HCBA Secretary: Tom Nelson
If variety is the spice of life, Tom Nelson promises to bring a distinctive flavor to his position as the HCBA’s newly elected secretary. His experience and skill in a wide range of practice areas and environments guarantees a creative approach to issues facing the bar.
Prior to practicing law, Nelson was a founder, teacher, and administrator of a public high school in New Haven, Conn., called High School in the Community, an innovative environment where students are encouraged to engage in their community through a rigorous program of study and volunteer service.
However, the law called, and after graduating from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1977, Nelson clerked for Judge Thomas J. Meskill of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before beginning his career in private practice with the Connecticut law firm of Tyler Cooper. A Minnesota native, Nelson returned to the state in 1983, when he joined the law firm of Popham, Haik, Schnobrich, Kaufman & Doty. He joined Leonard, Street, and Deinard in 1997.
While his current practice focuses on commercial litigation, Nelson has tackled a variety of complex legal issues over his career, including First Amendment work, maritime law, and habeas corpus proceedings. Nelson’s practice has had its lighter side as well. He represented one company in a lawsuit brought by Alice the Cat, and then later represented two cairn terriers, named Gus and Loki, in their claim against the neighborhood pit bull.
Nelson, exhibiting a passion for public service, is actively involved in the legal and greater Twin Cities communities, including service as chair of the HCBA’s Bar Memorial Committee and work with the University of Minnesota Law School Guantanamo Defense Project—which he describes as one of his most fulfilling legal experiences. He serves on the boards of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, the Swedish American Institute, and the Landmark Center in St. Paul. Nelson is also deeply committed to the promotion of diversity. He serves on the Board of Directors for Twin Cities/Diversity in Practice, co-chairs Leonard, Street and Deinard’s Diversity Initiative, and serves on the Minnesota chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the HCBA, and the MSBA diversity committees.
As he enters the HCBA’s leadership track, Nelson looks forward to learning how to effectively manage a bar association and maximize the value the HCBA offers members of its litigation and transactional bars. He believes that the HCBA plays extremely important roles in strengthening and supporting its members in their professional lives, enhancing the relationship between Hennepin County judges and lawyers, and addressing diversity in the legal profession. Given the importance of these roles, Nelson also sees them as presenting the HCBA’s greatest challenges. Nelson, however, is ready to meet these challenges, stating that he is “eager to work with the members of the bar association and its fantastic professional staff.”
Outside of the office, Nelson enjoys spending time with his wife, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, and two sons, Robert and Michael.
New Lawyers Section Chair: Jennifer Mead
The HCBA welcomes Jennifer Mead as the chair of its New Lawyers Section (NLS). Mead, who serves as compliance counsel at Boston Scientific Corporation, is no stranger to the NLS. The 2007 University of Wisconsin Law School graduate has previously completed terms as NLS’s community service director, treasurer, and vice chair. Mead’s considerable experience working with new lawyers and her ambition to provide NLS members with a diverse range of professional development resources will lead the NLS in positive and exciting directions over the course of the 2011-2012 year.
According to Mead, the motto of the NLS is to “serve, socialize, and succeed,” and the NLS offers its members many opportunities to do just that. NLS members can participate in a variety of community service activities, such as volunteering with Feed My Starving Children, assisting at naturalization ceremonies, and participating in annual “Law Day” activities, which teach high school students about the legal profession and the law.
The NLS is also dedicated to addressing the issues and challenges affecting new lawyers. One of Mead’s goals is to help NLS members navigate the job market and overcome obstacles presented by the current economic climate. She states, “It’s a tough environment; there are many people who want to have jobs but don’t. The challenge for NLS is to get those individuals involved and help them succeed.” The NLS’s CLE offerings, such as its annual “Nuts and Bolts” program and the section’s new study group initiative, which aims to facilitate monthly substantive discussions in a variety of practice areas, provide new lawyers with excellent learning and networking opportunities.
An accomplished collegiate hockey player, Mead is far from being all work and no play. She’s quick to point out that the NLS organizes many social events, including several happy hours co-hosted with the Ramsey County and Minnesota Bar associations. These events allow new lawyers to develop deeper connections with other lawyers in the Twin Cities communities. Mead explains that “new lawyers need to get to know their peers, which can be difficult for those new to the area, but it is also important for them to build relationships with experienced attorneys who have been there before.” NLS events provide members with opportunities to ask questions and obtain feedback from more experienced attorneys in a comfortable and safe atmosphere.
While Mead is more than ready to guide NLS as its new chair, she emphasizes the crucial role its members play in shaping the section’s focus and direction: “The NLS loves to see new faces at its meetings and values the fresh ideas and perspectives new members bring to the table.” Under Mead’s direction, the door is open, and she’s ready to welcome new lawyers to the opportunities and experiences the NLS has to offer.
New Lawyers Section Officers
Chair - Jennifer Mead
Vice Chair - Claire Gagnon
Secretary - Lee Orwig
Treasurer - Anna Lima
Social Director - Jayne Sykora
CLE Director - Nickey Nichols
Professionalism Director - Jennifer Olson
Community Service Director - Wing Sze Sun