Attorney Maren L. Swanson

AREAS OF PRACTICE


My story:

In 2021, I will celebrate 40 years as a lawyer. I did not grow up among lawyers nor did I have a lifelong dream to be a lawyer. I grew up in Northfield, Minnesota, graduated from St. Olaf College with a major in English, and got a master’s degree at the University of St. Thomas intending to teach high school English. Then, just for “fun,” I took a night class on sex-based discrimination in law and was inspired to apply to law school.

When I entered the University of Minnesota Law School, my grand ambition was to use the law to overcome social injustice on a large scale. It has turned out that my work as a lawyer has been on a much smaller scale, helping one client at a time accomplish something essential to his or her life, but this work has come to feel as important, and sometimes as monumental, as overcoming social injustice!

When I began practicing law in Owatonna in 1981, I was a “GP”–a general practitioner. I handled everything from divorce to real estate, wills and probate, criminal defense, civil litigation, and more. After moving to Northfield in 1986, I was assistant city attorney for 2 years and then city attorney for Northfield for over 20 years. I remained in private practice during that time and continued to handle family law and other matters as well. While I remain something of a “GP,” since 2010 my practice has focused primarily on family law.

My long and varied experience in family law, spanning the years since 1981, is invaluable to my family law clients. I have a broad and deep familiarity with the laws, rules and court decisions that impact divorce and related legal matters. I know the court system, the “players,” and how to achieve optimal results in the most efficient manner. In addition, my broad general legal background means I understand other areas of the law (such as real estate and contract law) as they impact family law, perhaps better than attorneys whose experience is limited to family law.

I have been divorced and I have been a single parent. I understand the stress and fear my clients experience and I do my best to explain things and reassure them as we move through the process together.

I represent both men and women. I have no trouble seeing each case from my client’s perspective.

I have litigated difficult cases involving allegations of physical, verbal and sexual abuse, custody fights, and disputes over property and financial support. I am a strong advocate for my clients. At the same time, I believe that the best resolution of family law issues is a resolution arrived at by the parties themselves rather than one imposed on them by the court. Beginning in 2021, I am no longer accepting new clients whose cases are highly contested and likely to require court action to resolve.

I believe there is such a thing as a healthy divorce. I often say that there are divorce attorneys out there who make things worse; we at Lampe Law Group try to make things better.

My philosophy:

No matter what I do as a lawyer, my goal is to obtain a good resolution of my clients’ issues with as little anxiety and expense to them as possible. The judicial system does not always facilitate this goal, so I encourage early settlement discussions, informal exchange of information, and other means of resolving disputes without litigation.

Legal disputes are fraught with emotion. It is easy to lose sight of what’s important and to simply get caught up in the battle. I do my best to encourage respectful communication between parties and attorneys and to promote reasonable settlement of disputes. After all, most cases settle before trial, so it makes much more sense to settle earlier in the process rather than later, after animosity and alienation have increased and after more of your precious resources have been spent.

There are clients out there who simply want to fight. They’d rather pay their attorney to fight than give anything to the other party. There are attorneys who are happy to take their clients’ money to fight this kind of fight. These clients and these attorneys seem to find each other. If this is who you are, I am not the attorney for you. But if you want an attorney to advise you of your rights, give sound counsel as to options and likely outcomes, advocate for you as needed, and help you reach your goals without unnecessary conflict and expense, I would love to meet with you to discuss your case.

 


BAR ADMISSIONS

U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, 2005

Minnesota, 1981

EDUCATION

University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN:  Juris Doctor, with honors, 1981

University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN:  Master of Arts in Teaching, 1974

St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN: Bachelor of Arts, with honors, 1970

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS

Minnesota State Bar Association – Family Law Section Member

Rice County Bar Association

League of Minnesota Cities – City Attorneys Association

PRO BONO AND VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES

Rice County Dispute Resolution Program

SMRLS pro bono legal services

 

OTHER INTERESTS

Hosting family gatherings, politics, reading, walking