Kari Kanne: Putting Her Name on the Powerhouse Door

Kari Kanne

Attorney Kari Kanne is a long way from the farm in rural Iowa where she grew up. In March 2023, she was named a partner at Honsa Mara & Kanne, the culmination of a dream that began in childhood. With a practice dedicated exclusively to family law matters, the firm is known for its aggressive advocacy and sustainable outcomes in complex and high-asset family matters. Repeatedly recognized as one of the Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Stars attorneys under 40, Kanne takes her place at the table with attorneys Anne Honsa and Kristy Mara, respected leaders in family law and members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

With her name now on the firm’s door, Kanne is taking a moment to reflect on the path that brought her here. “I always wanted big things for myself and to get out of my small town, so at an early age, I decided I either was going to be a doctor or lawyer. Turns out, I am not a huge fan of blood, so lawyer was the obvious choice for me.”

Following college and before attending law school, Kanne fully tested her own resolve by first certifying as a paralegal. “I wanted to make sure that law school was the right investment for me, so I went to paralegal school. During paralegal school, I worked for a small immigration and family law firm and got my first taste of family law. I loved how I got to work directly with people and help them through the worst time of their life. From there, I decided to make the leap to law school — and the rest is history.”

Kanne’s methodical approach to her life and the law prompted her start as a staff attorney for Justice Anne K. McKeig when McKeig served the family court bench. There, Kanne acquired invaluable procedural insights while observing the litigation strategies of the various lawyers who appeared in court. “Anne appeared in front of Judge McKeig several times, and I was impressed with the way she handled herself in the courtroom,” she recalls. “I was determined to learn from the best, so when I heard she might have a job opening, I applied, and I’ve been here ever since.”

According to Kanne, her instincts about Honsa were correct. “Early on, Anne took me under her wing.  I attended mediations and went to court appearances with her. We discussed customized legal strategies and potential pitfalls for each client. During those early years with Anne, I figured out how I really wanted to practice family law. Anne is my biggest cheerleader, and we talked about the day when my name would be next to hers on the door, and that discussion is now a reality after over 10 years of working here. As a kid, this is what I dreamed about. However, the reality is so much better than I even imagined. The attorneys at my firm are strong, intelligent and incredibly hardworking women.”

The legal stakes are never higher than when a family’s future is on the line, and this is when Kanne and her colleagues shine. “I love problem solving and figuring out how to help someone navigate the worst part of their life,” she says. “Listening is key. I think at the end of the day, people just want to feel heard. I take a compassionate but commonsense approach to practicing family law. I work with each of my clients to develop a customized legal strategy based on their unique circumstances and employ this strategy to achieve the best possible outcome. When meticulous case management, strategic planning and careful negotiations do not result in settlement, my attention to detail, my thorough preparation and exceptional litigation skills stand out in the courtroom.”

In this emotionally-charged area of law, Kanne also strives to maintain objectivity. “I think about if I was a judge in the case, what would I do? The only way to be effective as an advocate in family law is to look at a case from all angles and try to understand what the other side is going to argue. Then I can prepare my client for reality. I don’t want my client thinking they are going to get a result that will not be close to the outcome. I use compassion coupled with sound legal advice to ensure that my clients make the best decisions for their family.”

Remaining objective aids her in maintaining balance outside of the law as well. Kanne’s husband is also a family law attorney, and they have two young children. “We live a really full life, but my career isn’t one that takes away my ability to live that full life. As a firm, we have created flexibility for all our staff so that everyone can achieve work-life balance. I have the ability to be there for my kids, and I do not miss any of their events. Our firm values families, and we convey this message to our clients by providing legal services that frame a divorce as not an end of family, but the beginning of a new chapter for their family.”

Kanne now has the opportunity to pay it forward by mentoring two new attorneys who have recently joined the firm. “They are both very intelligent and strong women, and I look forward to helping them in any way that I can — like Anne did for me,” Kanne says. “When you go to law school, you dream to someday have your name on door, but I never pictured working at a powerhouse, all-women firm. I’m so excited for the future of Honsa Mara & Kanne — new name, same great service.”

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