Meet the Legal Practice Center Staff

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Jean Backes

Jean Backes

Jean initially came to William Mitchell as the legal secretary for students enrolled in client representation clinics, 1994-1999. Returning in 2005, Jean now administers the Clinical and Externship programs. Prior to coming to work at William Mitchell, Jean has worked with the Ramsey County Guardian ad Litem Office in the Juvenile and Family Justice Center in St. Paul. Jean received her Legal Office Administrator diploma from the Minnesota School of Business in Minneapolis, MN.

Darlene Finch

Darlene Finch

Darlene has been the Administrator of the WRAP program since 1998. She previously worked as a legal secretary, insurance agent, and in a child support office. Darlene has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a minor in Professional Writing from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Sue McKenzie

Sue McKenzie

Sue joined William Mitchell as the Advocacy Program Administrator in 2007.  Before coming to William Mitchell, she was employed as a litigation paralegal.

Sue earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Paralegal Studies from Winona State University.

Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller

Jennifer has been part of the Legal Practice Center for over 10 years. She administers the Legal Practicum: General Practice course, the Advanced Advocacy course, and the Mitchell in London program. Prior to coming to work at William Mitchell, Jennifer worked as an administrative assistant at a law firm, an acute medical center, and a television station. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Linda Thorstad

Linda Thorstad

Linda has been the Administrative Coordinator for the Business Practicum since it began Spring semester 2008. She  joined William Mitchell in 1996 as a Faculty Publication Specialist. In 1999, together with Professor John Sonsteng, she began co-authoring and developing Practicum Exercises for the Legal Practicum and Advanced Advocacy courses.  In 2005, with Sonsteng she co-developed and designed  the Legal Practicum: Business Practice course and co-authored the exercises and teaching materials. Previously, she was a newspaper advertising representative, small business owner, real estate broker, editorial assistant, Geography instructor and published author. Linda continues to be a free-lance writer. She has a B.S. in geography from St. Cloud State University, Minnesota; a M.S. in geography from Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington; and a Ph.D. in cultural geography and American history from Louisiana State University.

Melissa Wright

Melissa started in her position as the Externship Director in 2012.  She previously served as the assistant director of the Office of Career & Professional Development.  Prior to joining Mitchell, Melissa worked in both the private and public sectors as senior counsel for Wells Fargo & Company and assistant attorney general at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.  Melissa is involved in various bar activities, including:  Co-chair of Minnesota Women Lawyers With Equal Right subcommittee, member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc.-MN Chapter, MSBA (alternate for Mitchell on the Assembly) and a pro bono attorney for the Volunteer Lawyers Network.

Melissa teaches the Government Agency Externship course at Mitchell.  She obtained her J.D. at William Mitchell and her B.A. at St. Olaf College.