People & Practices: March 20, 2023
Merchant & Gould names Kliebenstein managing director
Merchant & Gould P.C., a national technology and innovation law firm, has announced that Heather J. Kliebenstein, a Minneapolis shareholder who joined in 2004, has been named managing director of Merchant & Gould’s seven offices, effective Jan. 30, succeeding Christopher J. Leonard. She joins Tracey R. Skjeveland, the firm’s COO and CFO, and leads a three-person Executive Committee.
Kliebenstein will remain client-focused, while Skjeveland manages day-to-day operations. Kliebenstein and the Executive Committee will steer the firm and provide direction for long-range planning and growth.
Kliebenstein is the firm’s first female managing director in its 123-year history, and the Kliebenstein-Skjeveland duo is focused on a more modern and collaborative approach to leadership.
“Our industry is ready to increase the role of women in leadership — supporting the unique perspective and diversity of thinking for our clients, industry, and community. Inclusion and innovation are at the core of Merchant & Gould’s principles and culture, and these values have never been more important,” said Kliebenstein.
As an IP litigator with a technical background, Kliebenstein represents her clients in court and counsels those clients regarding intellectual property portfolio strategy. She specializes in trademark, trade dress, copyright, advertising, unfair competition, breach of contract, patent, design patent and trade secret litigation, particularly cases that intertwine multiple intellectual properties, contracts and other federal or state claims. Kliebenstein is the former chair of Merchant & Gould’s Litigation Practice.
Skjeveland joined Merchant & Gould in 1999 as a financial analyst. In 2006, she was named CFO. In 2014, Skjeveland was named the firm’s COO.
“We are becoming more process oriented and streamlined to allow us to grow our technology and innovation focus. More than ever, it has become abundantly clear that our platform is highly desirable in the IP legal market,” said Skjeveland.
Arthur Chapman welcomes attorney Arianna D. Chapman
Attorney Arianna D. Chapman has joined Arthur, Chapman, Kettering, Smetak & Pikala, P.A.
Chapman’s practice focuses in automobile law, commercial transportation, and general liability. She has experience representing clients in various areas of civil litigation. Chapman also worked as a trial paralegal for six years before starting law school at Mitchell Hamline.
While in law school, Chapman pursued a certificate from the highly ranked Dispute Resolution Institute at Mitchell Hamline. She won a regional championship as part of the Mediation-Representation team at Mitchell Hamline.
Arthur Chapman welcomes attorney Smith-Marsette
Attorney Inayah J. Smith-Marsette has joined Arthur, Chapman, Kettering, Smetak & Pikala.
Smith-Marsette focuses her practice on Minnesota workers’ compensation law. She graduated from Delaware State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and a minor in forensic science. She earned her law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in December 2021. She clerked for Franklin Reed, referee of Hennepin County District Court, and Toddrick S. Barnette, chief judge of Hennepin County District Court.
In law school, Inayah served as chief justice of the Moot Court Board, resource editor of the Law Review Board, president of the Black Law Students Association, and vice president of Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society.
Spencer Fane adds employment lawyer Ojoyeyi
Toni Ojoyeyi has joined Spencer Fane LLP’s Labor and Employment practice group as an associate in the firm’s Minneapolis office.
Ojoyeyi counsels clients on the implementation of effective best practices and policies regarding employee matters while helping them navigate an increasingly complex regulatory and compliance environment for businesses. Her preventive law approach helps employers to avoid employer-employee disputes and potentially costly litigation.
Her practice also entails conducting workplace investigations, compliance training, and the defense of employment-related claims.
“Toni brings to her employment law practice impressive global credentials and proven advocacy skills that are valuable to her clients,” said Donald G. Heeman, office managing partner for Spencer Fane in Minneapolis.
Ojoyeyi, who received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Minnesota, is a leader in the Twin Cities legal community, presently serving on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers and the Hennepin County Bar Association.
Privacy attorney Hammer joins Husch Blackwell
Brad Hammer has joined Husch Blackwell’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation business unit and Data Privacy and Cybersecurity group as a partner. A resident of the Minneapolis metropolitan area, Hammer is based in the firm’s virtual Link office and is the seventh Minnesota-based lawyer to join the firm since May 2022.
In just over a decade of private practice, Hammer has established himself in the area of data privacy law. Hammer founded Vakaris Group in 2016 as a boutique firm that provided data privacy law capabilities to clients spanning numerous industries and sizes. His legal counsel encompasses a range of data privacy law matters, including international compliance issues, privacy program development, implementation, and maintenance, due diligence and vendor management, and breach/incident response.
“The scale and scope of data privacy concerns faced by our clients are growing by the day, and Brad’s ability to distill the complexities of data privacy law into clear, actionable advice is something our clients will appreciate,” said Jeffrey Sigmund, the head of Husch Blackwell’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation group.
Said Hammer, “I’m excited to bring my practice to a law firm that shares my vision of providing innovative, client-centric legal services. Pairing this model to compliance advice with the fantastic resources and privacy team at Husch Blackwell will only serve to improve my clients’ experience and outcomes.”
Faegre Drinker announces appointments
Faegre Drinker has announced its 2023 practice group leadership appointments — including Christopher Dolan, Amy Fiterman, Steve Lokensgard, Erica MacDonald, Dan Prokott and Scott Wright, all based out of the firm’s Minneapolis office.
Practice Group Leadership
The following attorneys will be appointed to practice group and industry team leadership positions on April.
Minneapolis partner Amy Fiterman succeeds Joe Tanner as Faegre Drinker’s product liability and mass torts practice group leader. Fiterman serves clients as trial, national, regional or local counsel in actions most often involving mass torts and multidistrict litigation for a variety of products, with a focus on the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
Minneapolis partner Steve Lokensgard succeeds Jeffrey Ganiban as Faegre Drinker’s health care practice leader. Lokensgard advises health care clients on regulatory and compliance issues, investigations and transactions. Special areas of focus include digital health and pharmacy issues.
Deputy Practice Group Leadership
Effective Jan. 1, Indianapolis partner Andrew Campbell, Minneapolis partner Christopher Dolan and partner Traci McKee have been appointed deputy practice group leaders of Faegre Drinker’s product liability and mass torts practice under incoming practice group leader Amy Fiterman. Dolan represents clients in complex environmental litigation and helps clients reduce risk and operate successfully within environmental laws and regulations.
Practice Team Leadership
The following attorneys were appointed to practice team leadership positions on Jan. 1.
Minneapolis partner Erica MacDonald and Washington, D.C., partner Henry Van Dyck succeeded partner Nicholas Klinefeldt as co-leaders of Faegre Drinker’s white collar defense and investigations team. MacDonald is a former U.S. Attorney and district court judge who serves clients in white collar defense, internal investigations, trial strategies and quasi-judicial matters such as monitorships.
Minneapolis partner Dan Prokott has succeeded Susan Kline as leader of Faegre Drinker’s labor and employment group’s compliance, training and transactions team. Prokott advises businesses regarding complex workplace matters. He represents employers of all sizes, including multinational public and private companies, established and emerging private businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
Minneapolis partner Scott Wright became leader of Faegre Drinker’s labor and employment group’s immigration team. Recognized nationally for his proficiency in I-9 and immigration compliance matters, Wright counsels on immigration issues that arise in employment decisions, mergers and acquisitions, government audits and investigations, and labor law disputes.
People & Practices is a lightly edited compilation of news releases from law firms and other organizations. Minnesota Lawyer welcomes news about hires, promotions and other activities in the legal profession. Send releases (and photos if desired) to [email protected].