Introducing RCBA Vice President: Victoria Elsmore

Victoria Elsmore knows that seemingly small decisions can alter the course of someone’s career. From working on a political campaign in California, to clerking at a small firm, and eventually being asked by a colleague to volunteer for the RCBA Judges Dinner, Elsmore will now serve as Vice President for the RCBA for the 2021-22 bar association year. 

Elsmore is the newest member of the Ramsey County Bench, accepting a position as a Ramsey County Family Court Referee. Prior to this recent move, she was an attorney at Collins, Buckley, Sauntry & Haugh in St. Paul. After graduating from UW-LaCrosse, Elsmore had her sights set on a career in politics. After working on a Congressional campaign in California, she noticed something about her fellow campaign workers, “All of the people who made decisions I wanted to make had law degrees.” After the campaign was over, she decided to come home and get a law degree with sights set on a political career. However, her 1L year inspired her to take a different track.

The classes were more impersonal than she anticipated, and Elsmore wanted to focus on a career working with people. “I wanted to find a way to take this law degree, and have it impact humans, actual human people in a way that felt more grounded,” she said. A friend of a friend found a law clerk position for her at a small law firm that did bankruptcy, criminal, and family law. Working there made something click. During her first family law case she said it was like a lightbulb had turned on in her head, and she realized she had found her calling, “We’re talking to actual people and the work that we’re going to do is going to have actual impacts, not just on my clients, but on a generation or an entire family. That really spoke to me.” 
Elsmore joined Collins, Buckley, Sauntry & Haugh in 2015. Soon afterwards, colleagues encouraged her to get involved with the bar association. One of them was 2019-2020 RCBA President Sarah McEllistrem, who thought Elsmore’s talents would be a good fit for the Judges Dinner committee. “I didn’t even know that the Judges Dinner existed. There really is a thing for everyone if you are willing to go looking,” said Elsmore.

She enjoyed her time so much that it eventually led to her joining the RCBA board of directors, where she served as the Minnesota Women Lawyer’s representative. After her term on the board was over, she still felt called to be in leadership. “I thought that an organization is only as strong as people who are willing to step up and keep the lights on. That’s why I had decided that a leadership role made sense for a next step,” she said. 

In addition to her bar association leadership, Elsmore has been an advocate for working parents in the legal profession. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the struggles of attorneys who are also parents. “It highlighted a problem that was already present in the legal community,” said Elsmore, “We have very high expectations for lawyers that they have 45 balls and they keep them all in the air and we don’t ever want to see any effort on their faces keeping those balls in the air.” 

Elsmore hopes that the good things that came out of pandemic’s effects will stick around, “I think that there was sort of an influx in empathy of ‘Oh man this is hard, it’s hard on everybody’ and I hope some of that exists beyond when things go back to normal.”

One place for professional connection or career growth is the RCBA. “It’s a ‘one-stop shop’ for whatever it is you need,” she said. While the Association can be a place where you take a CLE, go to a happy hour, or network, it can also be a place where you present a CLE or serve on a leadership role. “We’re all trying to find that area that can be ours to set ourselves apart,” said Elsmore, “The RCBA can allow you to find the area that’s going to be yours.” 

Fast Facts: Get to Know Victoria

  • Favorite Twin Cities Restaurant: Tongue in Cheek on the east side of St. Paul
  • Best TV show you've binged recently: I really like Star Trek Discovery and Picard. I watched the heck out of those in quarantine.
  • Favorite concert you've been to: Elton John and Billy Joel with my dad.
  • Favorite play you've been to: I had the opportunity to see Hamilton in Chicago and it was amazing.
  • Most memorable vacation spot: Japan
  • One store you could max out your credit card at: Any bookstore!
  • What is your go to listen: During the pandemic instead of joining a book club, I joined a podcast club. Through that I've found so many podcasts I've liked. My favorites have been "The Weeds" and "Magnus Archives."