Business Law Institute Advisory Board
Mike Carlson ’91 , BBVA Compass
Mike provides strategic analysis and sophisticated legal advice to lawyers and senior management. Experience includes: 1) advising clients regarding regulatory strategy, implementation of new statutory and regulatory schemes, new products, licensing, charters, branching, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory applications with and matters before various state and federal regulatory agencies (e.g. Federal Reserve, FDIC and state agencies); 2) assisting clients in connection with business planning, formation and chartering of special purpose banking entities such as credit card banks, industrial loan companies and trust companies; 3) advising clients on a wide variety of payment system issues such as development, deployment and use of automated clearing house (ACH) systems, credit cards, wire transfers, stored value products, mobile payments; internet payment mechanisms and financial services kiosks; and 4) representation of originators, purchasers and services of residential mortgage loans, lessors in middle market and consumer leasing, and lenders in a variety of projects.
A shareholder in Fredrikson & Byron’s Minneapolis Office and Chair of the firm’s Bank & Finance Group, Karen is a nationally recognized financial services regulatory attorney, financial industry advisor, and dealmaker.
Prior to joining Fredrikson, she had a 14-year career with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis where she was the Senior Vice President of the Banking Supervision and Risk Management Departments. In this position, she was the senior officer in charge of safety and soundness, consumer, CRA, trust, and IT examinations, as well as applications involving banks and holding companies located in the Ninth Federal Reserve District. Karen received her J.D. at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
James E. Hanson ’12
Jim is Senior Vice President of Wells Fargo & Company, responsible for the Company’s external financial reporting activities, including SEC reporting and corporate regulatory reporting. His teams also support the Company’s mergers and acquisitions process, including due diligence, structuring and transition of acquired companies. Mr. Hanson holds various roles with the Company’s subsidiaries and serves as director on several subsidiary boards. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Mr. Hanson was a Senior Manager with the international public accounting firm, KPMG LLP. Mr. Hanson holds a BBA in Accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law, where he serves as an Adjunct Professor and a member of the BLI Advisory Board. In addition to admission to the Minnesota Bar, Mr. Hanson is also licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Micah Mitchell Hines, former General Counsel to Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon
Micah Mitchell Hines joined the Dayton Administration in February 2011 as the Governor’s Assistant Chief of Staff. In August 2011, the Governor appointed her General Counsel.
As General Counsel, Micah provides legal advice to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and office staff regarding legislative issues, executive orders, and other legal matters. In addition, Micah serves as the Governor’s designee on the Minnesota State Board of Investment, which is the state agency responsible for investing over $60 billion in state retirement funds and other assets. Micah also continues the community outreach efforts she undertook as Assistant Chief of Staff.
Before joining the Governor’s Office, Micah practiced law at Blackwell Burke, P.A., Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, and as in house litigation counsel as State Farm Insurance Companies. Micah is an experienced trial attorney, having tried over 100 cases in court.
Micah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and African American Studies from Duke University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a Dean’s Scholar.
In her free time, Micah enjoys mentoring and being an active member of her community. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, the YWCA of Minneapolis, and the Business Law Institute at Hamline Law School.
Cecily Hines, LCH Consulting
Cecily is an experienced senior executive with particular expertise in the medical device industry and global business structures. She was a member of the senior management of publicly held medical device companies. Areas of experience include: medical device regulatory issues, global sales and distribution, corporate compliance, patent portfolio and intellectual property strategy, crisis planning, litigation management, acquisitions and divestitures, public company requirements, containment of legal costs. Other industry experience: hospitality and telecommunications.
Charles Johnson ’75
Charles “Chuck” Johnson practices exclusively in the areas of mass tort, commercial and consumer class actions, antitrust, product liability and commercial litigation. He has been in private practice since 1975 and has extensive practice experience in federal multi-district litigation. Mr. Johnson’s firm was one of the first firms to discover and seek redress for the serious health problems caused to thousands of woman who used the Dalkon Shield contraceptive device. Mr. Johnson has successfully represented thousands of individual clients and has received continuous recognition for his work.
Mr. Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and J.D. from Hamline University. He was not only a member of Hamline Law’s first graduating class, he was also part of the group that formed the law school. He has continued his connection and support of Hamline through service as a trustee, financial support for scholarships and the Business Law and Dispute Resolution Institutes, and as an employer of Hamline alumni; he estimates that he has hired more than fifty Hamline law students over the years.
Matt Johnson ’07
Matt practiced law in the law firms of Galena Law Firm, P.A. and Lockridge Grindal Nauen, P.L.L.P. before founding Contour Innovations, LLC, a cloud-based mapping software, as a tech entrepreneur.
Matt received dual BBAs in Finance and Business Economics from the University of Wisconsin -Eau Claire and his JD from Hamline University School of Law. After a three years of law practice Matt left the traditional legal career to co-found Contour Innovations, LLC a software as a service mapping platform. Matt acted as Contour’s CEO from its inception, through 3 rounds of fund raising and successful exit to Navico, Inc, a Norwegian Company and leader in marine electronics with brands like Lowrance and Simrad. While still working for the acquiring company Matt is also an angel investor, the co-founder of Able Seedhouse and Brewery in NE Minneapolis and a consultant through his company Objective Pear to help tech start-ups to design strategic milestones and raise funds. Matt lives in Roseville with his wife and daughter.
