“I had written a couple wills at my firm in
Chicago, but I thought it was dead people
stuff. Then right when my husband got his
new job in Minnesota”—a legal position at
Cargill—“my mother passed away. When my
mom died, our family met with the lawyers,
and there were many issues that could have
easily broke us apart. If we had fought over
the estate, they figured we’d lawyer up. But
we didn’t. It made me think that I could do
this type of work; I’d be good at it. You could
help families not break apart,” she says.
So Link ended up relocating her practice
area as well as her residence. Before she
moved, she did some reconnaissance work
on Minnesota firms with estate-planning
practices. It helped that her husband’s
father was David T. Link, then dean at Notre
Dame Law School, who would later become
the dean at St. Thomas. Reluctant to ask
him directly, Link called up her mother-in-law instead.
“She said there was a visiting professor at
Notre Dame who worked at a little bank in
Minneapolis—the little bank was Norwest—
who I should meet. We went to lunch and I
told her I was interested in estate planning
law, and she gave me a list of the 12 firms to
contact. That’s how I ended up at Popham
Haik in 1994,” she says.
After Popham Haik folded in 1996, she
moved to Maslon, where she has been since.
ESTATE PLANNING LIGHTS LINK UP
like a jukebox.
“It does give me a lot of satisfaction. It’s a
bit like being a psychiatrist, a bit like being a
family counselor. It’s cool. It really is,” she says.
“She’s a whirlwind of positive energy,”
says retired Hennepin County Judge Thor
Anderson. “She’s very good at dealing
with people who are doubtful and
puzzled and scared. She reassures them.
People need that.”
The only time she isn’t smiley about the
work is when she’s explaining its importance.
“Our goal is to make sure the family stays
together,” she says. “We’re asked to meet with
people during the darkest point in their lives,
and that’s a great responsibility. We want to
help them get through and not turn on each
other. If you can do that, it’s a good feeling.”
Pro bono estate planning work at a
large firm can be tricky, Link says. Some
in the legal community can perceive it as
taking business away from small firms
or solo practitioners, and no one in polite
Minnesota wants to do that.
To hear Link tell it, she didn’t do much
of it in the first two decades of her career;
but she felt moved when, in 2006, she read
about the work of the organization Wills For
Heroes, which was created to help 9/11 first
responders put estate documents in place.
“I read that 90 percent of them had
no wills, and it turns out that most
emergency responders haven’t drafted
a will, either. I thought, I can write a will
in my sleep. This is an area where I can
help. We should do this here,” she says.
Link and a group of others with
the Minnesota State Bar Association
offered to set it up. The Bar supported
her, establishing the group through its
probate and trust section and named