When faced with circumstances that could forever limit your livelihood or freedom, knowledgeable and reliable legal counsel is a must. The attorneys at Villaume & Schiek, P.A. bring decades of combined experience to resolving high-stakes matters both inside and outside of the courtroom. Delivering preeminent representation in an array of related practice areas spanning criminal defense, employment law, professional licensure matters, discrimination and retaliation matters, arbitration, appellate matters and social security disability claims, they provide clients with comprehensive solutions to complex problems.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Reputation is like fine china; Once broken, it’s very hard to repair.”
Following a negative allegation or event, an individual’s good name may never be fully restored. Understanding what is at risk for people who have been accused of wrongdoing in their professional environment or elsewhere, attorneys Philip G. Villaume, Jeffrey Schiek and their associates act swiftly and decisively to achieve the best possible outcome and help their clients move on with their lives and careers. From their offices in Bloomington, they represent clients across the state and across industries, including doctors, attorneys, educators, and victims of discrimination, retaliation and harassment.”
“Our practice areas represent all of the areas of risk that many people face during employment, criminal or civil litigation,” Villaume says. “We advise them from the outset about their legal needs in all of these areas.”
In a reputation business, these attorneys have set the highest bar for ethics and legal excellence. Villaume is a nationally recognized authority on employment law, criminal law and procedure, and professional ethics, with a practice focused on criminal defense and employment law, representing professionals facing employment-related misconduct allegations. He also represents victims of workplace abuse and harassment. During his 40-plus years as a trial lawyer, Villaume has achieved resolution for more than 1,000 professionals. He is a dedicated industry educator, the author of numerous legal publications and is highly sought as an expert in legal malpractice cases.
Schiek came to the firm as a law clerk more than 20 years ago, was hired as an attorney and became a partner in 2003. In his criminal defense and employment law practice, he represents professionals facing employment-related misconduct allegations as well as victims of workplace abuse and harassment. He has represented numerous cases before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Minnesota. Like Villaume, he is an ardent educator who has contributed to nationwide workshops on topics relating to criminal law and procedure; diversity in education, the community and the workplace; and the prevention of workplace violence and harassment.
In 2021, Villaume & Schiek was recognized as a Best Law Firm by the American Institute of Trial Lawyers. Both attorneys note that their success as individuals and as a firm is made possible by their staff, whose valuable contributions make it possible to resolve matters in an efficient and satisfactory manner.
Villaume and Schiek work collaboratively to vet potential clients, and once they accept a case, they work diligently to get the best result for the client. Villaume says, “When Jeff and I meet with clients, the two of us assess and evaluate the case, not just one of us. We want to make sure we are in agreement that the claim is meritorious. Our skill level is virtually identical, and most often we render the same opinion as to the validity of a claim. It is a unique characteristic of our firm. We have worked quite well together as a team over the years, and the advantage to our clients is that we get good results for them.”
“Our initial consultation is free,” Schiek adds. “We talk to clients when they call, and if we think it’s urgent or we can help, we have them come in so we can sit down and talk about it. We’ll give our honest opinion and be upfront with you — there’s no upside to saying a case is phenomenal if it isn’t. We set realistic expectations at the outset so our clients can understand what is attainable.”
There are no shortcuts, and a combination of thorough appraisal and rigorous discovery are often key to winning at trial or resolving a matter outside of court. “Each case is different,” Schiek says. “Some have a lot of public information, and some, very little. We’ve even had cases where the city of Minneapolis acted inappropriately and caused damage to our client, and we have found critical evidence and potential witnesses through social media. There are some social justice clubs specifically outlined to do that. This is the kind of analysis we do as a firm.”
Compassion is another key element of Villaume and Schiek’s approach. “In just about every case, when a professional comes in and wants us to represent them, they are primarily concerned about what will happen to their career and license going forward,” Villaume says. “Lawyers who do this kind of defense need to know they have to be very zealous, and most importantly, they need to show compassion and sensitivity toward the professionals they represent. And they need to know not just the procedure, but also the ethics of the area of law they are dealing with.”
In recent years, Villaume and Schiek have taken on more complex civil litigation cases in Minnesota and Wisconsin (where Villaume is a member of the Bar), as well as a greater number of professional ethics cases. Social unrest following the death of George Floyd and others has also presented the firm with pressing calls to justice. In true David versus Goliath fashion, this small firm is unafraid to stand against the largest entities to right wrongs.
“We are currently representing a young woman who was shot in the face with a rubber bullet during the riots relating to George Floyd,” Villaume says. “She was just an innocent bystander standing away from the activity and was shot by a police officer. She had substantial damage to her face, which has required extensive surgery. It has had a strong impact on her and her mother, and we are pursuing the matter aggressively. We hope to resolve it soon. There aren’t too many lawyers who will bring litigation against a government agency, but it doesn’t matter to us who the perpetrators are.”
“George Floyd’s death has changed the public view of discrimination, and more people are understanding how subtle it can be,” Schiek says. “For the first time in my practice, I am seeing a shift in the Minnesota courts in favor of employees in discrimination cases.”
“After the Floyd matter, people are much more willing to come forward and get legal help where discrimination is involved,” Villaume adds. “We have clients of all ages impacted by that matter who are coming forward to speak out. It has affected our practice dramatically, especially in representing diverse groups.”
Schiek is currently awaiting a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court regarding an age discrimination case brought by his client against St. Paul Public Schools.
As compassionate counselors and keen advocates in highly charged matters, Villaume and Schiek remain mindful of their own well-being. “The work we do is difficult,” Villaume says. “At the same time, we have to take care of ourselves. I think we both do a really good job of that.”
“For me, I have over 40 years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol on June 8 of last year,” Villaume continues. “I’m very active in the recovery community through AA. When people disclose that they have a drug or alcohol problem, I tell them right away that I struggled with that and am willing to help in that area in any way I can. I’m a member of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, an advocacy group for lawyers who struggle with addiction. They provide great service to lawyers with addiction or mental illness. Some of the professionals who come to us are dealing with drugs, alcohol or mental illness. We are sensitive to that, and in defense cases, it may be an issue. We deal with it ethically.”
These attorneys also derive positive energy from community service, dedicating many hours to community work. Both are voices against school violence and youth suicide. Villaume has dedicated many hours to teaching seminars to educators and other professionals.
Villaume and Schiek deliver the highest level of legal advocacy with elevated regard for professional ethics and the welfare of their clients. “Often, when people come to us initially, their position is that they want to be heard,” Villaume says. “Bottom line is we are diligent, careful and provide strong advocacy throughout the legal process.”
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