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People & Practices: Feb. 20, 2023

Ellison names Jessica Whitney as deputy AG

Jessica Whitney

Jessica Whitney

Attorney General Keith Ellison has named Jessica Whitney as deputy attorney general. Whitney is an 18-year veteran of the office of former Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. According to a news release Tuesday, she will serve as one of four deputy attorneys general in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and will co-lead the office’s consumer-protection work with current Deputy Attorney General James Canaday when she starts on March 1.

The Attorney General’s Office is divided into four sections, three of which are led by deputy attorneys general and the fourth led by the solicitor general.

The Consumer Protection Section is the largest, encompassing the Consumer, Wage, and Antitrust Division; the Consumer Action Division that responds directly to consumers and residents; the Residential Utilities Division; the Charities Division; the eDiscovery & Litigation Support Division; the Wage Theft Unit; and the Special Outreach and Protection Unit. According to the office’s news release, the section has greatly expanded the range of the office’s consumer-protection work in recent years in the areas of public safety and gun-violence prevention, antitrust, charities litigation, landlord-tenant law, and wage theft, among others. The section is also currently leading the attorney general’s investigation into the proposed merger of Fairview Health Systems and Sanford Health.

“I’m very proud to strengthen our already strong consumer-protection group with nation-leading talent like Jessica Whitney,” Ellison said in the news release. “Iowa may be relatively small, but under Attorney General Miller, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office played an outsized role in leading in consumer protection nationally. The people of Minnesota are fortunate to have legal talent of Jessica’s caliber joining us.”

Whitney most recently served in former Attorney General Miller’s office as deputy attorney general for public policy and consumer protection. In that role, she supervised legal representation for State of Iowa in antitrust, tobacco regulation, civil rights, veterans’ affairs, and labor, and advised the attorney general on civil law, policy and other matters of strategic concern. In 2022, when Attorney General Miller served as president of the non-partisan National Association of Attorneys General, she spearheaded his Presidential Initiative titled “Consumer Protection 2.0: Techs Threats and Tools.”

For seven and a half years, she also served as director of the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, in which role she led one of the strongest consumer-protection divisions in an attorney general’s office in the country. (For two of those years, she served concurrently as deputy attorney general.)

Before that, she served for 11 years as an assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division. Whitney has led a variety of consumer-protection cases and won restitution for consumers in the areas of fraud and deceptive practices by for-profit colleges and universities, debt collection, illegal lending, auto-finance fraud, and other areas. She has also worked extensively in consumer education.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College and a J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

“Jessica Whitney is one of the best consumer protectors in the country at any level, state or federal. She is able to do that because of her competence, judgment, and ability to work with people to get the job done,” said Miller, who left office this year after 40 years as Iowa attorney general, making him the longest-serving state attorney general in U.S. history.

“I am honored and excited to join Attorney General Ellison and his team, working to protect Minnesotans from fraud, abuse, and unfair competition,” Whitney said in the release.

Top row, from left: Cynthia A. Moyer, John C. Pickerill, Ann Dunn Wessberg. Bottom row, from left: Courtney A. H. Thompson, Laura L. Myers

Top row, from left: Cynthia A. Moyer, John C. Pickerill, Ann Dunn Wessberg. Bottom row, from left: Courtney A. H. Thompson, Laura L. Myers

Trademark review recognizes lawyers at Fredrikson

Fredrikson shareholders, Cynthia A. Moyer, John C. Pickerill, Ann Dunn Wessberg, Courtney A. H. Thompson and Laura L. Myers have been named in the 2023 edition of the World Trademark Review 1000: The World’s Leading Trademark Professionals (WTR 1000) for Minnesota.

The publication recognizes the top 1,000 trademark attorneys in the world and firms that are deemed outstanding in the trademark practice. The firm’s Trademark & Copyright Group is one of two Minnesota firms to receive gold band recognition.

“Fredrikson & Byron’s brand experts apply a commercial scheme of thinking when procuring, managing, licensing and litigating trademark rights; building business value and putting companies in strategically advantageous positions is what they do,” the WTR 1000 notes of the team. “They also stay out in front of market trends and developments impacting their clientele, giving their advice a contemporary feel.”

Moyer, chair of the firm’s Trademark & Copyright Group, is described as an “exceptionally diligent and skillful attorney, who consistently provides smart and timely advice. She is more than just an attorney but a trusted partner who understands the vision and goals of her clients and who is willing to do everything necessary to protect them.”

Pickerill, chair of the firm’s Advertising & Marketing Group, is named for his work with global brands such as Hormel Foods, to which he assists with all aspects of trademark protection. The publication highlights his elevated expertise in social media and advertising.

Wessberg, multi-year WTR 1000 gold-ranked attorney, is named one of the best in the world for knowledge, experience, collaboration and communication, specifically on a business executive level.

Thompson and Myers, both shareholders, received their first listings this year. The report highlights Thompson’s supervision of global rights protection initiatives and her proficient international work. Myers’ litigation and refined advocacy skills were noted in the review.

Gale-Butto joins Winthrop & Weinstine

Michael A. Gale-Butto has joined Winthrop & Weinstine as an Associate in the Litigation practice. As a former assistant city attorney for Minneapolis with extensive courtroom experience, Gale-Butto represents clients in all aspects of litigation. He has experience with matters ranging from constitutional law to employment practices, municipal regulations, and law enforcement matters, as well as general business disputes, intellectual property, and trade secret protection and enforcement. As an assistant city attorney, he was involved in more than 200 trials, contested hearings and arbitrations. He earned his J.D. from the University of Minnesota School of Law, and his B.A., in Political Science with a Minor in Philosophy and Law, from Michigan State University.

Arthur Chapman welcomes Lucas Wilson 

Lucas D. Wilson

Lucas D. Wilson

Arthur, Chapman, Kettering, Smetak & Pikala has added attorney Lucas D. Wilson to its Construction Law practice group. He has practiced law for over 10 years, representing clients in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He holds a successful litigation and trial record in a wide range of cases—from high-profile criminal cases to high-stakes civil lawsuits.

The firm’s news release said Wilson has a reputation of outpacing the competition with hard work and going the extra mile to provide delicate client care. Lucas’s track record in courtrooms throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin generate referrals from current and past clients, former professional athletes, police officers, other attorneys, and retired judges.

Wilson is a Korean adoptee who was raised in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

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].

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