Attorney, Gretchen Gurstelle Attorney at Law
Gretchen Gurstelle fell in love with criminal law during an evidence course in her second year at the University of Minnesota Law School.
Prosecution or defense, it didn’t matter. What mattered to Gurstelle was that her work could make a difference in people’s lives.
Gurstelle’s first experience with criminal law was as a law clerk in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis, doing research, writing memorandums and drafting portions of appeals. She clerked with Minneapolis defense attorney Thomas Kelly during her last semester of law school.
Now a solo practitioner, Gurstelle works with Kelly and other attorneys while building her own practice, and has had some interesting and intense experiences.
Kelly and Gurstelle represented Hawa Hassan, one of two Rochester women convicted this year of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
“It’s an unusual charge and I think it was a wonderful opportunity to work on such a unique case,” Gurstelle said.
Preparation for the trial lasted about 16 months, with Gurstelle, Hassan and an interpreter listening to numerous recorded telephone conversations to prepare Hassan’s defense.
Gurstelle also played a key role in a North Dakota homicide case, drafting many motions and jury instructions that Kelly said were critical to resolving the case. Her work helped lead to a favorable plea negotiation, according to Kelly, who describes Gurstelle as committed, empathetic, conscientious and extremely prepared.
“I think because she is confident in her preparation and in her research and in her social skills, she is able to take up the greater role in cases than other younger lawyers,” Kelly said. “There are not too many young lawyers whom either I or my colleagues would feel comfortable in trusting significant parts of a trial to or to do trial preparation, but we do feel that trust in her because of that confidence.”