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Vanessa Szalapski
Vanessa Szalapski

2021 Up & Coming Attorneys: Vanessa Szalapski

Focusing her practice on health litigation is no accident for Vanessa Szalapski, whose father is an orthopedic surgeon.

That connection helped Szalapski skip the emergency room line after childhood mishaps and is valuable today in her practice as a Dorsey & Whitney health litigation associate.

“I have a little inside baseball knowledge of how the system works, who the different players are and what some of the nuances in different medical practices are,” Szalapski said.

In her pro bono service, Szalapski supports diverse communities in a variety of ways, including helping to represent a man who is challenging his conviction by a non-unanimous jury. (Last year in Ramos v. Louisiana, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such verdicts unconstitutional but this year determined that its Ramos ruling is not retroactive).

Szalapski also volunteers to help low-income people with expungement applications.

“The majority of people that I help get expungements are interested in social work, working with vulnerable populations or something health care-related,” Szalapski said. “You’re not only helping them, you’re helping your entire community because we need people who are passionate about and good at those types of jobs.”

Szalapski applies the diversity and inclusion principles she has learned to her role as a member of the firm’s Minneapolis recruiting committee. “It’s meaningful because it feels like you actually have an opportunity to make a difference,” said Szalapski, who also does commercial and minority shareholder litigation and fraud investigations in the financial services sector.

A figure skater since age 5, Szalapski skated competitively through college and now serves as a judge at test sessions and local competitions.

“In life, in the practice of law, in academics you’re always going to have setbacks,” Szalapski said. “But you have to learn how to get up and just keep going. That is probably the most valuable things I ever learned from skating.”

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