About Us

Heller & Thyen is a law firm focused on helping people navigate our complex legal system.

As an experienced and reputable law firm, we work hard to make sure our clients get the best possible outcome while keeping them informed every step of the way.

If the need arises, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our initial consultations are always free. Our law firm proudly serves the greater St. Cloud, MN area including Albany, Annandale, Baxter, Becker, Brainerd, Clearwater, Cold Spring, Foley, Kimball, Little Falls, Melrose, Monticello, Nisswa, Paynesville, Pillager, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, Waite Park, and other cities in the area.

Accessibility

We’re not the kind of law firm that only represents big name clients who can pay top-dollar legal rates. Our doors are open to anyone who needs our legal services and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to meet your needs. If your schedule necessitates that you meet during evenings or on weekends, we’re happy to adjust our own schedules to accommodate you.

Knowledge and Experience

Many larger law firms only put their full effort into the most billable clients, and set the average client up with inexperienced attorneys who can only answer the most basic questions. When you come to our law practice, you’ll meet with lawyers who are knowledgeable and experienced, allowing us to confidently predict the outcome of your case. If we don’t think your case is viable, we’ll tell you that upfront instead of wasting your time and money.

Personality

When our clients meet with us, we want them to feel comfortable. Our lawyers are friendly and down-to-earth so that our clients can be at ease as they converse with us. You’ll never have to worry about us lecturing you, judging you or spilling your secrets. We work with you and advocate with you through every stage of your legal proceedings. “You don’t seem like lawyers” is the best and the most common compliment that we receive.

Our Staff

Stephen L. Heller

Owner & President

Robert Thyen

Partner

Justin Braulick

Attorney

JR Spangler

Attorney

Alexander Michael Gutnik

Associate Attorney

Jessica Mikkelson

Attorney

Erin L. Kipka

Bankruptcy Paralegal

Jennifer K. Schweim

Family Law & Criminal Law Paralegal

Julie K. Kelly

Paralegal

Kathy M. Peterson

Paralegal

Shelbi Marklowitz

Paralegal

How We’re Different

Talking to lawyers can be an intimidating experience… but not at Heller & Thyen. We don’t lecture you or judge you, we get to know you so that we can use the right approach to address your legal situation. If you’re interested in retaining our legal services, we invite you to join us for a free consultation where you can ask any questions you have and come to understand what we can do for you.

Stephen L. Heller

Owner & President

Stephen has been practicing law since 1994. For the past 15 years he has practiced in the area of personal injury law, and has also practiced bankruptcy law since 1997. Stephen has a long record of success in helping injured people obtain the recovery they deserve after being injured as a result of the negligence of others. Stephen also gets deep satisfaction in helping people with financial difficulties be able to obtain a fresh start and transform their lives.

Education:
B.A. College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota 1990
J.D. William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN 1993

Professional Associations:

Minnesota Association of Justice
Minnesota State Bar Association
Stearns/Benton Bar Association
American Bankruptcy Institute
National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
John E. Simonett Inns of Court -Vice President

Bar Admissions:
California 1994
Minnesota 1994
United States District Court – District of Minnesota 1997

Honors & Distinctions:
Named a SuperLawyer by Minnesota Law & Politics Magazine

Robert Thyen

Partner

Robert is currently practicing in the areas of consumer and commercial bankruptcies representing debtors. He has been practicing law in St. Cloud since starting with Heller & Thyen in 2002. His initial practice included handling personal injury cases on behalf of the injured. He successfully litigated cases that the insurance companies were not willing to settle fairly.

Presently, Robert’s practice consists of representing debtors in consumer and commercial bankruptcies. He believes in taking the time to get to know his client and their situation. His background in alternative dispute resolution enables him to effectively and efficiently achieve favorable outcomes for his clients.

Education:
B.A. Saint Cloud State University, St Cloud, Minnesota, 1999
J.D. Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2002
Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution

Professional Associations:
Minnesota State Bar Association
Stearns/Benton Bar Association
Inns of Court

Bar Admissions:
Minnesota 2002
United States District Court 2004

Justin Braulick

Attorney

Justin Braulick is an experienced personal injury lawyer and criminal defense attorney. Mr. Braulick represents clients in the areas of criminal defense, family law and personal injury. Mr. Braulick fights for the best outcome by providing assertive, diligent and aggressive representation. You will receive the attention, respect, and compassion you deserve.

Justin is admitted to practice in Minnesota State Court as well as Federal United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Previously, Justin worked as a therapist with clients who struggled with sexual issues along with mental disorders.

Education:

The University of St. Thomas School of Law, J.D.
St. Cloud State University, M.S., B.S.

Professional Associations and Memberships:

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Minnesota Association for Justice
Minnesota State Bar Association
Stearns/Benton Bar Association
President of the John E. Simonett American Inn of Court

Areas of Expertise:

Personal Injury, Criminal Defense & Family Law

Read about Justin on Avvo

JR Spangler

Attorney

JR is an experienced family law & criminal defense attorney.

