A native New Yorker, I was born and raised in New York (Queens and Long Island), before falling in love with Colorado and moving here over ten years ago. I am a 1990 graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. After three years of working as a paralegal in a major law firm in New York City, I decided to make the leap and enroll in law school. I received my Juris Doctor in 1996 from the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in Long Island, New York. During law school, I focused on gaining practical experience through participation in internships and clinics. I was a summer intern at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office where I became familiar with the inner workings of the criminal justice system. During my second year of law school I participated in the Mental Health Disability Law Clinic, and gained valuable insight while working on cases, many of which were class action law suits against New York State. This clinic has been a leading force in the movement to provide protection and advocacy for those who have been diagnosed as mentally ill. After the completion of the clinic, I continued to work with the professor over the summer in a paid summer internship position. This clinic experience provided me a sense of how I could be a positive force, as an attorney, in the lives of clients who are unable to advocate for themselves through a complex legal system. My first introduction to domestic relations law was through the participation in a semester long Family Law Clinic in 1995. In addition to being exposed to the divorce process and the many issues attendant to a dissolution of marriage, I represented individuals who were the victims of domestic violence by assisting them in obtaining a protection orders from the court.
Upon graduation from law school, I worked for the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society as a criminal defense attorney where I was thrown into the courtroom environment and forced to sink or swim. I quickly learned to overcome any fears I had of working in a field of law that requires me to appear in court. I decided to take my time and explore different facets of the practice of law, and decided to shift gears by taking a job in the corporate environment. In this position, I learned quite a bit about the discovery process in large civil litigation cases. I also realized at that point that I did not want to continue representing the faceless corporate client and that I longed to connect with my clients on a much deeper level. I felt that my interpersonal skills and ability to connect with people was not being maximized in the corporate context. Since i embarked upon my journey as a family law advocate back in 1999, I’ve found that the perfect fit for my skill set is through the representation of litigants in family law. After 14 years in this practice area, I feel that this is where I shine. My experience in this field has helped me to grow into a strong, skilled, confidant, and most of all, compassionate advocate for my clients and their children.This field of law also hits home for me, having experienced the divorce of my own parents as a young child.
My personal background enhances my ability to relate to my clients, and this makes me uniquely qualified as a lawyer in this field of practice. I am very sensitive to the impact this process has on the family, especially the children, as a child of divorce myself. I make it a point to keep my clients focused on their children and how their decisions and actions throughout the course of their case will impact their children. Whenever possible, it is my goal to move my clients toward resolution outside the courtroom, as this almost always results in the least detrimental effect upon the family. However, there are situations when the parties simply cannot resolve an issue, and, in that case, I am fully prepared to represent my client’s interests in the courtroom setting.
I have volunteered my time as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Denver CASA, an organization that strives to protect children and be a voice for their best interests within the juvenile justice system.I also spend time volunteering at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, Metro Volunteer Lawyers and at El Centro.
While I miss my home state of New York at times, I enjoy living in Denver with my husband Michael and our two beautiful children and would not trade it for the world.
Overall Rating from Avvo.com: 5 out of 5 stars
I hired Elissa for my divorce case after firing my first nightmare lawyer. Elissa and her paralegal kept me totally in the loop and even suggested things that I could do without them to save me from more attorney's fees. I would recommend Elissa and I wish I would have hired her at the beginning of my divorce.
View Elissa's Stepparent Adoption Video