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Melissa Nilsson
Melissa Nilsson

2021 Attorneys of the Year: Melissa Nilsson

Family law attorney Melissa Nilsson often has a front seat to people behaving poorly in stressful situations as their lives become irreparably changed.

“We see a different side of people that most do not see,” Nilsson says. “We see clients at their worst. They’ll admit that to you after the fact and, often times, apologize for their behavior.”

The Henson Efron attorney said clients and opposing parties were on good behavior during the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, but after about six months of lockdown, that good behavior started to dissipate. “People aren’t playing as nicely as they were early on,” Nilsson says. “We are lucky that virtual appearances have allowed us to continue our work and avoid backlogs, but living in a virtual world of mediations and court hearings has resulted in more bad behavior. I think parties act in ways on screen that they rarely, if ever, would act in person.”

After earning an undergraduate degree in sociology, she saw that training as a sound underpinning for law school and family law practice. After arriving in the Twin Cities, she worked with a family court judge. “I realized that family law was the perfect fit for me,” Nilsson says. “Family law incorporates not only my legal education, but my education in sociology and psychology  regarding human relationships and behavior.”

Nilsson has been recognized as a top attorney by several publications, and a pro-bono client nominated Nilsson for this year’s Minnesota Lawyer Top Attorneys award. Her reputation, combined with her work during the pandemic, boosted her practice even as Nilsson juggles working at home with a spouse and three children.

Nilsson said she likes family law because of the opportunity to help divorcing parents navigate this difficult time in their lives and the chance to help her clients and their families find the best way forward.

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2021 here.

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