Commander & Carlson

Firm Overview

Commander & Carlson is a two-woman law firm with lots of experience in helping clients weather the storms of life! Our inviting offices and personable, professional staff make life better for the clients (and the attorneys, too). Ellen has decades of experience in counseling clients, both individuals and businesses, with financial problems, whether it's debt settlement, foreclosure or bankruptcy! Both Ellen and Mary are experienced family law professionals who are trained in the collaborative process as well as in mediation. We really listen to our clients and demonstrate, over and over again, creative and effective problem-solving tailored to the client's needs.
Main Office
Attorneys & Mediators
5442 Tidewater Dr.
Norfolk  VA  23509
  • (757) 533-5400
  • (757) 533-5155


Free Initial Consultation?
Initial consultations are $250, payable in advance, regardless of how much time that appointment takes.
Services Offered For Fixed Fees?
Bankruptcy fees typically are established, at the end of the initial consultation, by estimating the number of hours a representation is expected to take by the attorney's hourly rate. Court costs vary from $290 to $375. If you retain us at the end of the consult, your consultation fee will be applied to the overall fees and costs quoted.

Other matters typically are billed hourly, with a fee advance expected prior to commencing work.
Hourly Rates
Mary: $350 / Ellen: $300

Office Information

Office Hours
Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Office Manager
Jessica Lemon
Emergency After Hours
Languages Spoken
Bankruptcy, debt settlement and working through foreclosure have become part of the every-day life of so many folks since the banks crashed our economy over 5 years ago.
There are many more tools today than there were back then for assisting clients besieged with credit card debt, mortgage problems and job loss. Contact us for an appointment now to get sensible, compassionate and smart advice on these issues! If your financial issues are related to divorce or separation, you're still in good hands: Ellen Carlson is one of only a few local attorneys with a good working knowledge of the interface between bankruptcy and divorce law and can help you avoid some pitfalls as you move through these tough and emotional times!

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

Ellen decided to focus on bankruptcy law after a visit from a now-sitting bankruptcy judge to a class she was taking in law school. She clerked for the then-lawyer prior to law school graduation and went to work for his practice following graduation. Ellen's goal is to make legal services available to folks who usually are overlooked by our legal system and feel lost when trying to avail themselves of the legal remedies to which they are entitled!

What experience or education distinguishes your lawyers from others?

Ellen has over 27 years of experience in representing debtors, creditors and trustees in bankruptcy matters. A graduate of Wellesley College with a bachelor's degree in political science and a Washington Internship under her belt, she married a Naval Submariner, raised two sons and started a career in real estate sales before dropping out to attend law school at the College of William and Mary, from which she graduated in 1988. She has been self-employed with a series of small practices since then, following a 6-year stint as a creditors' rights attorney in the 90s.

What distinguishes your law firm from others?

We LISTEN to our clients!

Ellen C. Carlson

A native of Massachusetts, where she also attended college, Ellen moved to Washington, DC to work in a congressional office in 1970. A year later, she 'married' the Navy and began moving: Connecticut, Hawaii, Washington State, South Carolina, back to Connecticut, and then, finally, settled in Hampton Roads in 1978. Two years later, she began selling real estate, which she did successfully until 1985, when she returned to school to study law. Ellen's work history since graduation from law school in 1988:

1988-89 Marcus, Santoro & Kozak
1989-95 Kaufman & Canoles
1996-97 Wright & Carlson
1998-2005 Roussos, Langhorne & Carlson
2005-2010 Harbour Law, PLC
2010-present Commander & Carlson, Attorneys & Mediators

Previously certified in mediation by Supreme Court of Virginia and trained in the practice of collaborative law.
  • Bar Number: 28398
    Virginia , 1988
  • Wellesley College
    B.A. Political Science , 1970
  • Marshall-Wythe School of Law (College of William and Mary)
    J.D. , 1988

Mary G. Commander

Mary has over 30 years of experience in family law matters and is known throughout the Commonwealth for her adoption practice. Mary has been a substitute judge and presently sits on the Board of Governors for the Family Law Section of the Virginia State Bar. Mary presently is certified in family mediation by the Supreme Court of Virginia and is trained in collaborative practice.
  • Bar Number: 20811
    Virginia , 1981
  • Old Dominion University
    B.A. History , 1978
  • University of Richmond School of Law
    J.D. , 1981

Ellen Carlson

* Nolo has confirmed that every member attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with the state agency that licenses lawyers. Any past disbarments and suspensions (with possible exceptions for minor violations or nonpayment of dues, in our discretion) will be indicated accordingly in the badge. Member attorneys are required to notify Nolo immediately if they become the subject of any disciplinary action by any state licensing agency.