Erika Stein & Kelsey Nelson of Morrison Sund: A Suburban Firm With Big Community Impact

Erika Stein & Kelsey Nelson
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Established in Minnetonka more than three decades ago, Morrison Sund PLLC is a general practice law firm with deep roots in the community. Its attorneys are trusted by local, national, and international clients to deliver the finest legal representation in matters spanning litigation; real estate; corporate and business law; trusts, estates and wealth transfer planning; bankruptcy and financial restructuring; employment law; and family law.

Erika L. Stein came to Morrison Sund in 2012 after beginning her legal career in Boston. Her practice is centered on estate planning, probate and trust administration, tax planning, business succession planning, and providing general legal counsel to closely held businesses.

Now a firm principal, Stein says that becoming the managing member has been a “fantastic learning experience as well as a wonderful way to think strategically about the future of the firm. Our ownership group is very active, and we all meet and make decisions together. I enjoy the opportunities it’s given me to better understand all practice areas of the firm, as well as the needs of attorneys and staff in each of those areas.”

Attorney Kelsey S. Nelson joined the firm in May 2022. She brings more than a decade of experience to a practice focused on trusts, estates, probate and conservatorship/guardianship planning. “I was previously practicing in the elder care and long-term housing continuum,” Nelson says. “After representing businesses that take care of the aging and end-of-life population, I was looking to work more with the family members themselves. I also brought over some elder care and medical assistance planning experience for families, which is a huge area right now.”

Morrison Sund’s hometown presence is a big draw for both attorneys and clients. “Many of us live in the Western suburbs,” Stein says, “and a lot of our clients are in this area, along with our networks and referral sources. In trusts and estates, I work with a lot of accountants, financial planners and wealth managers who are also Western suburban professionals.”

“I’ve kept my eye on the firm over a few years because of its reputation in the community,” Nelson adds. “I like meeting with people I see in the grocery store or at my son’s football games and being the person they trust when they need legal advice. I enjoy creating ongoing relationships with clients that extend beyond just one particular matter.”

The firm’s many complementary practice areas combined with its collaborative work culture results in an environment where client relationships are nurtured across the firm. Stein says that in a single week, four clients reached out to her with separate legal questions not related to trusts and estates. “In this area, we’re often the only attorney they know. It’s nice to be in a place where I can answer a question quickly or send them to a colleague.”

“We work well together across all practice areas, which allows for much better representation of clients and their needs,” Nelson adds. “In trusts and estates, 90% of clients own real estate, so it’s easy to consult our real estate department when questions arise. Clients often have corporate-related issues like forming an LLC for the family farm or a valuation dispute for the family business. We have lots of talent here to assist with those issues.”

The firm’s flexibility also allows its attorneys to deepen the development of their practice area in whatever direction they wish “If you want to focus on a certain type of client or advance in a particular practice area, it’s encouraged,” Stein says. “Being at a smaller firm also provides more opportunities for mentoring and collaboration.”

The essential nature of the firm’s services meant that it never fully closed its doors during the pandemic. With an entire floor of the building at their disposal, attorneys and staff had plenty of room to spread out and work safely when work required it.

“Another benefit of being a smaller firm is our ability to work with each individual and adapt as necessary. That flexibility meant the pandemic hit us very differently than a lot of firms. For those adept with technology, it was easy to go back and forth from remote to in-person work. But I think it forced those not so comfortable to learn different communication styles and ways of connecting with attorneys and clients. We had our doors open so we could meet with clients, but everybody worked remotely from time to time. I think it’s made us better communicators and better attorneys.”

Nelson says the fact that the firm remained open for business was another draw for her. “I was looking for an opportunity to come into the office and communicate with people and interact in some capacity with clients. For two years I was isolated, so it’s been very nice to have that.”

Morrison Sund’s attorneys also remain connected to the community through generous support of pro bono and charitable initiatives.

“Instead of trying to have consensus as an ownership group, we have a policy that allows us to each make our own directed charitable contributions with firm funds,” Stein explains. “We do things like sponsor local Little League teams and sit on boards of local organizations. Our attorneys are able to make very generous investments in causes that matter to them. In the past, I’ve served on a committee of the board of the Children’s Theatre Company, as the board chair of the Minnesota Chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance, and more recently on the Gift Advisory Council for Dunwoody College of Technology, and I have been providing pro bono legal services through Cancer Legal Care for many years.”

For the women at Morrison Sund, it is a place where they can build meaningful practices on their own terms. “The word that comes to mind when I think about the firm is openness,” Nelson says. “We are a client-centered practice with the ability to meet our clients wherever they are. Firm-wide, we strive to understand our clients’ goals and objectives, and then figure out how to put a structure around that to support their legal decision making.”

“I feel a strong sense of gratitude for my colleagues who are so gracious with their time, energy and mutual support of clients and each other, as well as for the clients who trust us to resolve their greatest challenges,” Stein says.

H.K. Wilson

H.K. Wilson is a contributing writer for Attorney at Law Magazine. She has been writing features for the publication for more than four years.

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