McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Most Influential Women: Lori Rook

Ozarks Elder Law LLC

Posted online

Lori Rook is dedicated to protecting the legal interests of one of society’s most vulnerable populations, and her work has yielded expansive growth.

The owner and managing partner of Ozarks Elder Law LLC has led the law firm from one location in Springfield to eight offices in eight southwest Missouri counties. The firm now has six attorneys and 25 team members serving clients with long-term care and estate planning.

“Over the course of the years I have made it my mission to educate this community and our surrounding communities on who we were and to figure out a way to be more accessible to our aging population,” Rook says. “I can honestly say that every single team member cares about our mission and works tirelessly to protect our elderly clients.”

Her practice took on new urgency amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as legal services became difficult to administer with clients staying in their homes. She was part of a group that successfully lobbied the governor and attorney general’s offices to obtain a temporary executive order allowing attorneys statewide to notarize and witness estate planning and necessary health care and long-term care documents virtually.

“Legal documents have to be signed, witnessed and notarized,” Rook says. “I believe the ability to serve clients virtually, not just in Springfield but all over Missouri, has allowed our community members and clients to preserve assets, avoid probate and remain in control should their health fail during the pandemic.”

Rook’s passion is evident to colleagues and friends.

Advertising agency Frank & Maven founder and CEO Brandon Welch, who describes Rook as a “friend and confidant,” has witnessed her leadership in the community.

“She repeatedly answers the call to find new ways to deliver education, guidance and pro-bono legal services to our elder community. She advocates for elders at a state and national level, and she is an innovator in this too-often-overlooked legal space,” Welch says. “Perhaps the most admirable observation of Lori is that despite her endless accolades and accomplishments, she remains grounded, humble and true to her calling.”

Beyond her law practice that serves older adults, Rook in 2019 began serving small and family-owned businesses through a newly launched firm Ozarks Business Law LLC.

She says the firm’s work has a “trickle-down” effect in the community brought on by the impact of small businesses on the economy.

“Over the last two years, we have had the pleasure of helping small-business owners in our community as they transition into retirement through succession planning,” Rook says. “We have also guided business owners as they grow by helping to minimize liabilities and assist with planning ahead.”

Rook, who earned her Juris Doctor from the Oklahoma City University School of Law and has a bachelor’s degree in crime and society from Missouri State University, is a current member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association. She has authored and presented several presentations on elder law, and she’s been involved with Leadership Springfield, Junior League of Springfield and the Better Business Bureau, among other organizations.