Elaine A. Pudlowski says her practice is about helping families cut through the “BS” and come to practical solutions outside the courtroom.
“I think I like seeing people use common sense to solve their problems . . . and I enjoy doing that,” said Pudlowski, whose practice focuses on family law, domestic relations and various issues relating to children. She’s also certified as a family law mediator, and she’s a strong proponent of the benefits of mediation.
Pudlowski attended Washington University in St. Louis, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987 and a law degree in 1993. At that time, she intended to become a public defender after completing a clinic in that office as a student.
But while she waited for a hoped-for job offer from the public defender’s office, she took a job in the interim with attorney and former state Sen. John Schneider. She worked on various cases that included personal injury, workers’ compensation, probate and family law.
“It was one of those trials by fire, and I just kind of started doing it,” she said. “I had some contract work with the [public defender’s office], and by the time they offered me a job I was pretty happy with my [existing] job,” she said. “Through that process I met [attorney] Aaron Dubin, in Clayton. He constantly told me to come and work for [Dubin’s firm].”
Eventually, she did. In October 1997, she visited the office and met other attorneys with the firm, including Leonard Frankel and Mark Rubin.
“I was like, ‘I’ll come out to Clayton for a couple years to see what it was all about.’ Then I was here for 21 years,” she said laughing.
In time, people in the legal community learned that Pudlowski was primarily practicing family law and began referring clients to her, she said.
“At one point I had a really, really, really horrible criminal case and said ‘I just can’t do this anymore,’” Pudlowski said of criminal law. A short time later, she said, she went through training to become a guardian ad litem and never looked back at criminal law. She now works as a court-appointed guardian ad litem representing children under the jurisdiction of both the St. Louis and St. Louis County Circuit Courts.
She also works in Juvenile Court, where she handles adoptions and other matters, and in Probate Court, where she helps families with guardianships and estates. In her family law cases, she represents men, women and children, and she notes that increasingly she and other lawyers are turning toward mediation whenever possible.
“The thing I like about mediation is that you’re able to cut through some of the BS — really try to get them to let their hair down and be a little more honest with each other.”
Away from the office, she and her husband are the parents of four teenage boys.
“I try to do the mom thing when I’m not working and the work thing when I’m not momming — but that doesn’t always work out,” she said.
She also is vice president of the Housing Board of the Washington University Alpha Phi Sorority and a member of St. Margaret of Scotland parish and her neighborhood association board.