Michael S. LaFontaine ’03 , Halleland Habicht
Mike is the son of a community banker and was drawn to the business of banking and joined U.S. Bancorp as a young attorney. After rising through the ranks, I led a team of almost one thousand risk managers and served on U.S. Bancorp’s executive managing committee through the most tumultuous time in banking in nearly 100 years. It’s this deep operational, legal and management experience that I bring to my clients today. I understand the challenges my clients face. I’ve been there and know how to find smart solutions to difficult problems. People I work with say that I am: Driven—I know that success comes from hard work, perseverance and delivering results. Simply put, your success is my objective. Practical—Having been a banker myself, I know that legal advice is only helpful if it can actually be implemented. I work with my clients to achieve right-sized and practical solutions. Balanced—There’s a smart balance between lawyering and delivering value to clients. There’s a smart balance in life too, which is why you’ll find me hiking, fishing or just hanging out on the shores of Lake Superior with my family when I’m away from the office.
Gwen Lerner ’78
Gwen Lerner, a retired corporate employment law attorney, was an early graduate of Hamline University School of Law where she served as editor of the first issue of the Hamline Law Review. Prior to law school she attended Smith College, received a BA from Barnard College of Columbia University and an MA in art history and museology from the University of Minnesota, then engaged in a career as Registrar of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. She clerked for the late Minnesota Supreme Court Justice (Hamline emeritus trustee) James C. Otis, Jr., and was in-house counsel with Land O’Lakes and Control Data Corporation before joining The General Counsel, Ltd., and representing ADC Telecommunications. She received the 1994 Minnesota State Bar Association President’s Award with co-founders of the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, served as President (1995-97), and represented foster children for many years. Named a law school Distinguished Alumna in 2000 and included in Hamline’s 150 Lives That Make a Difference in 2005, she has held board positions with Family & Children’s Service (now The Family Partnership) in Minneapolis and The Friends of The St. Paul Public Library. Since 2004 she has served on the Minnesota Department of Corrections Advisory Task Force on Female Offenders. Elected a Hamline trustee in 1995, she was re-elected in 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2013, and has chaired several committees and served as secretary of the Board.
Mr. Madel is a Partner and member of the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. Executive Board. His areas of practice include Antitrust and Trade Regulation, Business Litigation, Corporate Governance and Special Situations and Government and Internal Investing. Prior to RKMC, Chris was a Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division in Washington, D.C. Chris earned his J.D. at the University of Michigan Law School.
Natasha Martin ’07
Ms. Martin currently works for Infor, as an in-house attorney. Infor, previously Lawson, provides enterprise software and service solutions in the manufacturing, distribution, maintenance, healthcare and rental management industries to over 4,500 customers throughout the world. Natasha’s expertise includes drafting and negotiating complex agreements, international business transactions, mergers and acquisitions, data privacy and employment law related matters.
Natasha is a graduate of Hamline University School of Law in 2007. While at Hamline, she worked as a research assistant and law clerk and participated in the Trial Practice and the Employment Discrimination Mediation Representation clinics.
John McDonald ’85
John is a shareholder with Briggs and Morgan, Professional Association. He is a member of the firm’s Financial Institutions and Real Estate Section, and chairs its Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring Practice Group. He practices principally in the areas of Bankruptcy, Workout and Creditors’ rights; Distressed Transactions and Financial Litigation.
John received a J.D. with honors from Hamline University School of Law in 1985. John is published in various publications, including the Hamline Law Review and the National Law Journal, is a frequent lecturer on bankruptcy, creditors’ rights and commercial topics, and is often quoted locally on bankruptcy and turnaround topics.
Lynn comes to the board with a history of service to Hamline University and many other nonprofit organizations. Lynn has significant experience in starting up and running small businesses.
Bill Thornton ’78
Bill is chair of Larkin Hoffman’s Corporate Law Department. Bill’s practice focuses on domestic and international business transactions, with an emphasis on: international licensing, distribution, franchising, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and general commercial matters. He works with clients regarding the business aspects, as well as the legal aspects, of various business transactions.
Bill is a graduate of Hamline University School of Law and Northeastern University in Boston.
Dan is a shareholder with Nilsson Brandt P.A. and practices in the areas of real estate, land use and condemnation law, secured lending, commercial law and business entity law. He holds the real property specialist certification from the Real Property Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association. Law & Politics has frequently listed him as a Minnesota Super Lawyer since 1996.
Dan represents both for profit and non-profit developers in acquisition, financing, sale, development and leasing matters.
He represents lenders and servicers in areas of real estate mortgage financing, regulatory compliance, workout, loan modifications and foreclosure actions and has developed and assisted in preparing “standard loan documents” for several of his bank clients. He represents clients, both commercial and residential, needing representation with the purchase, sale, leasing and financing of all segments of the real estate marketplace.
Recently, Dan helped organize a national coalition of non-profit real estate developers and municipal redevelopment agencies to develop an infrastructure to acquire, rehabilitate and re-sell foreclosed and abandoned properties from banks and servicers with the goal of stabilizing urban cities ravaged by the foreclosure crisis.
Niel Willardson, senior vice president and general counsel, oversees the Enterprise Risk Group, Financial Management Group, and the Law Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. He also serves as corporate secretary to the Minneapolis Board of Directors.
Niel has been with the Bank since 1990 and has worked in several leadership positions in the Bank, serving as a manager in the Banking Supervision Department, department officer in Human Resources, and managing officer in the Banking Supervision Department. In 2000, he joined the Bank’s senior management team and served as senior vice president over Supervision, Regulation and Credit for eight years. Niel was named general counsel in 2005 and corporate secretary in 2009.
In addition to his Reserve Bank responsibilities, Niel serves as an adjunct law professor at the University of Minnesota law school, where in 2010, he was the inaugural recipient of the Stanley V. Kinyon Adjunct Teacher of the Year award. Niel received his J.D. degree from the University of Minnesota.