About Laura Carlsen

Laura Carlsen's practice emphasizes a wide range of family law matters in Tacoma and Pierce County including divorce, child custody, military family law, relocations, child support and parenting plan modifications, domestic violence, and family law appeals.

Laura's exceptional skills as a negotiator and litigator developed early through national debate competitions. She was a nationally ranked debater (among the top 100 in the United States, ranking as high as #2) who has given more than a thousand public speeches and competed against the country's top debaters. Since 2008, Laura has used these finely honed abilities to advocate for her client's legal goals at the negotiation table and in the courtroom.

Laura is committed to maintaining the highest standards of client service and professionalism, and she approaches each case with these commitments in mind. "Every client who walks in the door has a different life story, so I never know what the day will bring," says Laura. "Emotions often run high in family law cases, and it is the responsibility of the attorney to strike the right balance between compassion, empathy, and calm objectivity so that we can ultimately achieve the client's goals."

"In family law, we deal with real people who need help resolving very personal problems during a difficult time in their lives. I find out what is important to my client and create a plan to achieve success. A good lawyer must be able to find an angle that helps her maximize results for her client. There is a lot of strategy and detail that goes into a well-prepared case."

Laura comes from a long line of military veterans. She represents many clients in military family law cases, adept in the practice of the unique blend of federal and state law that applies only to military families. She also practices appellate family law, a complex process that allows clients to have the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court review a decision from the lower court in order to achieve a more just result.

"I have been extremely impressed with Laura and her entire staff. She has bent over backwards to do everything I've asked. Her knowledge and expertise and especially her thoroughness in preparing my cases and representing me in all aspects is outstanding. She has handled 3 of my cases and I couldn't have been happier." --Former Client, R.A.

Education & Experience

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Washington State Bar Association, Family Law Section
  • Pierce County Bar Association, Family Law Section
  • King County Bar Association, Family Law Section
  • American Bar Association Family Law Section
  • American bar Association Family Law Section – Military Committee
  • Young Lawyers Association


  • J.D., University of Oregon School of Law
  • Editor, Notes and Comments, Oregon Law Review
  • Tutor, Legal Research and Writing
  • Moot Court: Placed in top tier positions three consecutive years: Negotiations Competition
  • B.A. in Sociology and B.A. in Political Science, University of California at Berkeley

Honors & Awards

Awards and Distinctions

  • Listed as a 2013 Washington Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers®
  • Listed as a 2012 Washington Rising Star by Super Lawyers®
  • Top Tier: Nationally Ranked Debater, Bay Area Urban Debate League

In the Media

Recent Publications and Presentations

  • "Military Moms and Dads: How to Protect the Rights of Deployed Parents," Tacoma-Pierce County Bar News, November 2010
  • "Military Family Law Practice Tips," King County Bar Association CLE, November 2010

In the Community

  • Volunteer, King County Bar Association Legal Clinic

Latest posts by Laura Carlsen

Understanding the Division of Property in Divorce

When a couple decides to divorce, one of their primary tasks is to divide their property (both assets and liabilities). The division of property can be a complex and contentious issue in a divorce. If both parties agree, they can … Read More ›

Why and When You Need a Divorce Lawyer

When a marriage is ending, it can be tremendously difficult to deal with both the emotional trauma and your fears about how life will go on after a divorce. The legal guidelines surrounding divorce lead to additional concerns.  Questions like … Read More ›

Non-Parental Visitation

Under certain circumstances a non-parent, such as a grandparent, may wish to petition the court for visitation rights that are arguably in the child’s best interest. The Washington State legislature passed two statutes–RCW 26.09.240 and RCW 26.10.160(3)–that address this kind … Read More ›