Toni L. Halleen
Owner and COO
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Client Service Philosophy
“It’s all about listening and problem-solving. I try to understand where the client is coming from, what he/she is trying to achieve, and then help identify possible solutions. When we work together to combine our creative ideas and maximize our talents, we can usually emerge with a better solution.”
Toni L Halleen is the co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of Schaefer Halleen, a position she has held since 2013.
Toni has practiced employment law since graduating from law school in 1988. The field appeals to her because in our society, our jobs can be core to our identity and well-being. Even in her early years in the 70s and 80s, Toni remembers being drawn to ideals of justice, fairness, and social equality in attending anti-discrimination marches, participating in school activism, and admiring the political satire of the Smothers Brothers (and others).
Ms. Halleen began her legal career as an attorney with Briggs and Morgan law firm, where she practiced employment law for many years both in litigation and in advising clients. When she started a family, Toni moved to an in-house position at ADC Telecommunications in Eden Prairie. As Director of Employment Law for ADC, Toni worked with leaders and managers across the company (and around the world) to shape employment policies and decisions affecting thousands of workers in the telecom industry. The creativity and collaboration of the corporate environment invigorated Toni and allowed her to develop keen business insight and cross-departmental skills.
At the same time, Toni was honing her skills in her avocation, which was inspired by the Smothers Brothers: comedy/music/writing. Toni studied, performed and taught improv classes in Minneapolis, which training later served as the basis for her Fun with Law business and the professional skills course she developed and delivered to hundreds of professionals called “Think on the Spot.”
Toni also learned to play guitar and wrote several songs about law and politics, performing some of them on TV’s Almanac and at private law-related and HR functions. Toni’s full-length musical, “Soulless, Bloodsucking Lawyers” played to sold-out audiences and won “Best Musical” at the Minneapolis Fringe Festival.
Toni decided to leave ADC in 2002 in order to join The General Counsel Ltd., which allowed her to freelance as an in-house employment attorney for a number of different companies, while also developing her Fun with Law business and delivering “Think on the Spot” workshops across the country and in Canada. Toni is a national speaker at conferences and professional meetings on communication topics, as well as employment law topics, and she has been an adjunct professor for many years at William Mitchell School of Law (now Mitchell Hamline).
Ms. Halleen’s career path has affected her approach to working with clients by enriching her perspective on employment law (seeing both defense and plaintiff perspectives) as well as establishing in her a deep understanding of creative problem solving. Toni’s client service skills and her appreciation for connecting with others been enhanced by working with hundreds of employees and professionals in a range of functions and in a variety of organizations. Through her teaching, Toni has interacted with many different communication styles, implemented deep listening strategies and utilized non-verbal communication tools.
- Juris Doctorate Degree, cum laude, University of Minnesota Law School, 1988
- Mini-MBA, Creative Problem Solving, University of St Thomas, 2000
- Bachelor of Arts, Mount Holyoke College, 1984
World Press Institute
Toni volunteers every summer/fall with the World Press Institute (“WPI”). WPI is a non-profit organization that awards fellowships to 10 outstanding journalists from around the world. WPI fellows come to the U.S. for an in-depth exploration of journalism that includes travel and meetings with some of the country’s leading media outlets, editors, academics, business leaders and other journalists.
For several years, Toni has participated in the 24-Hour Play Project (a/k/a Xtreme Theatre Smackdown) by writing plays for Theatre Unbound, which are performed at their annual fundraiser, as well as plays for other Theatre Unbound projects and events. Theatre Unbound is a non-profit theater organization that delivers thought-provoking live theatre written and performed by women, designed to engage audiences and improve the lives of women and girls.
- Member, Minnesota State Bar Association
- Member, Hennepin County Bar Association
- Past Member, Ramsey County Bar Association
- Past Member, Minnesota Women Lawyers
- Past Member, Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- Loft Mentor Program, 2013
- The Loft, Minneapolis, MN, August 2013
- Was awarded a spot in the Loft Mentor Series for 2013, after having been a finalist and an Honorable Mention candidate in 2012
- The Loft Mentor Series in Poetry and Creative Prose offers twelve emerging Minnesota writers the opportunity to work intensively with six nationally acclaimed writers of prose and poetry. Selected participants work throughout the year with the six mentors, and all participants and mentors give public readings at the loft.
- Best Musical and Top Selling Show, The Minnesota Fringe Festival
- The Minnesota Fringe Festival, 2003.
- Wrote and produced, “Soulless Bloodsucking Lawyers: A Musical.”
Presentations and Work in Entertainment
Think on the Spot ® Workshop – Presented over 100 seminars across the country as well as a few in Canada and one in Prague. Her seminars focus on presentation skills, communication and listening skills, as well as on substantive employment law subjects.
Professional Education – Taught at Minnesota CLE, William Mitchell College of Law, The University of Minnesota Law School, and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. In addition, Toni has taught CPAs, engineers, insurance adjusters, human resources departments, marketing professionals, law students, and lawyers at every level and in every capacity (corporate, private practice, government).
Management Training – Trained thousands of managers on discipline & discharge, managing employees, dealing with leaves and disabilities at work, wage and hour compliance, codes of conduct, compliance, workplace policies, and prevention of harassment.
Community Presentations – Presented a keynote workshop, “Say Yes to Diversity: What Improv Comedy Can Teach Us About Embracing the ‘Big Tent’,” at the Minnesota Women Lawyers Conference on April 27, 2018. Toni will participate on a panel at the LPGA Leadership Academy on June 13, 2018.
Original Songwriter – Wrote and performed original songs about public affairs and current events on TV (the PBS affiliate here in MSP), and produced 2 CDs of music about lawyers and the law.
Playwright – Wrote and produced plays about families and lawyers and games shows for the Minnesota Fringe Festival and Theatre Unbound. Toni’s original musical, “Soulless Bloodsucking Lawyers,” was voted Best Musical and also was the top selling show of the 2003 Fringe Festival. “Church Bus” was selected for the Best Of Series by Theatre Unbound in 2008.
Performer – Had a steady and successful career in the 1980s and 1990s doing standup and improvisational comedy in a variety of comedy clubs in the Twin Cities. More recently, Toni has performed comedy music at private gatherings for crowds of lawyers and human resources professionals.
Author – Currently writing a novel and several short stories. Was recently awarded a spot in the Loft Mentor Series for 2013, after having been a finalist and an Honorable Mention candidate in 2012.