MPA Annual Convention

  • May 11, 2017
  • 7:30 AM - 4:45 PM
  • North Hennepin Community College, 7411 85th Ave. N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445


MPA invites you to our 2017 Annual Convention, May 11, 2017 at North Hennepin Community College. Check out the speakers and sessions below, or download the registration information packet here.

Keynote Speakers

Lunch Keynote: Paralegals in Public Service

Karla Bigham, Washington County Commissioner

Learn how to put your paralegal education and experience to use by giving back to the community.  

Karla Bigham was elected to the Washington County Board on November 4, 2014. Commissioner Bigham served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2007 until 2011. She was the Vice Chair of the Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee, and served on the Public Safety Finance, State Government Finance, and Veteran Affairs Committees.

From 2005 until 2007, Commissioner Bigham served on the Cottage Grove City Council. She led the effort to secure funding and establish partnerships for the police department’s K9 Unit. Additionally, Commissioner Bigham has chaired the Cottage Grove Charter Commission and has been a member of the Cottage Grove Environmental Commission.

Commissioner Bigham received her Bachelor's Degree as a paralegal from Winona State University in 2001. From 2004 until 2011, she worked for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office as a paralegal on the Property Crimes Team.  Additionally, she worked as a paralegal and public affairs coordinator for Northern Tier Energy.

Commissioner Bigham obtained a Master of Public Affairs Degree from the University of Minnesota in 2013. Commissioner Bigham and her husband, John, live in Cottage Grove, Minnesota.

Afternoon Keynote: Self-Represented Litigants and Alternative Legal Models

Judge John R. Rodenberg, Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge

John R. Rodenberg was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals by Governor Mark Dayton in February 2012, and was elected to the bench in 2014.  He was previously a District Court Judge within Minnesota's Fifth Judicial District and was appointed in 2000. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Rodenberg was an attorney with Berens, Rodenberg & O’Connor with an extensive family law practice, and a part-time Assistant Brown County Attorney.

Judge Rodenberg was appointed to the Minnesota Judicial Council by Kathleen Blatz, and served from 2005 – 2011. He also is a former member of the Minnesota Children’s Justice Initiative and was a member of the Minnesota Drug Court Initiative. In 2010, Judge Rodenberg received the Rosalie E. Wahl Judicial Award of Excellence from the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Judge Rodenberg received a B.A. from Saint Olaf College in 1978 and a J.D. from Hamline University in 1981.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout Session 1

8:35 - 9:35 am

Topic 1: Representing Non-U.S. Citizen Clients: How to Connect Recognizing Cultural Difference, Immigration Basics and Common Legal Situations^

Presenters: Mark Karon & Chelsea Flaherty, University of Minnesota Student Legal Services

This session will provide a primer on immigration issues and understanding Visas, collateral consequences of work and other legal situations.

Topic 2: Employment Law: Severance Agreements and Law Connected to It

Presenter: Beth Bertelson, Bertelson Law Offices P.A.

This session will focus on severance agreements and the laws connected to it. The session will also discuss issues surrounding performance and termination, as well as age and disability discrimination.

Topic 3: Laying the Foundation for Successful Litigation: How Instrumental Paralegals are in High Volume Criminal Defense Work

Presenter: Angela Bailey, Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office

Paralegals are instrumental in litigating complex cases and managing high volumes of electronic and paper discovery.  In this session, Ms. Bailey will discuss how paralegals assist her with organizing files for optimal accessibility in court, trial preparation, witness coordination, expert witness consultations, Power Point presentations, and expungements of criminal records.

Topic 4: Everyday Ethics Challenges for Paralegals in the Modern Legal World*^

George Soule, Soule & Stull, LLC

In the ever-changing legal world, it is crucial for paralegals to understand the ethical challenges that they must face and how to overcome them. Mr. Soule will highlight the do's and don'ts of ethics for paralegals.


Breakout Session 2

9:55 - 10:55 AM

Topic 5: Client Interviews: Best Practices and How to Avoid the Awkwardness of Interviews Gone Wrong?*^

Presenter: Kelly Rodgers, Hamline University

In this session we will discuss best client interview strategies in order to avoid the horrendous and potentially damaging interviews that can and do happen. In addition, we will examine how bias, cross cultural differences and language barriers can all affect an interview.

Topic 6: Mental Health In The Workplace: Five Things You Can Do

Presenter: Sue Abderholden, NAMI

Participants will learn how to promote good mental health (including dealing with stress), the common symptoms of mental illnesses, how attitudes and language impact people with mental illnesses, and accommodations for a mental illness in the workplace.

Topic 7: How to Survive the Discovery e-pocalypse

Presenter: Brad Bailey, Cicayda

A grass-roots education of what eDiscovery is. Where It Comes from. Why it is so prevalent in today’s eWorld.  Covering all stages of the EDRM and analysis of critical points within each with emphasis of best practices thereof. In depth discussion of metadata and why processing natives and utilizing meta data can save huge time and cost in future review and production.

