Minneapolis law firm Henson Efron designed its new Capella Tower office to embrace a new way of work.
Capella Tower is a 58-story certified LEED Gold building in the center of downtown Minneapolis that was built in 1992. The building’s distinctive crown is an icon on the Minneapolis skyline.
The new office supports how the nature of work has evolved over the past year and incorporates flexibility that will continue into the future, Henson Efron says. The 45-year-old firm will occupy 15% less space than their previous footprint at U.S. Bank Plaza.
“Even though the space is smaller, it feels more open because of the design elements, including use of glass walls. It’s bright, contemporary and technically innovative — that’s our culture,” said Lisa Spencer, the firm’s president.
“Reducing our footprint accommodates a flexible work schedule for our employees,” she added. “We’ve incorporated hoteling stations, since we anticipate that some employees will continue to embrace the remote work style. That said, in-person interactions can’t be replaced when it comes to creativity and innovation. … The challenge of the coming years is to find the right balance between remote and in-person work.”
Considerable efforts were made to accommodate COVID protocols in the new build. Deionized technology has been added to collect dust, pollen and viruses in the space, and workstations are spread out with high glass dividers to support social distancing. Finishes were also carefully selected for easy sanitizing and many touch-free amenities were added.
The firm worked with ESG Architecture & Design on the build out design that had client experience as their main priority. “Overall, the space is inviting and open.” Spencer said. “Clients will also like the convenient underground parking and increased security and first floor amenities.”
The 30-attorney law firm continues to be committed to downtown Minneapolis and sees their presence downtown as necessary for a firm of their stature. “Even though the events of the last year have been devastating, downtown Minneapolis is a hub of our economy and industry. We are confident that downtown will flourish again,” Spencer said.
Mitchell Hamline School of Law President Anthony Niedwiecki has announced the appointment of Michael Birchard to be Mitchell Hamline’s inaugural vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Birchard will be part of Niedwiecki’s executive leadership team and will engage with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community to lead the campus in developing a strategy for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“I am excited to join the Mitchell Hamline community as we strive to incorporate equity and inclusion as a part of our standard decision-making processes,” said Birchard, who comes to Mitchell Hamline from more than 20 years at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, a network of public community colleges and universities across the state. For the past two years, he’s been associate vice president for equity and inclusion at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College. The schools are in Rosemount and Inver Grove Heights, respectively.
He’s also an adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, where he teaches a master’s course called Human Relations, Cultural Diversity, and American Indian Culture.
Raised in Willmar, Minnesota, Birchard has two degrees from St. Cloud State University.
During his time at Inver Hills and Dakota County Tech, his work included starting an American Indian advisory council and the creating of a racial equity policy, one of many equity-minded policies. After the murder of George Floyd, he also worked with Inver Hills’ law enforcement program to include focused instruction on antiracism and community service work.
Birchard was also an early member of the Minnesota State Indigenous Men and Men of Color Workgroup, which focuses on recruiting and retaining students and employees to the Minnesota State system who are Indigenous men and men of color.
Birchard will start at Mitchell Hamline on June 1.
Heather Marx, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Commercial Litigation practice and vice chair of the firm’s Trade Remedies practice, has been named to The American Lawyer’s 2021 inaugural list of Midwest Trailblazers.
The “Trailblazers” represent agents of change who have moved the needle at their respective firms, making significant marks on practice, policy, and technological advancements in their areas of legal practice.
Marx, who practices out of Cozen O’Connor’s Minneapolis office, was recognized for being the vice chair of one of the only full-service trade practices based outside the high-cost coastal hubs.
In addition, The American Lawyer selection committee named Marx to the list based on a major duty-refund case that she is now leading. In September 2020, she and the Cozen O’Connor team filed claims on behalf of 11 clients to the Court of International Trade directly challenging the validity of the third and fourth waves of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in 2018 on goods imported from China. In loose collaboration with other leading trade practitioners, representing thousands of plaintiffs altogether, the claim contends that those tariffs are invalid because the U.S. Government did not act with legitimate regulatory authority.
Marx represents corporations and individuals in customs, imports, and trade matters, corporate contractual and partnership disputes, real estate and leasing issues, and litigation related to leases and guaranties, bankruptcy adversary proceedings, commercial transactions and disputes, and issues of employment law.
She also advises both domestic and international clients on strategies for foreign-based manufacture, importation, and distribution of goods and how to safeguard against anti-competitive trade barriers, regulatory systems, and trade remedies. Marx represents clients in matters before U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the International Trade Administration, and the U.S. Trade Representative, in addition to the United States District Courts, the U.S. Court of International Trade, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Marx is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College (B.A, 1999) and Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., 2002). She is currently an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School, where she teaches the bankruptcy litigation clinic.
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