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Laurie Hanson

Of Counsel - Retired
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5775 W Wayzata Blvd #700
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55416

Laurie Hanson practiced law from 1984-2024 with a special focus on individuals who are aging or living with disabilities – and their families. While at Northwoods Law Group, she concentrated her practice exclusively in the areas of Elder and Special Needs law including Medical Assistance, SSI, and various veterans benefits; trusts- supplemental needs, special needs and pooled trusts, trust and public benefit litigation; estate planning, planning for incapacity; probate, and surrogate decision-making. In 2021, she won a significant case involving special needs pooled trusts before the Minnesota Supreme Court, Pfoser v. Harpstead.

Laurie regularly served as faculty and made presentations on elder law and special needs topics at continuing legal education courses for attorneys nationally and in Minnesota, In addition, she gave many presentations to nursing home family councils, church groups, community groups, and at law schools in the Twin Cities.

Professional Background

Laurie is a 1977 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a 1984 Graduate of Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, California where she was a member of the law review and Editor-in-Chief of the Women’s Law Forum. Over the past 40 years, she practiced law in Minnesota and Arkansas, with a focus on those who are aging and living with disabilities. Prior to founding Northwoods Law Group in 2021, she was a shareholder with the law firm of Long, Reher, Hanson, & Price, PA for 18 years in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Prior to that, she was with the Senior Law Project of the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis for 15 years.

Before moving back to Minnesota in 1989, Laurie had a private general practice in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she specialized in health law and family law. She was a Reginald Heber Smith fellow her first two years following law school and worked with Ozark Legal Services in Fayetteville.

Professional Associations

Throughout her professional career, Laurie was a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Minnesota State Bar Association, and the Hennepin County Bar Association. She is a past Chair of the Elder Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA), and an emerita member of the Board of Trustees of the Upper Midwest chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She was a member and past board member of the Special Needs Alliance, a national invitation-only non-profit organization committed to helping individuals with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who represent them.

Professional Awards

Laurie received the 2003 NAELA Theresa award for outstanding community service and advocacy on behalf of people with special needs. She was also inducted into the MSBA Elder Law Section Hall of Fame on October 6, 2023, and received a special recognition award for her work on the Pfoser case. In 2008, she received the prestigious Mary Alice Gooderl Award from the Elder Law Section of the MSBA for her contribution to the practice of Elder Law in Minnesota and has been named a Super Lawyer by her peers consistently between 2001 and 2024.


In retirement, Laurie and her spouse Kim Dayton split their time between their home at the end of the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota and an apartment in Uptown Minneapolis – enjoying truly the best of urban life and the serenity and peacefulness of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. They have two Pudelpointers, Arlo and Bob, who keep them young! Laurie knits, is learning to play the harmonica, walks a few miles every day, and enjoys all types of music.


J.D., Golden Gate University School of Law, 1984

University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1977

Professional & Bar Association Memberships

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Minnesota State Bar Association

Hennepin County Bar Association

Special Needs Alliance

Client Reviews
"Thank you for your continued help. You all seem to be the only place I can go for answers." K.C.
"I think the world of Laura Z-as a lawyer with incredible expertise and knowledge and as a wonderful human being. I couldn't rate her any higher!" N.B.K.
"Working with Laura has made all the difference for our family! She's helped us navigate some complex situations with expertise and care. We couldn't have gotten through all of this without her help. We will continue to work with her as family needs arise in the future." B.M.
"We are so grateful to Laura for her responsiveness, thoroughness and extensive knowledge of the law. She has helped us immensely in our family estate planning. We especially appreciate how she listened to our particular needs and found creative solutions to our situation." D.B.
"Laura Zdychnec has been wonderful to work with. Her vast experience and reliable advice were indispensable in setting up my trust account and navigating the legal shoals involved. Laura came highly recommended by my close friend Frances Long, a founder of the former firm." S.R.