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Kristin Haugen
Kristin Haugen

Breaking the Ice: Leading Minnesota Women Lawyers’ 50th year

Name: Kristin Haugen

Title: Vice president/legal, LifeWorks; president, Minnesota Women Lawyers

Education: B.A., psychology, Cornell University; J.D., University of Illinois College of Law

Minnesota Women Lawyers President Kristin Haugen says the organization will highlight members as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding.

Haugen, who began her yearlong term as president in July, said the “50 Years, 50 Voices” profiles will show the depth and breadth of Minnesota Women Lawyers’ (MWL) membership.

During its 50th year, the organization also will continue its monthly MWL Member Mondays programs, which typically offer continuing legal education credit.

Haugen found “an amazing community of lawyers that I have so much in common with and learn so much from” when she joined MWL early in her legal career. MWL has affinity groups for in-house lawyers, newer and experienced lawyers as well as health and wellness and knitting groups and a book club.

Haugen is vice president/legal at LifeWorks, a global leader provider of technology-enabled solutions that help support social, mental, physical and financial well-being. She also has worked in solo practice and at a large firm.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Say hello and tell me something about yourself. I really love meeting new people and learning their personal story.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: I wanted to help people. Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. Then I think I was in sixth grade when I did a research project on Gideon v. Wainwright, a Supreme Court case (guaranteeing the right to counsel) and immediately fell in love with the law. I knew from that moment on that I wanted to be a lawyer. The more that I learned about the law and the practice of law, the more that it seemed like a really good fit. I love to read, I love to argue, I love to be very analytical in my thinking. It seemed like a career where I would always be challenged and always be learning.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: I’m reading “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” by Adam Grant. Next up is “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson. I’m finishing up “Bounty” by Janet Evanovich.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: People who don’t follow through.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: Definitely the people. I work with an amazing team of lawyers, legal professionals and businesspeople. We have an incredibly collaborative environment, and our business is all about helping people.

Q: Least favorite?

A: There seems to be a never-ending stream of e-mail. No matter how many you respond to there always seems to be more coming in.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: Anything active, that gets me outside. I’m doing a lot of waterskiing, wakesurfing, swimming. In the winter I love to go skiing. Spring and fall, I spent a lot of time outdoors walking or hiking.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: I would take them to Song Mountain, where I learned to ski and spent countless hours on the slopes. I have fond memories of skiing with my family all the time while I was growing up and even still when I was in college. It’s in Tully, New York, half an hour out of Syracuse, where I grew up.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was thoughtful, pragmatic and undaunted in the face of adversity. She was a fellow Cornell University alumna who I was fortunate enough to get to meet.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: That it’s always adversarial because it really isn’t. You’re advocating for your client’s best interest, but often that best interest is achieved by trying to be a creative problem solver.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: “My Cousin Vinny.” Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei were perfect. It was actually very technically accurate. More importantly it showed the value of tenacity and willingness to learn.

 

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