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Barb Ell
Barb Ell

2020 Unsung Legal Heroes: Barb Ell

Barb Ell considers her Bowman and Brooke colleagues a second family, one she serves from Minneapolis as human resources director for the entire firm of 420 attorneys and staff in 13 offices nationally.

Those colleagues have only seen Ell’s dedication to the firm increase through difficult decisions — reductions in pay, cuts in hours, furloughs, terminations and other cost-saving measures — stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Ell studied COVID-19 laws to help answer countless employee questions, contributed to closing and reopening plans for all offices and responded to concerns arising from protests affecting firm locations after George Floyd’s death. As hiring resumes, she’s involved with recruiting videoconferences and remote on-boarding.

“I just want to make sure that people are OK,” Ell said, crediting her local team and administrators in other offices for their help. “I love this firm and I love the people in it.”

How and when did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the legal field?

I am originally from North Dakota. I moved here in 1997 after we had this big flood in Grand Forks. I was lucky enough to land an HR job here at Bowman and Brooke. I started out as the administrative assistant in HR and worked my way up to where I am today. I can’t imagine not being at this law firm.

What inspires you and motivates you to achieve your goals?

The employees. If I can make a difference in somebody’s day that’s truly what inspires me.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Hanging out with my friends and my family. It was my birthday (recently). Some lifelong friends that I have, we met up in Duluth. … I’m a country girl; I’m a Grand Forks girl. Getting back to nature, camping and hiking and fishing, those are the things that I love.

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