SAPIENTIA RESPONSE TO COVID-19; OPERATIONS CONTINUE REMOTELY

March 23, 2020

Re: We’re all in this together

Clients, colleagues and friends:

In the midst of important national, state, and local health concerns regarding coronavirus 2019, we are all having to evaluate how we do business and how adaptable we are.

Since starting Sapientia Law Group (almost nine years ago to the day), our firm has prioritized providing quality legal services while utilizing flexible work schedules, teleworking arrangements, and collaborative case management. There are many reasons why these fundamental strategies have benefited our clients and our minority- and women-owned company over the years, but that could not be more true today given the challenges our society and the business world is currently managing.

Like many businesses, Sapientia is doing its part to practice social distancing and assist with community
containment mitigation strategies by closing our physical office as of Wednesday, March 18th. With only a slight pivot, our entire team remains fully active in client matters and ongoing litigation. All of our lawyers and staff will observe “Online Workdays” for the immediate future; all are equipped to carry on with our ordinary business, communications, court hearings, conferences, and meetings remotely. Please continue to contact any of our team members by phone or email as usual.

As Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” We are confident that the challenges and circumstances we are all facing will result in all of our businesses rising to the next level and innovating further.

We are all in this together. Please know that we are here to help in any way you need.

Sincerely,

Sonia Miller-Van Oort
President/Chief Manager

PDF version of announcement

Sonia Miller-Van Oort featured on cover of Hennepin Lawyer with other past HCBA women presidents for discussion on gender and law

In its March/April 2020 edition, Hennepin Lawyer magazine featured past HCBA women presidents, including Sapientia’s President, Sonia Miller-Van Oort, for a roundtable discussion on gender and the law and their experiences as women leaders in the profession. A myriad of topics were covered, ranging from the paths the past presidents took that brought them to the law and challenges they faced to leadership in the bar. Sonia served as HCBA President from 2007–2008.

Responding to the topic of work-life balance, Sonia explained, “[I]f you don’t like the rules, change them – so I’ve changed them.” And she has indeed, and not just with work-life balance.  Sonia and the other founding attorneys created a firm that never stops improving and adapting through the creation of an Innovation Advisory Board, significant use of alternative fee arrangements that encourage collaboration among firm attorneys and clients, implementation of a client satisfaction feedback system, and the active promotion of diversity and inclusion in the law. These are only some of the many ways that Sonia has used her leadership skills to foster change in the legal industry and build a law firm that refuses to follow the traditional law firm rules.

To read the article, click the image below.

Sapientia Law Group featured in Attorney At Law Magazine as an innovator in the legal industry

In its January 2020 edition, Attorney At Law Magazine featured Sapientia Law Group and how it is driven by its unique values to “create an inclusive, collaborative practice that delivers extraordinary results and singular value.” The article explores how Sapientia achieves this through alternative fee arrangements, a compensation structure that rewards attorneys for advancing the firm’s values, a horizontal management structure, advancing diversity and inclusion in the law, and its attorneys’ commitment to never stop innovating and improving.

Click the image below to read the article.

Ken Edstrom presents 2019 “CARE Minnesota Volunteer of the Year” Award to Attorney Mawerdi Hamid

On December 17, 2019, at the Minnesota State Bar Association Bankruptcy Section’s Annual Holiday party, Sapientia Attorney Ken Edstrom presented the “CARE Minnesota Volunteer of the Year” Award to Attorney Mawerdi Hamid.  Ken is the Minnesota Coordinator for the national non-profit organization “CARE,” which stands for Credit Abuse Resistance Education.  Mawerdi, an Assistant Minnesota Attorney General was honored for her dedication in presenting financial literacy programs to middle school and high school students during the past year. More information about CARE can be found at care4yourfuture.org.

Sapientia honored with Diversity & Inclusion 2019 Award from Minnesota Lawyer

Back in 2011, six local attorneys took a bold step when they founded a diversity-focused law firm, Minneapolis-based Sapientia Law Group.Sapientia’s founders “took a chance” by forming a firm with diversity at the forefront, said co-founder Sonia Miller-Van Oort, a past president of the Minnesota State Bar Association who serves as the firm’s president and chief manager.

Diversity “is not a standalone issue,” Miller-Van Oort said. “It’s not just a matter of forming a diversity committee. It’s about how you live diversity in all other aspects of the law firm.”

