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Roxanne N. Thorelli
Roxanne N. Thorelli

Breaking the Ice: Pro bono commitment earns volunteer award

Name: Roxanne N. Thorelli

Title: Associate, Fredrikson & Byron

Education: B.A., organizational communication and business management, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

When Roxanne N. Thorelli spends Friday afternoons advising clients of the Volunteer Lawyers Network, the Fredrikson & Byron associate is practicing what her mother taught her to do.

“My mom raised us that as community citizens we should do our part to give back to those around us,” Thorelli said. “Continuing that through today is really important.”

For her commitment to pro bono service, Thorelli last month received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN).

Thorelli completed more than 100 hours of pro bono legal services between July 2019 and June 2020, surpassing the Hennepin County Bar Association’s (HCBA) Centennial Pro Bono Challenge. She typically volunteers two Fridays a month with VLN’s employment clinic and has put in 175 hours on 70 cases since May 2020.

A lawyer in Fredrikson’s mergers and acquisitions group, Thorelli began practicing in 2017. She is secretary-treasurer of HCBA’s New Lawyers Section.

A dual citizen of the United States and Sweden, Thorelli studied abroad in Sweden as an undergraduate while also visiting family and learning about the culture. She recently returned from another trip there.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Discussing anything travel-related. I’ve traveled to approximately 50 countries and 40 states. I got the travel bug studying abroad in undergrad. What’s most fun to hear about and discuss is the learning that people do from traveling and how they’ve grown and understand other perspectives. I like new experiences — scuba diving, paragliding, hang gliding, whitewater rafting, hiking — and foods, so that can be a great way to start a conversation too.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: It was a childhood dream of mine to be a lawyer. My uncle is one, and he was my inspiration for that. In college, I confirmed my interest during one of those courses that you take to make sure you’re on the right path with your major. That confirmed that my personality and knowledge fit well with business and law.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: People canceling plans last minute without rescheduling. I find it somewhat disrespectful towards the other person’s time.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: I really enjoy walks by Stone Arch Bridge. I generally go at sunset and check out patio and rooftop restaurants. St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis is such a fun neighborhood with the unique architecture and old cobblestone roads. There’s a new (Indigenous) restaurant called Owamni near the downtown side of Stone Arch. We got the smoked trout dip, which was really awesome. The waiter recommended it, and I also recommend it.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: I’m from La Crosse. I would take them boating out on the Mississippi River. It’s nice because it has the bluffs in the distance too. I’m really the sunscreen police, so I don’t let people forget their sunscreen because the sun will get you when you’re out there for a full day. Next weekend is the big Oktoberfest celebration in my hometown so I’ll be back for that. That’s a really fun time.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was such an advocate for women’s rights. One of the most monumental situations for me was the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriages. That was a really big shift that she had an important part in.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: That lawyers are liars or dishonest, based on what they see in courtroom TV shows or the movie “Liar Liar.” Lawyers are people, and it really comes down to personal character, which could be flawed in any profession.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: “Legally Blonde.” It supports feminism and pushes the boundaries of society for women, which I appreciate.


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