The Walker’s Women with Vision international film festival recognizes the unique contributions and perspectives women bring to the art of filmmaking. It also provides a showcase for their remarkable and poignant stories and documentaries. Films featured this year explore issues that often pertain to vulnerable populations in a variety of countries and cultures. Among these is Older Than America, which looks back at the strategy in this country and Canada of assimilating Native American children into European/ American culture through forced boarding school attendance; Madonnas, a look at the trials faced by single mothers; and It Happened Just Before, real stories of women victimized by human trafficking.
As a firm committed to women’s success, in addition to its long tradition of pro bono representation and service to the community, Faegre & Benson LLP saw a natural fit when presented with the opportunity to sponsor this program. Women with Vision and Girls in the Director’s Chair—a segment of the festival focused on filmmakers ages 8 to 18—gives talented women a vehicle with which they can influence others through their work. When it comes to the legal profession, Faegre & Benson also believes in empowering women to lead and influence.
With a ratio of women associates and partners exceeding national averages for large law firms, the firm is undertaking a variety of initiatives to recognize and cultivate leadership among the ranks of female lawyers. “We’re proud of the leadership roles women currently play in our organization—and we continue to strive for additional progress in this area,” says Tom Morgan, chair of the firm’s management committee. The firm is also proud of its record on pro bono service, charitable giving, and making a difference in communities in which its employees live and work. “In the legal profession, we can be advocates for people who don’t have a lot of resources,” says Morgan. “Our pro bono representation of children, displaced people, and those of limited means is among the most gratifying work we do.”
Faegre & Benson’s efforts in the area of human and civil rights include the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Pro Bono Diaspora Project, an initiative that involves collecting statements from Liberian refugees to document human rights violations suffered during a brutal 26-year civil conflict. Additional activities in this area include individual asylum, refugee and immigration cases, and death penalty appeals. Other pro bono initiatives include providing representation to meet legal needs of abused, neglected, and undocumented children. The firm operates a weekly legal clinic at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, which serves Native women and their families. Volunteers also provide legal support for persons of limited means in the areas of family law, housing advocacy and consumer law.
The firm’s charitable foundation supports more than 100 not-for-profit organizations, including United Way, Volunteer Lawyers Network, and many others in Minnesota, Colorado, and Iowa. Cultural institutions such as the Walker Art Center are also an important component of the firm’s giving program. Utilizing firm-subsidized time, Faegre & Benson employees participate in a range of community-service activities, including volunteering with Minneapolis Business Partners mentoring program, Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, and Lincoln International High School and Adult Education Center.
Based in Minneapolis—with offices in Iowa and Colorado as well as Europe and Asia—Faegre & Benson provides sophisticated legal counsel to clients ranging from emerging enterprises to multinational companies. Its more than 540 lawyers are experienced in handling complex litigation, corporate, real estate, intellectual property, employment, and other types of matters for businesses operating worldwide. As a firm that believes leading in the community is as important as leading in the law, Faegre & Benson is proud to support the 2008 Women with Vision International Film Festival. “The support of Faegre & Benson helps us create a unique cinema experience,” says Walker film/ video curator Sheryl Mousley. “This annual festival creates a cinema experience in which women storytellers bring us their vision from a global perspective, and it also celebrates youthful points of view from the next generation of filmmakers.”