Shareholders Rebecca Heltzer and Melissa Houghtaling opened the doors of Heltzer & Houghtaling, P.A., on December 1, 2010, and were joined by attorney Jean M. Brandl this past February of this year. Between them, the three offer some fifty years of legal expertise and practice; Heltzer since 1989, Houghtaling since 2007, and Brandl since 1991.
Collectively, notes Heltzer, “We have a broad practice area providing practical advice to our clients. Melissa does primarily Family Law and Child Custody matters as well as adoptions, while I have a litigation practice with a niche in the dissolution of domestic partnerships, as well as commercial and real estate litigation matters. I also practice in the area of commercial and residential real estate transactions.”
“Jean,” Heltzer continues, “has been certified by the Minnesota bar association as a criminal law specialist and is an extraordinary and outstanding criminal defense attorney. She also practices in the area of professional licensing in regard to when the State tries to take away a person’s professional license—doctors, therapist, veterinarians, for example.” Brandl’s “launching” was somewhat delayed when, upon joining the firm in February, her time was immediately consumed by a federal criminal fraud trial that kept her out of the office until early March.
Family Mediation is just one valuable service that Heltzer & Houghtaling offers. In such a scenario, Houghtaling acts as a neutral party, trained in helping family members facilitate useful discussion and guiding parties to consider possible solutions and options. They address a given problem using brainstorming, experience, and attentive listening, while realistic solutions are proposed and considered. Mediation is also used in divorce, child custody and parenting time, cohabitation, or non-marital parenting concerns, probate, and same-sex couple issues. “We do much more,” adds Heltzer, “but there are only so many words in an article, eh?”
Each member’s strengths contribute to the whole—Brandl’s criminal expertise, for example. “She is well known and respected in the criminal defense bar,” says Heltzer, “and serves on the Federal Public Defender panel. Jean’s practice is related to professional licensing, and discipline adds to what we do.”
The firm is particularly sensitive to the needs of the “non-traditional” family and individuals. Both principles have deep roots in the GLBT Twin Cities community, and Heltzer and Houghtaling, in addition to their respective busy practices, have each made presentations to other Minnesota lawyers–live and on webcasts–on issues related to the creation and dissolution of same-sex domestic partnerships. In their “zealous and unrelenting advocacy for our community,” they present a face of the legal world to GLBT clients and a face of the GLBT world to other attorneys and the courts.
Heltzer & Houghtaling proudly sponsors Minnesota United for All Families, a broad coalition of organizations and community and business leaders seeking to defeat the amendment to limit the freedom to marry for committed couples in Minnesota. Regarding the importance of a NO vote on this amendment, Heltzer explained, “As LGBT lawyers and community members, we feel very strongly about fairness within our legal system. Denying loving couples the rights and privileges available to state-sanctioned marriage of heterosexual couples is simply unfair and contrary to what we believe are Minnesota values.”
“That is why we have wholeheartedly supported with our time and dollars Minnesota United for all Families as well as its constituent members. We fear that the hateful rhetoric that will rain down on us all in the Fall season—funded primarily by out-of-state sources—will only serve to divide friends, families, and co-workers which is not the Minnesota way. We have appreciated the trust and confidence our clients place in us and want to thank each of them for doing so.”
Heltzer & Houghtaling
413 N. Wacouta St., Suite 430
St. Paul, MN 55101