Ellen attended the University of Wisconsin and graduated in 1980 with distinction with a major in political science. She attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and graduated in 1984 in the top 15% of her graduating class.
After practicing in Madison for one year with a general practice firm, Ellen relocated and became an Assistant State Public Defender in the LaCrosse office where she gained valuable litigation experience for over six years. In 1991, Ellen joined forces with Dan Arndt and Jack Buswell to open the office of Arndt, Buswell & Thorn with offices in Sparta and Bangor.
Currently, Ellen’s practice of law focuses on all aspects of family law, including guardian ad litem work and mediation, and social security disability. Ellen has represented clients in Western Wisconsin before court commissioners and judges and before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Ellen has taught for the UW Law School Lawyering Skills course on many occasions as well as lectured for the UW Extension, the State Public Defender’s Office and the State Bar of Wisconsin. She is the past president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, a current member of the State Public Defender Board and the chair of the Diocese of LaCrosse Sexual Abuse Review Board. She has served on numerous committees in her community and is currently on the Marie W. Heider Center Fine Arts Board and is in her 17th year of coaching high school mock trial.
Ellen lives in West Salem with her husband Mark.