Sapientia embraces diversity in a number of ways: allowing for individual differences and authenticity, and creating an environment that supports diversity and inclusion by: not using billable hours as a metric, rewarding and compensating based on results and data; maintaining a perpetual improvement culture through Peer 360 reviews and client feedback; and eliminating traditional hierarchical titles, structures and dynamics.

The firm’s attorneys are members of Minnesota Black Lawyers Association, Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, and the Lavender Bar Association. Sapientia’s team includes two of the only five female presidents of the Minnesota State Bar Association both of whom advanced diversity and inclusion initiatives at the MSBA while serving, one of whom is the only Hispanic president of MSBA.

The firm has co-hosted, sponsored, and presented several diversity and inclusion-related programs over the last 18 months through MSBA, Minnesota Womens Lawyers’ annual conference, Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, and BrightSmith.

In 2018, Sapientia Group was honored by the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms as “MVP Law Firm of the Year.”

Ken Edstrom to chair panel on senior financial distress on Oct. 4

On Friday, October 4, 2019, Sapientia’s Ken Edstrom will chair a panel on “The Growing Crisis of Seniors in Bankruptcy.”  The 9 a.m. panel is part of the 2019 Minnesota Bankruptcy Institute and will be held at the Minnesota CLE Center located in downtown Minneapolis at the City Center, 33 South 6th St.

Over the past 15 years, debt balances held by younger borrowers held steady or declined. At the same time, debt held by borrowers between the ages of 50 and 80 increased by roughly 60 percent. Bankruptcy filing statistics mirror this trend.  The panel will discuss the depths of this problem, why it is happening and the prospects for reversing the trend. Other members of the panel include:

Chris Farrell. Chris is the senior economics commentator for Minnesota Public Radio. An award winning journalist, Chris is a regular contributor to PBS Next Avenue and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He has written for Bloomberg, Businessweek, the New York Times, Kiplinger’s and other publications.

Professor Pamela Foohey. Professor Foohey is a noted researcher in the areas of consumer law, commercial law and bankruptcy. She teaches at the University of Indiana Law School where chairs the Creditors’ and Debtors’ Rights Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). In addition to her many other professional accomplishments, Professor Foohey currently serves on the editorial advisory board of the American Bankruptcy Law Journal.

Sonia Miller-Van Oort appointed to prestigious ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary

Sonia Miller-Van Oort is one of 15 people serving on the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.  This Committee has been in existence since 1953 and is responsible for evaluating Presidential judicial nominees and providing impartial peer-review evaluations of nominees’ professional qualifications to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Department of Justice, and the White House. Appointment to the Committee is by the ABA President and is based on a lawyer’s possession of the highest professional stature and integrity.

https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/uncategorized/GAO/Backgrounder.authcheckdam.pdf

Ken Edstrom speaks to the members of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Section on the topic of dischargeability actions in bankruptcy as part of Raeder Larson Public Service Award.

On July 16, 2019, Ken Edstrom spoke to the members of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Section on the topic of dischargeability actions in bankruptcy. The talk, entitled: “I Take Exception to Your Discharge” was part of the annual Raeder Larson Public Service Award presented by the Bankruptcy Section’s Pro Bono Subcommittee. The award is presented annually in recognition of the recipient’s dedication to pro bono service and equal access to justice. Both Ken and Jon Strauss are past recipients of this award.

Learn more about the award here: https://www.mnb.uscourts.gov/raeder-larson-public-service-award

Read an outline of Ken’s talk here.

Sapientia Trial Team wins unprecedented federal court trial verdict of $585K in a privacy related matter against the City of Minneapolis and two of its officers.

This is the second trial in the District of Minnesota litigating the Federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act- both of which were tried by Sapientia and both of which resulted in victories with punitive damage assessments against city officials.  https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2019/06/21/jury-awards-585k-to-minneapolis-cop-over-license-lookups/

Sapientia’s Robin Wolpert was recently appointed to the American Bar Association’s National Task Force On Lawyer Well-Being

 Congratulations Robin!

