Lawson law firm marks 100th anniversary

By HANNAH JOHNSON – Stillwater Gazette

Lawson Law Firm has stood the test of time.

This year, the Lake Elmo law firm is marking 100 years of serving residents of the St. Croix Valley and beyond. As one of the oldest law firms in the area, Lawson specializes in general practice, whether its probate, family law issues or business issues.

"We generally meet the legal needs of every day life," said shareholder Tracey Galowitz. "That’s what we provide kind of cradle to the grave issues."

The firm originally held its office in Stillwater’s historic Lumberman’s Exchange building, but they moved to Lake Elmo in 2005. The law firm also has an office in Scandia, Minn.

Lawson traces its roots to 1912 when its co-founder Reuben Thoreen graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and returned to Stillwater to join a prominent local lawyer in a private practice. In 1948, Thoreen’s practice welcomed his son and son-in-law, John "Jack" F. Thoreen and Roderick A. Lawson, who were World War II veterans. Lawson became the firm’s namesake.

"We all live and work right in this community and that’s one of our biggest benefits," Galowitz said.

Over the years the law firm has worked on several local cases and has also helped create local foundations, including The Tozer Foundation and Scholarship Fund. The Tozer Foundation was set up in 1947 under the will of David Tozer, a wealthy Stillwater lumberman. In 1967, Jack Thoreen – who set up the Tozer Foundation – was appointed a Washington County District Court judge. Since then, The Tozer Foundation’s scholarship review duties have been passed on to Galowitz, who was also a recipient of the Tozer Foundation scholarship.

"We’re so fortunate because we have many longstanding staff," Galowitz said. "I’m celebrating my 25th year and others are celebrating more than 30 years with the law firm."

The law firm has also been involved with creating The Arcola Mills Historic Foundation. Lawson has also been involved in several watershed district projects, including the Valley Branch Watershed District’s large storm sewer project and the Carnelian-Marine St. Croix Watershed District’s Gravity Pipe Project to eliminate lakeshore-flooding damage.

Currently, Lawson is working on the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District’s Maplewood Mall Storm Water Retrofit, a $6 million project to divert the Mall’s parking lot rainwater runoff to more eco-friendly rain gardens and water absorbing porous asphalt parking areas instead of storm drains that discharge to area lakes.

While many companies have had to close their doors in this economy, Galowitz said that Lawson has been able to survive so long due to its strong ties with the community.

Lawson attorneys have volunteered their expertise to several local organizations, including Lake Elmo Bank, Lakeview Hospital, Tozer Foundation, local Rotary Clubs, Community Thread, Lions Club, FamilyMeans and the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce.

"We really get to know our clients because they say ‘Can we call you my attorney?’ " Galowitz said. "I think over the years we’ve had the privilege of working with families, kids and their kids over the century. We’ve been very blessed with great cliental and staff that gives the ability to give good service."

Now Lawson is not only celebrating a century of business, but it is also looking for growth opportunities, Galowitz said.

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