LISA K. PLUTO practices with Pluto Legal, PLLC, based in Tyler. She is licensed to practice in Minnesota and Iowa and concentrates in Medical Assistance and Estate Planning. Pluto is a member of the Wealth Counsel, Hennepin County Medical Assistance Committee, Southern Minnesota Estate Planning Council and the MSBA Probate and Trust Law section.
How would you describe your practice?
Pluto Legal is a statewide boutique practice. We practice within a very narrow area of law, estate planning and elder law, but we have a very diverse range of clients. Our clients span farmers/business owners with $5 to $10 million net worth to elder clients entering skilled nursing facilities with very minimal assets.
We travel to all our clients and visit with them in the comfort of their own homes. We are experts in the field of Medical Assistance planning, and not many attorneys specialize in that. If we did not travel to our clients, many would not have access to the level of expertise that we provide.
When we do farm succession planning, it helps to see the land, buildings, machinery and livestock—things that are the foundation of the plan. Traveling assists with the documentation that we need; the majority of what I need to see is located at our clients’ homes. Sometimes I get to meet my client’s entire family.
We never charge for the initial attorney meeting, and almost everything we do is flat fee. We recommend only what is appropriate for the family or situation. If we truly believe that the family is better off not hiring us or if they have adequate planning in place, we advise them of that and we do not take a fee. Our travel is simply a cost of doing business.
We pride ourselves on accessibility and customer service. Every one of our clients has their attorney’s cellular phone number and knows that they can contact us anytime. We view our practice as building relationships with our clients rather than simply a transaction.
What led you to choose a small firm practice?
I have worked for small, medium and large firms. I prefer a small practice where all employees know each other. We are less formal and treat one another as equals. Our firm is very much a family—we care about each other both personally and professionally.
What do you value in your practice?
I value the fact that what we do is about so much more than the money. We help people. At the end of the day, we have a tangible product that produces a positive result. There are very few areas of practice where law firms receive thank you notes from families, but we get at least two every week. We have amazing jobs and amazing clients whom we truly value!
What aspects of your practice are particularly challenging?
Sometimes the distances and hours are challenging. On some days, the attorneys put in 16 hours between driving and appointments. We each travel about 1000 miles every week. But I am not a person who likes being “chained to a desk” all day. I like moving around.
When you face a challenge, what resources are helpful to you?
Our entire team is educated through newsletters, study groups, webinars and continued education seminars. We rely on each other and other experts in our field for collaboration when we need help or have a question.
How is being a bar association member worthwhile?
The bar association allows us to connect with other experts in our areas of practice and to remain informed on recent changes in the law and policies. It also has allowed us to educate other attorneys across the state about Pluto Legal and our areas of practice through the Elder Law Section of the bar and the Medical Assistance Committee study group.
What activities do you enjoy away from work?
I enjoy arts, crafts, sports and family time. Both of my daughters are on traveling basketball teams and my son will be starting baseball this spring.
Where do you see the practice of law heading in the future, particularly for the small firm practitioner?
I think that small firms with concentrated areas of practice are definitely the future of law. Firms will need to emphasize customer service and accessibility to remain at the forefront.