JR began practicing law in 1991 in California where he primarily handled personal injury and civil dispute matters. He moved to Minnesota in 2002 with his wife who is from St. Cloud. His practice expanded to include, and now emphasizes, Family Law and Criminal Defense.

JR believes it is important that different angles and viewpoints are considered when working to get quality results for the clients. He prides himself on working closely with clients to understand what is important for them and know that they would not be seeking help if they did not have an important problem to solve.

Education:

University of Colorado – Boulder (B.A. 1981)
University of San Diego School of Law (J.D. 1991)

Professional Associations and Memberships:

Minnesota State Bar Association
Stearns-Benton County Bar Association
Past Participant of John E. Simonett Chapter of American Inns of Court
Licensed to practice in California

Areas of Expertise:

Family Law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Contractual Disputes

Alexander M. Gutnik

Associate Attorney
Alexander is an experienced family law, employment law, criminal defense, and housing law attorney. In addition, he has successful results in the areas of unemployment insurance benefits, criminal expungements, and Department of Human Services and professional licensing boards. Alexander is accepting family law mediations to assist parties with a resolution prior to a final decision before a judge.
Prior to Heller & Thyen, P.A., Alexander was a Staff Attorney with Central Minnesota Legal Services. He provided quality legal services to a financially eligible population in Stearns County and eight other Minnesota counties. He has lived in St. Cloud since 2018 and is a rooted member of the community.
Alexander has an instant way with connecting with his clients. He offers an empathetic ear, has a firm command of the law, and provides an honest and objective evaluation to each case. Because of these qualities, Alexander collaboratively works with his clients, and his enthusiasm allows him to tell his clients story persuasively to achieve the best result.

Education:
University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD. Political Science, B.A.
Mitchell Hamline School of Law, St. Paul, MN. Juris Doctor

Professional Associations and Memberships:
Minnesota State Bar Association
Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Stearns Benton Bar Association, President
Volunteer Attorney Program, Attorney and Mediator
Tau Kappa Epsilon, Theta-Eta Chapter, Alumni

Bar Admission:
Minnesota (State and Federal Court)

Areas of Expertise:
Family Law, Employment Law, Criminal Law, Housing Law, and Professional Licensing Boards.

Jessica Mikkelson

Jessica Mikkelson is an experienced attorney who has tireless advocate for families for many years. Ms. Mikkelson represents clients in all areas of family law, from divorce, custody, parenting time, and child support to grandparents’ rights, third-party custody, and child protection. Ms. Mikkelson also represents landlords in eviction and other landlord-tenant matters and does criminal expungements.
Before joining Heller and Thyen, Ms. Mikkelson worked as an associate attorney at Toepfer at Law, a staff attorney at Central Minnesota Legal Services, and a staff attorney at Homeline, a tenant defense, and advocacy organization. This work has given Ms. Mikkelson a deep understanding of the various challenges confronting families and individuals at different points in their lives.
Ms. Mikkelson recognizes that every family and situation is unique and requires individualized attention and care. Rather than offer one-size-fits-all legal advice, Ms. Mikkelson works collaboratively with clients to craft the specific desired outcome.
Professional Memberships and Associations

Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA)
MSBA Family Law Section
Stearns-Benton County Bar Association (SBBA)

Bar Admission

Minnesota
United States District Court for the District of Minnesota

Areas of Expertise
Family Law, Child Protection Law, Landlord-Tenant Law, & Criminal Expungement
Education

Hamline University, Juris Doctor, May 2013
Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude

Erin L. Kipka

Bankruptcy Paralegal

Erin has been in the legal field for 15 years. Prior to beginning at Heller & Thyen, Erin worked at Stearns County Courthouse for 1 year. She joined Heller & Thyen June 1, 2006.

Education:

A.A.S. Degree in Business Management (emphasis in Office & Legal Administration) from Rasmussen College – (2006)

Concentration:

Bankruptcy

Jennifer K. Schweim

Family Law & Criminal Law Paralegal

Jen has been in the legal field since 2016 and joined Heller & Thyen on June 11, 2018. She has an extensive background working in a professional office setting.  She joins us with experience working in the areas of Family Law and Criminal Law.

Education:

Minnesota School of Ministry

Concentration:

Family Law and Criminal Law

Julie K. Kelly

Paralegal

Julie joined Heller & Thyen in July of 2021. Prior to joining the firm, Julie worked as a Paralegal with Central MN Legal Services and the Stearns County Self Help Center for 10 years. She has an extensive background in Family law, Criminal Expungements, Housing, Eviction Expungements, Protective Orders and Civil Litigation.

Education: AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies from Rasmussen College (2011)

Business Administration Certificate from St. Cloud Business College

Concentration: Family Law & Criminal Law

Kathy M. Peterson

Paralegal

Kathy has worked as a personal injury paralegal since 2003 in the Minneapolis and St. Cloud areas. She joined Heller and Thyen in August 2021.

Education: AA Degree in Paralegal Studies from North Hennepin Community College (2003)

Concentration: Personal Injury

Shelbi Marklowitz

Paralegal
Shelbi joined Heller & Thyen in 2021. She has an extensive background working in a professional office and customer service setting.