Mindy H. Chapman, Esq. (1957-2015)
Mindy H. Chapman founded Mindy Chapman & Associates LLC in 2006. Rachel Handler’s November 19, 2015 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article “Clicks and Sticks her mark, Chapman one of a kind” so wonderfully captures Mindy’s life, that we reprint it here. She continues to inspire
Mindy H. Chapman was a practicing attorney, published author, columnist, speaker and nationally recognized authority on workplace and employment law matters. Those who knew and loved her will remember most her intelligence, sensitivity, bravery and sparkling wit.
Chapman, 58, died on Oct. 28 after a 16-month battle with grade IV glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. She is survived by her husband of 36 years, Richard H. Chapman, a member at Clark, Hill PLC; a daughter, Emily Chapman Marks; and a son, Daniel Chapman.
Chapman’s career was as varied as it was remarkable. After receiving her master’s degree in social work with honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1981, Chapman served dialysis patients as a renal social worker.
Her patients adored her — she was self-effacing, magnetic and wildly funny — and soon, Baxter Healthcare retained her to present seminars to nephrology nurses at their professional meetings, teaching them how to relate to their patients with candor and warmth.
“She was an incredibly devoted, creative and thoroughly amazing mother and wife,” said her husband, who, along with their daughter and son, supported Chapman when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an attorney by enrolling at Northwestern University Law School in 1991.
During her years at Northwestern, Chapman was a published member and coordinating note and comment editor of Northwestern’s Journal of International Law and Business, and she was awarded the Lowden-Wigmore Prize for Legal Scholarship. When she received her law degree in 1995, her young children joined her at the ceremony—graduation caps on their heads.
Chapman — who always looked out for the underdog — focused her law practice on representing victims of catastrophic injury and professional malpractice. She began her practice with the firm now known as Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. and continued with the predecessor firm to Seidman, Margulis & Fairman LLP as well as Much Shelist P.C.
As her law career progressed, Chapman grew exceedingly interested in employment law and workplace training and ultimately became a partner at both the former Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal LLP and Seyfarth Shaw LLP.
While at the latter firm, she developed and delivered clever one-of-a-kind workplace training sessions to employees ranging from those on the shop floor to those in the executive suite. During this time she also co-wrote a best-selling authoritative compliance books published by the American Bar Association, “Case Dismissed! Taking Your Harassment Prevention Training to Trial.”
In 2006, she forged out on her own, forming Mindy Chapman & Associates LLC, where she created the internationally acclaimed “Workplace Training That Clicks & Sticks.”
Like Chapman herself, the training sessions were fun and offbeat — she distilled complex legal concepts into easy-to-digest and memorable working principles framed by her humor and creativity, helping organizations large and small avoid liability, minimize risk and create a culture of respect and retention of talent.
Chapman was fiercely loyal to the human-resources profession, both as a writer and speaker. In 2007, she launched her national employment law blog, Case In Point, published by Business Management Daily. With her signature sense of humor and authoritative voice, Chapman reported on critical federal and state equal employment opportunity cases, helping HR professionals avoid land mines of personal and professional liability.
As her expertise grew, so did her audience: For more than 10 years, Chapman was a speaker at regional and annual meetings of the Society for Human Resource Management, an international organization of 275,000 human resource professionals. Though the raw material Chapman was tasked with translating could skew a bit dry, she kept her teaching high-energy and entertaining.
Among her memorable presentation titles were: “24-7-365: When Aren’t You HR? Managing Liability Through Managers, Supervisors and Executives” and “The Ultimate EEO Booster Shot: Cases. Trends. Impact.” As such, the society’s consistently ranked Chapman as a top 10 speaker.
“Mindy was a lovely person, a great speaker and huge supporter of everything HR professionals stood for,” said Letty Klutz, the society’s director of conference programming and development. “She will be sorely missed.”
As outspoken and sharp in her personal life as she was in her professional life, Chapman couldn’t help but stand out everywhere she went. She made a lasting impression on everyone, whether listening to her simplify a labyrinthine legal concept or hiring her as a trainer, attorney or facilitator.
“Absolutely no one did it like Mindy,” said Michael J. Ranallo, vice president, general counsel and secretary of Bridgestone Retail Operations LLC.
Mindy’s methodologies, Ranallo said, were “highly effective, comprehensive, engaging and, most impressively, totally entertaining,” while her “energy and passion for her work drove her to perform at a level unparalleled in her field.”
Ranallo’s Bridgestone colleague, Naomi F. Katz, remembered that “the attendees hardly even realized they were learning, and none of them will ever forget her.”
“Mindy was not just our trainer, she’s family, and she is irreplaceable,” Katz said.
Among Chapman’s many gifts was the ability to relate authentically and immediately to all of her clients. “I appreciated that Mindy was able to talk with us as a partner — not giving us instructions or to‑dos,” said Kelly Carberry, the compensation and benefits coordinator of Turtle Wax Inc. “She wanted to ensure that we felt comfortable and understood the whys and risks.”
Richard Kerman, president of Steiner Electric Company., similarly noted that Chapman “had the gift of blending the practical and emotional aspects of our culture with the law and the reality of the risk.”
Gerald Kral, who was director of AIG’s legal department when he asked Mindy to facilitate a lengthy strategy retreat for AIG attorneys, recalled, “Through her teaching and facilitation methods and stature as an accomplished attorney, she won over the attorneys’ hearts and minds.”
Linda Phillips, the vice president of human resources of AbelsonTaylor, brought Chapman to train hundreds of employees and managers over nearly a decade.
“When I introduced Mindy and her incredible training program to AbelsonTaylor, she literally transformed our culture, and employees began to converse in what came to be known as ‘Mindy Speak,’” said Phillips said. Mindy’s energy, brilliance, humor and aliveness made her completely unforgettable.”