Attorney opens new office in hometown of DL
From her quaint, little corner office in the historic Greystone building, Leslie Thielen sits staring out the big windows that face the Detroit Lakes School Administration building.
“I get kind of nostalgic,” she says, with an excited look in her eye.
This is exactly where Thielen wants to be – an attorney with a law firm she respects, practicing the kind of law she likes and living in the town she loves.
“I adore my hometown,” she said, adding that she is a 1998 Detroit Lakes High School graduate.
Thielen has opened up an office in the Greystone under the Fremstad Law Firm (out of Fargo), and although she couldn’t have foretold how it would all roll out, it’s all been a part of her overall plan.
Growing up in Detroit Lakes, Leslie Parker always knew she wanted to be an attorney.
“At a very young age — elementary school age — I remember being interested in the law,” she said, “but I couldn’t really tell you why.”
But that little Parker girl, known for thinking things through and following the path towards her goals, did what she did best – stayed the course.
“There were no attorneys in my family – my family kind of has a long history of banking, but progressing through high school and college it was always more in the center of my mind that this is what I’m shooting for,” said Thielen, who admits she probably didn’t really understand what being an attorney entailed, she just knew she wanted to be one.
She participated in sports in high school, and of course, mock trial.
After high school she went on to the University of Minnesota where she continued zeroing in on her goals in law.
She was accepted into law school at Marquette University in Wisconsin, and although she had never been to Milwaukee or to Marquette, she jumped.
“That was not typically how I worked,” she laughed, “I’m usually a plan-ahead kind of a person.”
But it worked out.
Thielen put the hard work into law school that is required and graduated in 2006.
However, finding a job would be a challenge, especially if she wanted to get back home — which she did.
“I’m much more of a small town person,” said Thielen. “College both in the Twin Cities and in Milwaukee made me realize that I’m more comfortable in a smaller town.”
But the job market was tight, and because Thielen had went to school so far away, she had no legal network around the region.
Her dad, however, had his own goal of getting his girl back to Detroit Lakes and started talking to people he knew around town.
“I got a job here in town with Hunt Law Firm,” said Thielen. “Linda Hunt, who is now retired, was probably the most well-known, well respected estate attorney in the area, and she was so great to learn from and was really great to me as a new attorney.”
For two years Hunt showed Thielen the ropes, teaching her all the little things only experienced attorneys can.
On a personal note, Thielen officially became “Thielen” when she married her now husband, Casey, another Detroit Lakes High School graduate.
“That’s how it works a lot of times in small town Detroit Lakes,” she laughed.
When Hunt retired, Thielen spent some time teaching in the paralegal program at Minnesota State University and Technical College before taking a job at Fremstad Law in Fargo a year and a half ago.
There, she would continue to sharpen and deepen her legal skills, and although the firm itself is a general firm, Thielen specializes in the areas of business, real estate, probate and estate planning.
“I really foresee going for a long time with this firm — it’s a good fit,” said Thielen. “I like how they approach things, and it’s really refreshing.”
Thielen says a big concept at Fremstad is to cultivate long-term relationships with clients, particularly businesses — to be their outside general council when it isn’t feasible to have their own full-time, in-house attorney.
Another concept is to get those clients to come to them before trouble happens, meaning if there is any kind of a business document to be signed, Thielen and her Fremstad crew are hoping they can take a preemptive peek at it first.
“We’ve saved people so much time and money doing it this way, rather than waiting until some-thing goes sour,” said Thielen.
This kind of relation-ship requires being an attorney that somebody sees as trustworthy.
Insert Leslie Thielen.
“Leslie is someone who is so approachable,” said Joel Fremstad, the firm’s senior counsel. “We don’t want anyone to ever be afraid to call a lawyer and to have someone like her who is practical and has a real sense of an individual client’s problem – those are the kinds of attorneys I look to hire because our goal is to have those clients coming back to us if the need arises.”
Fremstad says Thielen just “fits in” with any kind of client, whether they are from large businesses or small, one-person businesses or individuals.
“We do feel like the Detroit Lakes area is a community is somewhat under-served, so Leslie, being local, that’s a value,” said Fremstad, who says Thielen can be that trustworthy attorney the community knows and can go to, but with the support of an entire Fremstad legal team to tap into.
“And I do find myself finding that connection here with people,” said Thielen. “It’s less than six degrees of separation in Detroit Lakes, and so when someone comes in, I can usually figure out… I used to go to school with your sister or I used to golf with your mom.”
And although Thielen still only holds official Friday hours in Detroit Lakes, she is hoping to grow her client list in the lakes area so that she is forced to be here more.
It’s where her husband, Casey and step-daughter, Haley are, it’s where her family still is, and it’s where her heart is.
“I will sit and stare out the window — this is the same road my dad was on and my grandparents too. This is the community I grew up in, and I’m here now as a contributing member to the community — it is really a fascinating thing to me that all the pieces sort of fell into place,” said Thielen.
“I just really adore this community, and I’m so glad that I got to have been a part of it growing up and still get to be a part of it, because there’s nowhere else that I could imagine living and really being happy.”