Topic 8: Work of Innocence Projects and Causes of Wrongful Convictions

Presenter: Julie Jonas, Innocence Project of Minnesota

The presentation will focus on the work done by the Innocence Project of MN in local exonerations as well as the work of the Innocence Project nationally on DNA exonerations. From those DNA exonerations, we have determined some of the common causes of wrongful convictions, and through further review of work done by social scientists, suggest some remedies to prevent wrongful convictions from occurring in the future.

Breakout Session 3

11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Topic 9: Social Engineering

Presenter: John Harmon, FRSecure

Data breach revelations are commonplace in news headlines and social media today. To understand why these breaches have become a societal norm, there must be an awareness of the fundamental factor, in particular the human contribution. Social engineering, is by definition the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information that they would not normally share. Through the review of case studies and first-hand experience, learn how to recognize and raise a red flag. In this discussion, FRSecure will outline just how a social engineer can capitalize on “human error”.

Topic 10: Business Licensing Part 2: State Specific Requirements for Minnesota

Presenter: Brian Johnson - RASi

Business Licensing part 2 - This session will cover Minnesota state-specific requirements for obtaining various pharmacy licenses and contractor licenses in Minnesota.

Topic 11: Ethics in Today’s Legal World*

Presenters: Amanda R. Crain & Blaine L.M. Balow, Heimerl & Lammers

In this session we will discuss ethics in our ever changing society.  With more than enough conflict in the world, we will discuss best practices including professionalism.  We will discuss how important ethics are in this scandal-ridden society.

Topic 12: The Paralegal Landscape^

Presenter: Andrew McNaughton, Robert Half

The world is changing and the legal profession is no different. While mahogany desks and the phrase ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ are still acutely present across the legal landscape, at some point, soon, they won’t be.  As Paralegals, you need to be ready for these changes.  Building your Technology and People Skills are vital to make sure you stand out from the crowd.  Join Andrew McNaughtan, Direct-Hire/Permanent Placement Recruiting Manager at Robert Half Legal, to discuss how you can be the most indispensable Paralegal in this changing world.

Breakout Session 4

2:05 - 3:05 pm

Topic 13:  LBGTQ Inclusivity in the Workplace* 

Presenter: Eva Woods, Outfront Minnesota

This presentation is designed to provide a thorough overview of LGBTQ identities, language and theory. The differences between physical sex, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation with be discussed, and attendees will have a chance to ask questions, and discuss ways to bring more LGBTQ inclusion into their workplaces

Topic 14: Risk Management & Marketing Constraints for the Cannabis Industry

Presenter: Andre Thom, Leafline Labs, LLC

Manufacturers of cannabis face an inherent risk of violating federal law while still complying with state law. According to existing federal law, anyone involved in the possession, production, growing or the sale of marijuana is subject to federal prosecution by the U.S. Government under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. Minnesota Statute 152.25 Subdivision 1 requires the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health to register two in-state manufacturers for the production of all medical cannabis within the state. A cannabis manufacturer’s violation of M.S. 152.33, Subdivisions 1 and 6, may result in both criminal sanctions and monetary fines. This section will explore how cannabis manufacturer’s comply with regulations to avoid violating the law. Minnesota Administrative Rules 4770.0800 govern what and how registered cannabis manufacturers in Minnesota market their business and products. This section of the presentation will explain the methods in which manufacturers in Minnesota are able to effectively advertise cannabis in compliance with applicable regulations.

Topic 15: DWI’s in Minnesota: What Every Paralegal Should Know^

Presenter: Christina Zauhar, Halberg Defense

Ms. Zauhar will discuss the legal implications and practical realities of DWI's from the initial traffic stop through the end of the criminal and Implied Consent court processes. Analyzing DWI cases is a complicated task which requires knowledge of Terry stops, standardized field sobriety testing, the limited right to attorney prior to a test being given, breath test accuracy, and the Implied Consent law. This presentation will include examples of DWI arrests and answer your questions regarding what actually happens when someone is arrested for a DWI. 

* Ethics – 1 CLE Ethics credit applied for from NFPA.

^ All Level  – Topics with this designation are appropriate for paralegals at any level of experience, including students. 

Other Important Information

Course Materials:

Materials for all presentations will be provided online. If you wish to follow along as the presentation is taking place, please be sure to bring your laptop to the conference. Printed materials will not be provided the day of the convention.

CLE Credits:

MPA has applied for CLE credits through NFPA® for each breakout session. CLE certificates will be emailed to each person requesting a CLE certificate. Sessions qualifying for Ethics credit are designated in the topic description.


If you require special accommodations in order to attend, please contact us at least two weeks prior to the event at (651)633-2778 or

Campus info:

Please visit for information on parking, directions, and campus maps.

Parking: Parking on campus is free. See for a campus map and location for parking.

Registration Deadline:

Registration, along with full payment, must be received no later than May 5, 2017, by 4:00 p.m. Visit to register and pay. 

Please contact or call 651-633-2778 with any questions!

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