Freeborn & Peters LLP’s Women's Leadership Council (WLC) was established in 2007 to provide professional development, marketing support, networking opportunities and mentoring to our female associates and partners. 

The Women’s Leadership Council (“WLC”) promotes the development and advancement of our women attorneys, advocates the marketing efforts of our women attorneys, and focuses on the recruitment and retention of women attorneys.

The WLC aims to support women at Freeborn through: 

  • Connections to other women attorneys, internally and externally, through events, panels, and seminars
  • Sponsorship and mentorship that advance women in their careers
  • Recruiting and retention of female attorneys  
  • Support of marketing and networking efforts 
  • Resources aimed at developing our women attorneys into leaders within the firm and the legal community

 To achieve these goals, the WLC has formed committees focused on issues relating to public relations and marketing, attorney integration and mentoring, social activities, and professional development:

  • Steering Committee - The Steering Committee will assist with executing and guiding our strategic initiatives to promote the WLC's attorney mentorship, marketing efforts, attorney recruiting and retention, and more. The committee is chaired by partner Erin McAdams Franzblau and made up of firm partners Shelly DeRousse, Katheleen EhrhartJennifer Huelskamp, and Meghan Tepas.
  • Public Relations and Marketing – The Marketing Committee of the WLC presents women attorneys with opportunities to expand and strengthen their personal and professional networks beyond the firm. Our semi-annual events welcome women clients and friends of the firm to join us for gatherings including presentations by women entrepreneurs, wellness events, and more, which promote the development of relationships with other professional women. Due to COVID-19, these events have shifted to a virtual format, including a virtual escape room and meditation classes. Additional virtual events will take place throughout 2021.
  • Attorney Integration and Mentoring – As Freeborn continues to grow across all of its offices, it is even more important that the women work to ensure that its members are fully integrated within the WLC, the firm, and its practice groups.  The Integration and Mentoring committee works to do exactly that to provide visibility, collaboration and support to and among each office and WLC member.
  • Social – Freeborn’s women attorneys work within all Practice Groups of the firm. The Social Committee of the WLC recognizes that working together is not necessarily the same as spending quality time together, and therefore provides women attorneys with planned social events in order to facilitate relationships outside of work.   
  • Professional Development – Freeborn appreciates that women attorneys face a variety of unique challenges. The Professional Development Committee of the WLC works in tandem with the Management Committee, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and Practice Group Leaders to embrace these diverse perspectives while encouraging, mentoring and advancing women associates and partners within the firm. The firm currently has four women Practice Group Leaders and strives for continued inclusion of women in leadership roles.

These WLC initiatives have dynamically advanced the professional development of women practicing at Freeborn – successfully enhancing their careers and sculpting their skills to become leaders both in the legal industry as well as role models within the community. The Council is run by elected Co-Chairs that serve a two-year term. Partners Kathryn Lundy and Verona ("Missy") Sandberg were elected in September 2022.

Meet the WLC

Missy Sandberg, Partner

Litigation | Antitrust

What is the most memorable/interesting matter in your career?  The first litigation matter on which I was staffed as a first-year associate was a large antitrust matter involving Section 1 of the Sherman Act.  We represented a Canadian mining company in a nationwide class action, in which the plaintiffs were seeking $500 million in damages.  Due to the breadth and complexity of the claims, the case was still ongoing as I progressed through my legal career, making partner in 2011.  How many attorneys can say they worked on a case both as a first-year associate and as a partner?! Ultimately, we prevailed and the ruling was upheld in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.  It would be hard to imagine any other case that could have been more influential in my development as an attorney.  I was able to participate in all stages of litigation and worked with some of the finest attorneys in my career on that case.  As grueling as it was at times, I am grateful for everything that I learned.

What is your favorite type of matter to work on? I have been at Freeborn since I graduated from law school.  Although I began at the firm as an associate in the corporate group, for most of my career, I have been a litigator. One experience that I particularly enjoyed was in 2018 when I was seconded by Freeborn to a global restaurant company.  For 12 weeks, I filled in for an in-house attorney at the company that was on an extended leave.  The experience provided me with invaluable insight into the “mind of a client.”  It is always useful to appreciate the way that a client views litigation and how that perspective may differ from their outside attorney’s.  Understanding the company’s business objectives when it comes to litigation is so important and without a deep understanding of what motivates a client, you cannot know how to define a successful outcome.

What advice would you give a woman interested in the legal profession or starting out in her career as an attorney? When I look back over my career, I think that I really held myself back. I think that I would remind a young, female associate, “If not you, then who?”  Young attorneys, and particularly young, female attorneys, tend to underestimate themselves and what they are capable of. They often sell themselves short and hold themselves back.  I look back on the chances I didn’t take and wonder, why not? Be confident.  Be curious.  Take chances.  Be deliberate and be in control of your career development.

What type of clients do you work with? Commercial litigators tend to be generalists and my career has been no exception.  I would have it no other way.  I love working on a case for a new client and learning a new business and/or area of law.  Over the last few years, I have successfully defended multiple class actions for retail and insurance clients.  Those cases have afforded me the opportunity to take many depositions of class representatives, which I love.  I have also represented individual clients in estate litigation.  Corporate clients and individual clients are so different in terms of their motivations and definitions of success and I enjoy the opportunity to work with both types of clients.