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Lisa Elliott
Family law practice has evolved over the last decade, attorney Lisa Elliott says. (File photo)

Breaking the Ice: Contentious case still brings calls for advice

Name: Lisa Elliott

Title: Shareholder, Elliott Law Offices

Education: B.A. public relations, Regis College; B.S. business administration, Regis College; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

Minneapolis family law attorney Lisa Elliott still gets calls for advice from attorneys and others around the country based on her work on client David Rucki’s divorce from Sandra Grazzini-Rucki.

In a highly contentious case that made national headlines, David Rucki was awarded sole physical and legal custody of their five children while Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty in 2017 of deprivation of parental rights for hiding two of their children from him for two-plus years.

“What we all went through on this was kind of like trauma,” said Elliott, whose work earned her recognition as a Minnesota Lawyer Attorney of the Year.

Family law practice, however, has evolved over the last decade, Elliott said.

“It’s a much more cooperative practice where attorneys, financial professionals and mental health professionals work together to try and help a family move forward,” Elliott said. “The courts want people to figure out the best way especially focusing on the kids.”

Elliott and her brother, Patrick Elliott, launched their firm in 1998 after each had worked at separate firms and run solo practices.

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

A: Ask me about my two boys. Some days I may have positive things to say about them and others you may hear a long list of complaints, but they’re teenagers.

Q: Why did you study law and pursue it as a career?

A: I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I was looking at my last year college. My brother was a lawyer and I worked for him for a couple of summers back here in Minnesota. I liked that he was doing something different every day, the problem solving, the collaboration with the other attorneys in his office and that he wasn’t sitting behind a desk all day. It looked interesting.

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

A: I like historical fiction so I’m reading “A Column of Fire” by Ken Follett and “Meeting of the Waters” by Kim McClarin.

Q: What’s a pet peeve of yours?

A: An attorney who won’t respond to e-mails or phone calls in a timely manner. It makes it difficult to move the case forward or to answer the question that your client has when that’s all that their mind is focused on.

Q: What do you like best about your work?

A: The satisfaction of being able to help them problem solve and reach a good resolution on that problem, that issue.

Q: What do you least like?

A: Losing a motion or a case and having to make that call to the client and tell them, especially when you really think you should have won and think whoever was doing the deciding got it wrong.

Q: What do you like doing away from work?

A: I have two teenage boys, so I spend a lot of time at their sporting activities — hockey, soccer, baseball. I also participate in things like training for and participating in events like Tough Mudder (endurance events) with colleagues and friends. It gives you time to decompress especially when you’re doing that with people in the same practice area.

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

A: I grew up in Minneapolis and still live in Minneapolis. I would probably take them around the lakes in the city, Theodore Wirth Park, the Sculpture Garden, to show them the beautiful parks and what a vibrant city it is.

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

A: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her convictions, her accomplishments and her personal life story and through all of that she has stayed pretty humble.

Q: What’s your favorite depiction of the law or the legal profession in popular culture?

A: “My Cousin Vinny,” hands down. I still love that movie. The behind the scenes, taking pictures of the screens and measuring all of that stuff goes right into it.

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