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Lisa Ashley
Lisa Ashley

Breaking the Ice: Real estate practice expands after acquisition

Name: Lisa Ashley

Title: Of counsel, Ballard Spahr, Minneapolis office

Education: B.S., mass communications, Minnesota State University, Mankato; J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Lisa Ashley handles more national projects in her commercial real estate practice at Ballard Spahr since the Philadelphia-based firm acquired Lindquist & Vennum in Minneapolis two years ago.

That comes with being part of a firm that has more than 650 attorneys in 15 offices, Ashley said.

But she doesn’t get to see those projects in person, a favorite part of her practice, which includes banking and business transactions.

From her office window, however, Ashley can see the 801 Chophouse in the former Barns & Noble location at the RSM Plaza, which she represented in helping with the lease.

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: In the office my door is always open. Everyone’s welcome to stop by.

Q: What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A: I was at Mankato studying and working as an intern in public relations for the city of Mankato and the Mankato public schools. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of life. I looked through the post-grad offerings and law school — it was like the light bulb went off.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: I just finished Dan Brown’s “Origin.” Every couple of years I pick up the “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” and reread it. That’s my next book.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: When people are late. That’s like they’re saying that their time is more valuable.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A: The drafting. I know that sounds dorky but I do like that. I love problem solving with my clients. I have a great opportunity to mentor our associates, a couple of relatively newer-to-our-firm real estate associates. We put a lot of emphasis on pro bono at Ballard. They credit 100 percent of our pro bono to billable hours. I have spent time working with veterans because my brother is ex-military.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Setting boundaries. I’ve had to learn to do that. Setting boundaries and also managing expectations.

Q: What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A: Travel. I was just in Italy for a couple of weeks. I was a swimmer from seventh grade all through college so I have a pool and try to enjoy the most I can of that.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: I moved around a lot growing up. I live in Golden Valley now but consider Minneapolis my hometown. If someone was visiting I’d hope it was in the summer. I’d want to take them boating. My parents live on a lake so that would be fun. Touring Summit Avenue might be a fun to do to see what it’s like in St. Paul.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most—and why?

A: My retired real estate professor from William Mitchell, Eileen Roberts. She literally wrote the book on real property law in Minnesota. She challenged me personally and professionally to seek other opportunities. Now I’m lucky enough to call her a friend. (Wilkerson & Hegna) partner Kyle Hegna, who hired me in my first job. He was just killed in a tragic accident. He was a wonderful guy and it’s quite a loss.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A: In law school you think you’re going to work and get clients. You don’t realize there’s that huge marketing component because you really are selling your services.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the law, the legal professional in popular culture?

A: I don’t watch many legal shows because there are so many inaccuracies. But I enjoy “Law & Order: svu.” The dynamic between the police and attorneys is interesting. “The Paper Chase.” Someone told me do not watch that until after law school and I took that advice and am glad I did.

Editor’s note: Minnesota Lawyer extends condolences to the family of Kyle Hegna, who died Jan. 18 in a snowmobile crash.

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