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WER Winter 2017 Member Spotlight
Volume LXIV, Issue III

About With Equal Right

In This Issue:
"Stepping Forward (Not Back): Ensuring Progress for Women Attorneys"


MWL News


Upcoming Events

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2016-2017 Board of Directors

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2015-2018 Strategic Plan


MWL Welcomes Your Comments

Member Spotlight: MWL Mentoring Program Participants Amanda Matchett and Kathryn Bjorklund


Amanda Matchett

Amanda J. Matchett practices in the area of intellectual property with a focus on trademark, copyright and technology transactions. Amanda has local and international experience in the food, manufacturing, technology and healthcare industries.

1. When and why did you join MWL?

I joined MWL in April 2016 at the recommendation of a colleague.  I had asked her what organizations she thought were beneficial and she endorsed MWL.  I am not a Minnesota native nor did I go to law school here so it’s been a great opportunity to meet women in this legal community. 

2. Could you describe your background and career path, and current job?

I received my B.S. in Marketing and International Business from Iowa State University in 2008.  I received my J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law in 2011. I sat for and passed the Missouri bar and then moved to Minnesota.  I have had a bit of an untraditional legal career to date.  I worked for Thomson Reuters for two years.  I was General Counsel for Davisco Foods International for a little over a year.  I spent time as an IT Contract Specialist at Fairview Health.  In early 2016, I decided to take the Minnesota bar and move into private practice and have now joined Larkin Hoffman as an IP Associate.

Each of these roles have really played an important role in my career.  At Thomson, I gained valuable research and technology skills.  At Davisco, I dabbled in several areas of the law and gained valuable business support acumen.  At Fairview, I gained substantive technology, data privacy and healthcare experience.  I think it is this combination that has prepared me to practice as I am comfortable learning issues I am not familiar with, researching them, and understanding the needs of business clients. 

3. What motivated you to sign up for MWL’s mentoring program?

I was new to MWL and I thought this would be a fulfilling way to get more involved in the organization.  I also have found it difficult to find mentors and if I can make that easier for someone else, I am glad to do it. 

4. Why is it important for law students to have mentors?  What role can a mentor play for a law student?

It is easy to get a little bit of tunnel vision in law school.  However, having a mentor can help you decide what classes to take, what to focus on, where to look for jobs, and what skills to develop that are most valuable for after law school.  It’s also a great way to take a little break and do something that is not completely focused on school but is still productive and helping you reach your goals. 

5. What have you learned serving in the mentoring role?

Serving as a mentor has been a great reminder of why I joined the legal profession.  Meeting with Kate, we have discussed all the different career opportunities that are available to attorneys; we have discussed what makes a great attorney and the real-world skills that are important; and we have discussed how to balance a full life and a fulfilling career.  Being a mentor has really given me a new focus and helped inspire me to make my most recent career move. 

6. What advice do you have for women law students entering the legal profession?

I think I have told Kate this every time we have met, but remember the things that make you, you. One test, case, or incident does not define who you are as a person.  The bar exam is stressful and whether you pass or fail does not determine whether you are a good person or not, it really doesn’t even determine if you are a good lawyer or not.  Focus on your strengths and what makes you a valuable member of the legal community. 

7. Over the course of your career, what changes have you seen in the profession that have positively impacted or removed barriers experienced by women in the legal profession?

One of the things that sticks out to me is the appointments of more women to the judiciary, especially at the highest levels.  This has been important both for women and for people of color who now see examples like Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Sonya Sotomayor nationally and Justice Natalie Hudson and Justice Anne McKeig locally.  

8. What are key issues yet to be fully addressed that you believe will be most important to women and their ability to achieve equality in the profession?

There are the obvious ones like parental leave opportunities and the wage gap that need to be addressed.  The one issue that is more tailored to the legal profession is that there are huge barriers to entry, first into law school and then into the legal profession.  It is expensive to take the LSAT.  It is expensive to apply for law school.  It is expensive and competitive to get into law school.  It is expensive to take the bar exam.  Then, after all of those expenses, it’s hard to find a job.  I am encouraged by the increased diversity opportunities for summer associates and I would like to see more industries take this tact. 

9. Please share any professional or personal goals you have set for yourself this year?

I am starting a new job and really an entirely new career path, so my goal is to be a valuable contributor to the firm by the end of 2017. 

10. What will be your favorite memory from the Summer of 2016?

My nephew, Jacob, was born in May so watching him grow and start to interact with his world and his big brother, Isaac, is my favorite memory of 2016! 

Kathryn Bjorklund

Kathryn Bjorklund graduated from St. Olaf in 2013, where she studied political science. She has worked in fundraising and communications, as well as direct client services related to HIV and AIDS. After graduating law school at the University of Minnesota, Kathryn hopes to continue working for the public interest. 

1. When and why did you join MWL?

 I joined MWL this fall, which was my first semester of law school, because I wanted to know more about the resources available to me.

2. Describe your background, and which area of law you are most interested in.

 I graduated from St. Olaf in 2013, where I studied political science. I worked for three years in the non-profit sector in San Francisco and Minneapolis. I worked in fundraising and communications, as well as direct client services related to HIV and AIDS. I am still exploring different areas of law, but I hope to work for the public interest.

3. What motivated you to sign up for MWL’s mentoring program?  What are you seeking from a mentor?

 I’ve learned so much from my women mentors in other academic and professional contexts and knew that I wanted to start my legal career with guidance of a mentor. I’m hoping to learn about the profession generally, but also through a lens of a woman. `

4. What has been most valuable to you as a participant in MWL’s mentoring program?

Amanda has been an amazing resource and I have so appreciated being able to talk with her about law school, her career, and life more generally. I’ve appreciated her perspective and support – both of which have helped me stay focused on my goals this semester

5. What are the most valuable experiences you’ve had as an MWL member? 

The opportunity to meet amazing women like Amanda!

6. What advice do you have for women who are considering law school?

I’ve thought many times this semester about how grateful I am to have worked for issues that I care about before entering law school. Not only in preparation for my future career, but also perspective on different ways to be successful.

7. What are key issues yet to be fully addressed that you believe will be most important to women and their ability to achieve equity in the profession? 

I fully agree with Amanda’s assessment and would add that the women I’ve met in my section have been incredibly important to me. I am excited to continue working with these women as colleagues and change-makers.

8. Please share any professional or personal goals you have set for yourself this year?

My goal is to get a better of sense of how I want to contribute and start developing the skills I’ll need to be successful.

9. What will be your favorite memory from 2016?

Having the opportunity to hear Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak was incredibly powerful. 

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