staying in Minneapolis after graduation, and pursuing a career in public interest litigation.

Originally from the Twin Cities, Kathleen Sprague graduated summa cum laude from Wellesley College where she majored in Anthropology and wrote her honors thesis on notions of justice in the former Yugoslavia after conducting fieldwork in northwestern Bosnia. She is finishing her last semester at the University of Minnesota Law School with a concentration in Labor and Employment Law. Next year she is excited to be clerking for the Honorable Tracy Smith at the Minnesota Court of Appeals.



Leadership Award

Minnesota Women Lawyers is honored to present the 2017 Leadership Award to the law firm of Bowman and Brooke LLP  for its efforts to enhance the status, influence and effectiveness of women lawyers in their employ.

From the Award Nomination: “Diversity and inclusion have been core values of Bowman and Brooke since the firm's inception more than 30 years ago. Of the seven founding partners, one was a woman, a groundbreaking step in the right direction in 1985. This was just the beginning of Bowman and Brooke's mission to foster an environment of inclusiveness and advancement of women in the legal profession.

 

As a national product liability trial firm, Bowman and Brooke has made diversity and inclusion not only a top priority, but the foundation of the firm's culture. Bowman and Brooke's diversity plan begins immediately after an attorney joins the firm. New attorneys are assigned a partner whose responsibility is to oversee and assist with their professional development as a practicing lawyer and employee of the firm. Women and minority attorneys are encouraged to be involved in an affinity group and/or to work closely with a mentor to foster their acclimation. The mentor takes an active role in the development of the new attorney and meets with them regularly to discuss their work, client feedback and growth opportunities within the firm, within the community, and within legal organizations, including diversity and inclusion organizations, affinity groups and bar associations.

 

Bowman and Brooke has long been a leader, committed to supporting the advancement and success of women lawyers and the numbers prove: Executive Committee: 33% women; Management Committee: 27% women; Partners 34% women; Attorneys: 42% women.  Bowman and Brooke actively engages in recruiting and retaining women attorneys by being a fierce advocate for their career goals and professional development. For example, 100% of those in the most recent class of partner promotions were women. Additionally, in February 2017, the firm elected its first female Vice Chair and five new managing partners, three of whom are women. There are an additional 30 women in leadership roles throughout the firm's 12 offices. Specifically, in Minneapolis, women attorneys serve in the roles of Vice Chair, Managing Partner, Hiring Partner and Policy Committee Member.

 

The core values of diversity and inclusion, particularly the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in the legal profession, will continue to remain fundamental objectives of Bowman and Brooke's strategic plan. The firm will always embrace and recognize diversity as a core value, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because diversity is seen in the cities and venues in which cases are tried, in the judges and juries the firm tries cases before and in the clients who rely on the firm's legal services."

 

Myra Bradwell Award

MWL is honored to present the 2017 Myra Bradwell Award to Kathleen Flynn Peterson, Partner at Robins Kaplan LLP., for expressing the highest ideals of the legal profession and possessing qualities exemplified by Myra Bradwell such as courage, perseverance, and leadership on issues of concern to women.

From the Award Nomination by Jennifer Robbins, MADEL PA: Kathleen epitomizes an attorney who is not only a leader in her field in terms of legal acumen but also in terms of professionalism, ethics, and dedication to mentoring other women inside and outside the courtroom. Kathleen is admired by many women (and men, alike) for her courage, perseverance, and leadership on issues of importance to women. 

Kathleen’s professional history and successes in the course of her 30-year practice is impressive alone, but is even more extraordinary when understood in context. Kathleen decided to become an attorney when, after college, she was working as a registered nurse. She saw an opportunity to provide a different and meaningful type of care for patients as an advocate for them in the legal system....

It is not an overstatement to describe Kathleen Flynn Peterson as one of the nation’s preeminent trial lawyers and her numerous achievements bear that out. What makes Kathleen even more worthy of this award, however, is the fact that her work and success is intertwined with her commitment to advocating for victims of injustice—often women and children—in the health care system. Indeed, in deciding to concentrate on medical malpractice cases, Kathleen has chosen an area of law in which women attorneys are typically underrepresented. To the extent women do practice in the area, they frequently represent defendants. Doing so, she has achieved extraordinary results....

Kathleen has a long record of assisting other women in their careers, and has been particularly effective as a mentor. At Robins Kaplan, she has served on the firm’s Diversity and Mentoring Committees, and received her most prized award—the Distinguished Mentor Award— at the recommendation of an associate. At the Mitchell Hamline School of Law (formerly William Mitchell College of Law)—where she attended law school, served on its board of directors, and chaired the board for two years—she has mentored numerous law students over the years. She has also established the Kathleen Flynn Peterson scholarship for women law students interested in becoming trial lawyers.... I, too, am a beneficiary of Kathleen’s sponsorship; I’m certain her vocal support for my candidacy for partner weighed heavily in my favor, and since then I have witnessed her exceptional advocacy in partner meetings on behalf of other women, arguing (successfully) that they should be given a seat at the decision-makers’ table."


Service to MWL Award

The Service to MWL Award was created to recognize the MWL member, group of members, legal employer Partner or 100% Club member whose efforts have contributed substantially to advance MWL's mission.  Minnesota Women Lawyers is pleased to present the 2017 Service to MWL Award to Shannon Harmon, MWL Foundation President. 

Shannon Harmon began her involvement with the MWL Foundation in 2012 when she was first appointed by then-MWL President Dana Bartocci to co-lead a taskforce, along with then-MWL President-Elect Teresa Fariss McClain, exploring the development a charitable arm of MWL. During FY13-14, Shannon then continued her leadership role by co-chairing the subsequent taskforce that was founded to create The MWL Foundation.  Upon the MWL Foundation's IRS approval in the summer of 2014, Shannon became the first MWL Foundation President and has held the position ever since.  Although Shannon will step down as MWL Foundation President this summer, she will continue on the MWL Foundation Board as a Director through 2018.  Shannon's leadership role with MWL will also likely continue, as she is the 2017-2018 Board of Directors candidate for President-Elect. 

In addition to her leadership roles with the MWL Foundation, Shannon serves as Co-Chair of the MWL Development Committee, MWL Board Treasurer and Chair of the MWL Knitting Affinity Group. 

Thanks to her strong and steadfast leadership, the MWL Foundation is well-positioned to further its mission of supporting the charitable activities of Minnesota Women Lawyers by 1) funding existing MWL projects that fit its charitable activity criteria; 2) considering additional charitable projects and services that meet MWL's mission; and 3) working to support MWL's overall long-term financial stability.  Without a doubt, Shannon's dedication, strategic direction and tenacity have given the MWL Foundation the jumpstart needed to advance its mission.  Minnesota Women Lawyers extends it sincere thanks to Shannon for her tireless efforts on behalf of MWL and the MWL Foundation.

Shannon Harmon is an attorney with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel's Small Business/Self-Employed Division. Prior to joining Chief Counsel, Shannon served for more than nine years as an Assistant Attorney General with the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, including five years in the Charities Division and four years in the Tax Litigation Division.  She is a graduate of New York University and the University of Minnesota Law School and a native of Cincinnati, Ohio.  

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Minnesota Women Lawyers is an association of nearly 1,300 attorneys, judges, law students and legal employers, dedicated to advancing the success of women attorneys and striving for a just society. Visit our website at www.mwlawyers.org.

 


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