Spotlight on . . . Karen Elliott

Karen Elliott joined our Richmond office in 2014. She was raised in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., where her father worked as an economist for the Small Business Administration. Her mother was a high school teacher, with her brother eventually following in her footsteps as an educator – becoming a college professor and musician. Karen and her husband have a daughter who works in hospitality management.

Karen focuses her practice on labor and employment law and commercial litigation matters, representing start-ups to the Fortune 500, in industries ranging from nursing homes, physician practices, and health and rehab centers to construction, travel and entertainment, fast food, and retail. As a labor and employment lawyer, Karen helps clients navigate the alphabet soup of the 40 or more employment laws from the ADA, FMLA, GINA, OSHA to USERRA, and the myriad federal agencies such as DOL, EEOC, and NLRB. Because Karen is a trial lawyer, she understands the complexities involved in going to court, and helps clients work to resolve issues before they become legal issues. But as an experienced trial lawyer, she knows how to navigate agency investigations as well as courtroom drama. Karen empathizes with businesses facing difficult employment issues.


What led you to pursue a career in law?

I began my career as a journalist, writing for National Geographic WORLD magazine (children’s publication) and then on the daily newspaper, Bristol Herold Courier. At one water authority meeting the chairman turned to me and asked me what I thought they ought to do about an issue being discussed. I realized I wanted to provide the answer! I also realized that every story I wrote had a legal component, and I became interested in learning more about how the law impacts our everyday lives.

What do you enjoy most about your practice?

Of all of the practice areas I have worked with (commercial litigation and bankruptcy), employment law focuses the most on the everyday world impacting all of us. It is a constantly evolving area of law , closely impacted by daily news and current social issues.  It combines what I  loved about reporting (always something new happening) with the ability to get paid for telling people what I think they should do! Seriously, even though I’m a management-side lawyer, I believe I save a lot of jobs and keep employers from making costly mistakes. I really like that they call me in a crisis situation and that I can bring a sense of calm and relief.  It’s a great day when a client says, you really made this difficult situation easy for me.

What do you like to do on the weekends?

Go to the mountains to fly fish and take photos.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by my 97 and 100 –year old parents who in spite of their age, daily continue their quest for knowledge and continue to live rather than simply exist.

What makes you laugh?

“Funny” animal videos.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I took Scottish Highland dancing for several years as an adult and used to be able to do a pretty good sword dance.

Do you have a favorite charity or organization that you support?

Children’s Home Society.


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