Our Stories

Since its inception in 1866, the firm and its leaders have recognized that our most important resource is our talented and committed people. Throughout our halls, impressive resumes abound, but egos do not. We consistently attract and retain the best people. Our lawyers, paralegals, and staff work together in a collaborative environment, sharing ideas and experiences.

Here are just a few of our unique stories.
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Leah

Leyendecker

In 2008, Leah Leyendecker, then an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas, boarded a plane with her father and jetted off for Cameroon. It was her first visit to the country, a West African nation some 6,600 miles away, and her first chance to see her father’s homeland.

“It was a bit of a culture shock,” said Leyendecker, today an associate in Gray Plant Mooty’s Intellectual Property, Technology & Privacy practice group, “and a life-changing experience.”

The two-week sojourn offered her a new lens through which to view the world, fueling her interest in law and shaping her career in ways she did not fully understand at the time. Two years later, after graduating from St. Thomas, she joined Wilson Law Group, a Minneapolis-based firm focused on immigration matters.

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Clark

Osojnicki

Some might find it surprising to see a six foot four man in his 50s racing through an obstacle course, at turns darting, sprinting, and clapping at a four-legged animal.

But if you ask Clark Osojnicki, the firm’s Financial Analysis Manager, you get the impression there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing than competing with his dogs in agility competitions organized by the American Kennel Club.

“It’s a very social sport,” said Clark, who has been featured on Animal Planet and in USA Today. “There is a lot of strategy involved in agility. Every course is unique.”

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Brian + Liz

Dillon

As a firm with a long family tradition, a wide range of relationships are represented throughout the offices of Gray Plant Mooty—siblings, cousins, parents and children. However, if you were to ask the GPM staff if they could see themselves sharing a workplace with their spouse, you might encounter more resistance. Yet for Brian and Liz Dillon, both principals at the firm, they’ve made the uncommon arrangement work.

Brian and Liz met in law school at the University of Wisconsin, two weeks before Brian’s graduation. Liz, a year below Brian at UW, was on her way to a summer associate position at GPM, while Brian had secured a position at a law firm in Madison. The two remained together for the next year as Liz completed her final year of law school, but they knew they faced a difficult decision; GPM had extended an offer to Liz after she’d finished her summer there, and once she graduated, she and Brian would be living and working four hours away from one another.

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Tamara

Olsen

Tamara Olsen hadn’t always planned on being a lawyer. Coming from a family of “farmers, preachers, and teachers” in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Tamara completed her undergraduate at Minnesota State University – Moorhead and taught high school students at North High in Fargo upon graduation.

It was the recommendation of David Flint, one of her political science professors at Moorhead, which led Tamara to take the LSAT. When she showed Dr. Flint her scores, he told her she could apply to any law school she wanted. So Tamara applied to the two schools whose names she recognized at the time: Cornell and Harvard. Thankfully, Harvard said yes. (Years later, Tamara would reflect: “It was just the most naïve, unconsidered path imaginable… but it worked out fine.”)

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Maisa

Frank

Following three grinding years of law school, Maisa Frank was finally preparing to begin as an associate at Gray Plant Mooty when she received a startling bit of news. Her start date was being deferred.

It was 2010 and law firms around the nation were still reeling from the market crash of ’08 that had sent shockwaves through the world’s financial system. Like many firms, Gray Plant Mooty didn’t have enough immediate legal work for all of the new associates they had tapped for employment.

“The economy was bad and a lot of firms were really struggling,” recalled Maisa, today a franchise and litigation attorney in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

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Jessica

McCaslin

Growing up in Gary, Minnesota, the third generation of farmers to work the land, Jessica McCaslin took notice of more than soy beans and corn.

“When living on a family farm, you see the progression of the next generation taking over,” said Jessica, a paralegal in Gray Plant Mooty’s Fargo office. “You see assets (such as land, machinery and buildings) that your grandparents have worked for their entire lives being used by your parents and your siblings. I've seen firsthand how complicated this transition can be for everyone.”

Counseling families seeking to transfer assets to future generations is an ideal career for someone passionate about assisting others, says Jessica, who works on trust, estate, and charitable giving matters. “I like helping people. You hear that all the time from people, but it’s really true.”

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Jim

Schroeder

When Jim Schroeder left Gray Plant Mooty in 2008, somehow life just didn’t seem the same.

He had joined the firm a decade earlier, but left the firm to pursue an attractive opportunity with a Twin Cities-based accounting firm that would allow him to manage more people in various departments. He didn’t stay away long.

“I think there is a sense and appreciation of culture and people at Gray Plant that differentiates it from anywhere else,” said Schroeder, who returned to the firm in 2009 after being away just one year.

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John

Mooty

When John Mooty passed away in April 2015 at the age of 92, much was written about his numerous accomplishments: the leadership roles in which he served and his extensive contributions to the legal, business, political, and philanthropic communities in the state of Minnesota. To briefly recap some of those accomplishments: chairman, International Dairy Queen; vice chairman and acting chairman, Minnesota Republican Party; principal, managing officer, Gray Plant Mooty; first attorney named to the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame. The list goes on.

And yet, perhaps unsurprisingly, his son Bruce—also a principal and former managing officer at GPM—sees those accomplishments as secondary. First and foremost, Bruce says, “he was a great dad.” When John’s wife Ginny passed away in 1964, it fell to John to raise his three sons: Bruce, plus brothers David and Chuck Mooty. With John taking on the mantle of single parenthood, the boys quickly came to know their father’s office in the Roanoke Building, where GPM’s attorneys were housed at the time.

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