Jon Strauss, will be leading a panel discussion CLE entitled: Workplace Active Shooters: Lawyers Preparing for and Responding to the Unimaginable

On February 18, 2019, Sapientia attorney, Jon Strauss, will be leading a panel discussion CLE entitled: Workplace Active Shooters: Lawyers Preparing for and Responding to the Unimaginable. The class will be held during the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms’ Driving Diversity and Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Jon, an experienced commercial litigator who has worked with clients on reconstructing catastrophic scenes where injuries and deaths have occurred, will be chairing a panel that also includes Gregg McCrary, a former FBI agent who now works for the Threat Assessment Group; Maureen Deskin, General Counsel for Ocean Properties, Ltd., the largest privately held hotel company in North America; Christopher Knopik, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for the Laser Spine Institute; Paul Logan, principal at the Physical Security Architects; and Ashley Larson, of Sutton Booker P.C., who has experience assisting clients with crisis management and investigations of workplace shootings. Jon hopes this CLE will help lawyers better prepare their clients to take measure to discourage active shooters, train employees for handling a shooter should they appear on the premises, and to address of the aftermath should such a horrible situation occur.

On Thursday, January 31, 2019 Sapientia attorney Amy Gernon will co-present “Diversity & the Predicament of Good Intentions: Lessons from an Anthropologist”

Sapientia attorney Amy Gernon will co-present “Diversity & the Predicament of Good Intentions: Lessons from an Anthropologist” on Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 3:30pm, an event sponsored by Minnesota Women Lawyers. Sapientia Law Group will host a reception after the event. Event space is limited. To register click here

We think we understand diversity and know how to engage with it.  But if we don’t take the time to think about diversity in complex ways, we risk unintentionally trafficking in the exact patterns we seek to avoid. Using an anthropological lens, we’ll discuss legal initiatives and case studies to find ways to overcome the predicament of good intentions.

Sapientia Law Group: Setting trends locally & nationally

“Our concept is to work as one team…and not be hierarchical in nature…where everyone has a seat at the table… [and] is acknowledged for the unique perspective they bring…it allows us to work…in a more collaborative culture” Sonia Miller-Van Oort explains in an article about Sapientia Law Group setting trends locally and nationally, as described in the recent edition of Attorney at Law magazine. Click for More

Robin Wolpert Honored by Minnesota Lawyer with Diversity & Inclusion Award.

Attorney Robin Wolpert was one of 20 individual honorees commended by Minnesota lawyer for contributions to diversity and inclusion efforts within the Minnesota legal community.  Learn More

September 24, 2018- Sapientia Law Group honored by National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms as “MVP Law Firm of the Year.”

Sapientia Law Group Helps Fill Backpacks for Homeless Youth in the Twin Cities

On August 19, 2018, Sapientia lawyers, staff, along with their family and friends, helped fill backpacks for homeless teens and youth in the Twin Cities.  We assisted Backpack Project MN in stuffing over 300 backpacks with school supplies, personal hygiene products, sexual health items, flashlights, gifts, gift cards, and water bottles.  It was a fun, meaningful time for all of us and the other great volunteers that helped out this wonderful organization.  We really appreciated the opportunity to directly assist people who are experiencing homelessness as the backpacks will be provided to local crisis centers.

Sonia Miller-Van Oort named as one of Minnesota’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®

Attorney Sonia Miller-Van Oort was recently name to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for Minnesota. This recognition identifies the nation’s most exceptional trial attorneys in high value, high stakes legal matters. To be considered for selection, an attorney must have litigated (for either plaintiff or defendant) a matter (1) with at least $2,000,000 in alleged damages at stake or (2) with the fate of a business worth at least $2,000,000 at stake. Of those attorneys who qualify, the top High Stakes Litigators in each state are evaluated and ranked based on the candidate’s professional experience, litigation experience, significant case results, representative high stakes matters, peer reputation, and community impact. Less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States are reported to have received this honor. Learn more.

Sonia Miller-Van Oort recognized as one of Minnesota’s Best Lawyers!

Congratulations to Sonia Miller-Van Oort who was recognized in Minnesota Monthly as one of Minnesota’s Best Lawyers! Learn More

An event for women leaders in the Twin Cities on Feb. 13

An event for women leaders in the Twin Cities on Feb 13 at 3:45–6:30pm

Join Drinks Among Friends for refreshments, relationship building and a two panel discussion, “Harassment in the Workplace & Acting as a Culture Creator

Learn More

Robin Wolpert appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court to serve as Chair of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board.