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Laura Prater Russell owes personal success and family legacy to MSU 

embedded-news-laura-russell.webpWhen Laura Prater Russell (Class of 1998) decided to attend Morehead State University, it was a decision that came easily. Choosing to wear blue and gold meant following in her family's footsteps. Russell would be a third-generation Eagle, with her father, mother, and paternal grandmother all being MSU alums.  

Long before she enrolled in her first semester of classes, Russell knew she wanted to become a lawyer one day. Her grandmother, Lillie Mae Prater (Class of 1949), was a retired teacher with a massive heart for education. She talked with Russell early on about choosing a career that would allow her to advance while making a difference in the lives of others.  

When she came to MSU for her first day of classes, it was day one of the preparation and guidance she needed to prepare herself for a career practicing law. A business major, Russell also took some advanced English classes. She credits the persuasive writing assignments in those classes for helping her to learn to use her words thoughtfully and effectively to make a case.  

"I also credit my accounting and finance classes for preparing me for law school," Russell said. "They were critical in helping me develop reasoning and logic, which are really valuable tools in law."    

It was more than just the content of the classes preparing her for success. The encouragement and support from countless professors, staff, and Delta Gamma sorority sisters also helped her along the way.  

"There were so many wonderful and influential people at MSU that I'm hesitant to name just one," she said. "However, I had two professors – one in accounting and one in finance – both of whom believed that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to if I worked hard and focused. To hear that from non-family members and from people I respected was instrumental in my performance at law school, later as a practicing attorney, and even still today."   

After graduating magna cum laude from MSU with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1998, Russell later earned a Juris Doctor from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. She began practicing family law in the Jefferson County area, where she still works. In her daily work, she not only applies her knowledge but unique qualities that she believes stem from her upbringing in eastern Kentucky and time at MSU: hard work, respect, compassion, and integrity. Working in family law has Russell fulfilling her dream of making a daily difference in the lives of others.  

In 2023, her dream went further when she was appointed a judge's seat in Jefferson County. Still in family law, Russell now goes by Judge Laura P. Russell, 30th Judicial District, Jefferson Circuit Court, Family Division Five. She admits the role is challenging but also vital and gratifying.  

During this promotion, Russell was serving her alma mater on the Morehead State University Board of Regents, a role she was appointed to by Governor Andy Beshear. Though she had to step back from her position on the board to pursue her judgeship, Russell still maintains a solid commitment to seeing MSU succeed.  

"Morehead State is still an amazing place. My service on the board allowed me to reconnect and affirm that MSU has great leadership and is truly one of the best universities in the region," she said. "I am grateful for my experience, and I know I would not be in my position on the bench without my time at MSU. Go Eagles!" 

For more information on how to connect with Eagle alums, contact MSU's Office of Alumni Relations and Development at 606-783-2033, email, or visit


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