Merchant & Gould is pleased to announce that Heather J. Kliebenstein, a Minneapolis shareholder who joined in 2004, has been named Managing Director of Merchant & Gould’s seven offices, effective Jan. 30, 2023. She joins Tracey R. Skjeveland, the firm’s COO and CFO, and leads a three-person Executive Committee.
Heather will remain client focused, while Tracey manages day-to-day operations. Heather and the Executive Committee will steer the firm and provide direction for long-range planning and growth.
Heather is the firm’s first female Managing Director in its 123-year-old history, reflecting Merchant & Gould’s vision for the future and reaffirming the firm’s ongoing commitment to its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The Heather-Tracey duo is focused on a more modern and collaborative approach to leadership.
“Our industry is ready to increase the role of women in leadership -- supporting the unique perspective and diversity of thinking for our clients, industry, and community. Inclusion and innovation are at the core of Merchant & Gould’s principles and culture, and these values have never been more important,” said Heather.
As an IP litigator with a technical background, Heather represents her clients in court and counsels those clients regarding intellectual property portfolio strategy. She specializes in trademark, trade dress, copyright, advertising, unfair competition, breach of contract, patent, design patent and trade secret litigation, particularly cases that intertwine multiple intellectual properties, contracts and other federal or state claims. Heather is the former chair of Merchant & Gould’s Litigation Practice.
Tracey joined Merchant & Gould in 1999 as a financial analyst. In 2006, she was named CFO. In 2014, Tracey was named the firm’s COO. Throughout her career at Merchant & Gould, Tracey has demonstrated effective, sound leadership and has been a mentor to many.
“We are becoming more process oriented and streamlined to allow us to grow our technology and innovation focus. More than ever, it has become abundantly clear that our platform is highly desirable in the IP legal market,” said Tracey.
Along with Merchant & Gould’s Executive Committee and almost 100 attorneys, Heather and Tracey are working together to find important solutions for their clients, the firm, and the industry.