Class of 2013
Betsey Lund Ross brought her skills back to Central Minnesota after law school. Her volunteer work included reduced-fee and pro bono legal services for women at Anna Marie's Alliance.
What are you doing now?
I am a partner and attorney with Lund Sauter P.A., 14 Seventh Ave. N, St. Cloud.
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
Receiving the 5 Under 40 award helped me connect with and get to know many other leaders in Central Minnesota. Additionally, people started to recognize me as someone who was not only dedicated to the legal practice and my clients, but to the growth and promotion of Central Minnesota.
Other big changes since you received the award?
In June 2014, I opened a law practice with my law partner, Amy Sauter. I also got married Aug. 22.
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
Central Minnesota is attracting young professionals who are dedicated to civic involvement and bettering the places they live.
Originally ran: January 19, 2014
When Betsey Lund graduated from Sauk Rapids-Rice High School, she was eager to leave Central Minnesota.
Now she's back — and giving back.
During and after her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she worked with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, helping probationers and parolees find employment and develop job skills.
"There were times I was driving a big 16-passenger van full of people from the jail," Lund said. "My mother was quite pleased at that. I remember a lot of calls where she was saying, ‘What are you thinking?' I was like, ‘Mom, I'm just trying to help people.' "
Lund worked part-time at a three-bedroom halfway house for people who had been charged with crimes and were awaiting trial but had no place to live and were a bail risk. Her job was to make sure they were home when they were supposed to be, that they were attending their appointments and were ready for court, and that they didn't have any alcohol, drugs or guests. Eventually, she moved up to a position where she worked in occupational rehabilitation within many of the Wisconsin prisons.
Her career began to come full circle when she went to law school at Hamline University, graduating in 2008. She worked as a judicial law clerk in the Rochester area for two years before realizing she missed Central Minnesota. Since joining the firm of Franz Hultgren Evenson, P.A., she has built a practice in business/employment law, family law, real estate and estate planning. It has proved rewarding in more ways than one, especially as she specializes in helping female entrepreneurs.
Why did you want to become a lawyer?
"In fifth or sixth grade, I took one of those career assessment tests to help you determine what you should be when you grow up. Mine said either an auto mechanic or an attorney. I knew I didn't have much interest in auto repair work, so from quite an early age I thought I should be an attorney.
"My brother knew that was my calling from when I was very young because he always said I had an argument for everything. It seemed like a natural fit. When I went to law school, I thought I was going to become a prosecutor. I had interest in criminal law and working with domestic abuse victims, sexual assault crimes and things like that. But I took some business law classes and employment law courses and really enjoyed them. That's where my career took me ...
"I don't have any other attorneys in my family. When I went to law school, I realized a lot of people did — their parents or a sibling had gone through law school before them. I was actually the first one in my family to get a four-year degree."
What did you learn from your time as a judicial clerk in Olmsted County?
"It's a great opportunity for law students and those who have graduated from law school to be on the other side of the bench. You get a sense for how judges make their rulings. What things do they consider? What things frustrate them? What do they not like people to do in court? What do they like in good attorneys? ...
"The judge I worked for was also very active in conciliation court, or small-claims court. She helped start a process of using referees, which are licensed attorneys, to hear those cases. It was the first time in Olmsted County where judges weren't hearing those cases, but there were so many cases on the court docket that they needed to go to a different process. I helped with that and worked with the referees to get it set up. People were happy because, instead of their court date being eight months from now, it was four weeks out. ...
"About a quarter of all law students go on to judicial clerkships. A lot of employers think it's a good steppingstone. It was for me because I got to see a lot of the everyday cases that people have — the ‘I loaned you money, you owe me money back' cases. I knew that was setting me up well for practice because those are the things we see every day. We don't always see the big 10-day trial cases you hear about on the news. We get the everyday cases where people just want to get their money or their property back."
You make a special effort to connect with clients away from your office and speak to groups about law issues. Why do you do that, and how does it make you different?
"It can be easy to stay in your office and wait for clients to come with questions. But when you really hear what's going on in the community and with business owners is when you go out and meet with them and do presentations.
"I can't give legal advice in a presentation, but they'll ask you the questions that relate to their own business and it gives you a sense of what people are dealing with. For example, one of the big issues is social media policies for employers. What should an employer do about somebody who's saying negative things about the company or their supervisor on Facebook?
"Those questions might not come into the office, but employers are certainly looking for those answers. They may not pick up the phone and call an attorney, but if they see there's a presentation through the Chamber of Commerce or a business women's group, they might take the time to listen and talk with you. If you get out and talk to your clients, you get a better understanding of what their daily needs are."
What are some examples of specific needs and questions women entrepreneurs have and how do you help them?
"A lot of the clients I see started off with home-based small businesses. We saw a lot of activity in that area when the economy was bad and it was a way to supplement their income. Now they've grown and it's become, ‘Oh, we need employees' or they have to get office space or have legal compliance with how they're registering with the secretary of state. They need help setting up their business entity, whether they're going to be a corporation or an LLC.
"Women entrepreneurs look at some of the issues different from men. There's a little bit more personal side to it. It's their passion — what their business is. That's not to say that men don't have that same passion, it's just that it's a different sort of passion. Women are also considering things like ‘How am I going to balance this with kids?' I know a lot of dads have those same responsibilities, but women almost always have those questions. ...
"They want to reach out to other women and ask them how they handled a situation ... that's why I belong to a lot of business networking groups — particularly for women. We take the time to sit down and say, ‘What issues have people run into with their businesses?' For some women, it may be the first time they've owned a business or even the first time anyone in their family has owned a business."
How will women entrepreneurs influence the Central Minnesota economy in the years to come, and what's your role with it?
"I think we're already seeing and will continue to see more of the small boutiques and shops. We're still going to have the big-box stores, but I think we're going to have more and more small shops and that's going to have a huge impact on St. Cloud if we can continue to do it.
"Other markets have seen that, where you have vintage stores and antique stores. If we continue to help those small businesses grow, that will bring people to St. Cloud. It would be great if St. Cloud could be known as a place to come to for those kinds of shops.
"I've always thought the downtown area is a resource we don't use enough. It's always been a place people have driven away from to get home. Let's bring people downtown and have things on the weekends and in the evenings. Those are all economic drivers."
Education: Bachelor of arts, legal studies and social welfare, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Juris Doctor, Hamline University School of Law.
FYI: Lund was a litigation law clerk for the League of Minnesota Cities in St. Paul while she was in law school at Hamline. She served as a judicial law clerk in Olmsted County before joining Franz Hultgren Evenson, P.A. in 2010.
She focuses on helping female entrepreneurs with business/employment law and helps victims of domestic abuse with family law by providing reduced-fee and pro bono legal services for women at Anna Marie's Alliance. She is president of Business Women of Central Minnesota, treasurer for the Central Minnesota Chapter of Minnesota Women Lawyers and serves as a high school mock trial judge for the Minnesota State Bar Association. Find more at www.nfclaw.com.