What made you decide to become a lawyer?

St. Paul, MN criminal defense attorney Deborah Ellis talks about why she wanted to be a lawyer.

Contact Deborah Ellis

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (651) 288-3554


Well I was a paralegal for a while and I worked in a civil law firm and then I decided well, you know, this was fun I would go to court or go to depositions but I didn’t have the final say in any case and so I wasn’t intimidated by that. I didn’t come from a family of any lawyers and I really didn’t know any lawyers growing up. So when I went to law school I think I had a good sense that I would love the law because I had worked in that law firm for a few years.

And then I say a big turning point for me was during law school I was a law clerk for a Ramsey County judge and I saw many, many trials then. But the most exciting was that I saw Doug Thompson try a murder case and I was the law clerk and you know we selected the jury and I came back at 9:00 at night for the verdict and it was very exciting, much more interesting, and exciting than any of the civil cases. So I wrote Doug a little note, a letter and said you know if ever you’re looking for a law clerk, I would be available. So I needed to leave it was the law clerkship was kind of I had learned what I could learn.

So I had applied a number of places and I was offered a job with the prosecutor’s office where I could have done bail motions and then I was offered part time work with Doug Thompson doing some law clerk, you know whatever, whatever he wanted. So go to the judge and I said what should I do, you know the prosecutor’s work would have been fulltime and better pay and Doug Thompson was just part time. And he said Deborah, are you asking me to make the decision for you? And I said, yes. And he said well, I’ll tell you this, if I could’ve worked for Doug Thompson when I was in law school that’s what I would’ve done and so that just cemented the decision right there. So I went to work for Doug when I was in law school and I stayed with him for 11 years.