Meet Lisa Chesley: 'It turns out that I love my job'

0919-Lisa-Chesley-150LISA CHESLEY graduated from Hamline University School of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law) in 2014 and moved to her hometown of Mankato, Minnesota to work with her father, Robert Chesley. They opened Chesley Law Firm in 2017 and focus their practice on helping families through estate planning, guardianships and conservatorships, long term care planning, and estate administration. 

Why did you go to law school?

I grew up wanting to be a lawyer, just like my dad. When I was a kid, I wrote a “will” that dictated which of my siblings and cousins would receive my stuffed animals upon my demise. Law school was the logical choice after graduating from Hamline University with my B.A. in legal studies and political science. It was a way I could start a career helping others.  

You moved back to Mankato after law school and joined your father’s firm. Was that always the plan, or were you tempted to go in another direction? 

Working with my dad after graduating from law school was a special opportunity. He has been practicing for over 40 years, he loves his job, and he has a great reputation, so I knew that I could learn from his experience. He was in a law firm with five other attorneys that practiced in a variety of areas, so I thought that I could also get an idea of what area of law I wanted to focus on. It was always in the back of my mind that I would leave after a few years and move back up to the Twin Cities, but in 2017 my dad and I opened our own firm and I got married. It turns out that I love my job and the Mankato area, so I’ll be staying put for the foreseeable future. 

What’s the best advice you ever got? 

As I prepared to be a lawyer I always heard “your reputation is everything.” Initially, I thought about how that applied to my conduct in the courtroom and in the community. It was easy for me to be professional, understanding that my reputation would follow me for years. However, it was not until I was a few months into my career that I understood how this piece of advice applied to many different aspects of my practice. When determining whether to represent clients, how to interact with opposing counsel, or what route to take in difficult cases, I tend to think about how that decision will affect my reputation. Thinking about my reputation has also helped guide me when making decisions about my career and my business. In law school, “your reputation is everything” seemed like such a simple, obvious piece of advice, but the more I practice, the more I understand how so many of my actions can directly impact my reputation. 

Tell us a little about what you get out of your MSBA membership and your involvement in the 6th District Bar Association.

Other than using almost all of the resources that come with the MSBA membership (practicelaw, mndocs, Fastcase, CourtOps, Communities—
I could go on…), the MSBA community is the biggest benefit. The connections I have made through MSBA have undoubtedly benefited my practice and my clients. I was recruited as secretary/treasurer of the 6th District Bar Association after working in Mankato for less than a year. I eagerly jumped on board as a way to meet people and grow connections. After serving as secretary/treasurer (2015-2016), I transitioned to vice president (2016-2017), and became president for the 2017-2018 term. Serving in these roles allowed me to get to know many different attorneys in the Mankato area. This year I’m proud to be the 6th District’s representative to the MSBA Assembly and am looking forward to representing my district and meeting new people from around the state.   

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

It’s important to me to be active in my community. I serve as a board member for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Academy for Elder Law Attorneys, and for the Mankato victim advocacy and emergency shelter organization, Committee Against Domestic Abuse. I also volunteer with the Greater Mankato Area United Way and through my local church. I’m always looking for new ways to be involved in the Mankato area, but it’s also fun to get away once in a while. My husband and I love to travel, even if it’s just a day trip in the car. We enjoy seeing new places, trying new restaurants, and listening to live music. When I have spare time at home, I enjoy cooking and baking, kayaking, and gardening.