Our Attorneys

The Van Ness Law Group can assist you in a wide variety of practice areas. We encourage you to browse through our experience and qualifications below.

Varinia Van Ness, Esquire

Varinia Van Ness

Varinia was born in Bogota, Colombia. At age 14, Varinia moved to the United States where she attended middle and high school.

Upon graduating from High School, Varinia attended University of Florida, earning her degree, Cum Laude in Economics in 1988. Thereafter, Varinia lived in Switzerland for 4 months prior to starting her Law School at Stetson. Varinia earned her J.D. degree from Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg in May of 1991.

As a former prosecutor, Varinia worked at the office of the State Attorney in Sarasota, Fl from 1991 to 1998, handling complex criminal cases and trying over 60 jury trials and hundreds of non-jury trials. In her job, Varinia also earned extensive experience in all types of motion practice.

After leaving the Office of the State Attorney, Varinia worked for the Guardian ad Litem program from 1998 to 2001 representing abused and neglected children in dependency court. In 2001 Varinia decided to go into private practice and formed the law firm, formerly known as Van Ness and Van Ness. Now, Van Ness Law Group, P.A. represents clients in the areas of criminal defense, all aspects of Family Law and Foreclosure Defense. Varinia handles exclusively all aspects of criminal defense.

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Melissa Karp Elsbree, Esquire

Melissa Karp Elsbree

Melissa Karp Elsbree has lived in Sarasota since she was 7 years old. After graduating high school, she attended The American University in Washington, D.C., obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice in 1983. Melissa subsequently earned her J.D. degree from Florida State University College of Law in December of 1990, immediately began her law practice in her hometown of Sarasota, and has practiced exclusively in Sarasota since that time.

Formerly a partner of Karp & Karp, P.A., Melissa has longstanding experience in handling complex civil litigation matters, concentrated primarily in the areas of mortgage foreclosure defense, breach of contract, and personal injury. Melissa joined Van Ness Law Group, P.A. as Of Counsel in 2013 to handle civil litigation and foreclosure defense.

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Melissa Conley-Guido, Paralegal

Melissa Conley-Guido

Certified Paralegal

Certification Date: November 1, 2010

Florida Registered Paralegal

Registration Date: July 1, 2009

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Debbie Garcia, Legal Assistant

Debbie Garcia

Assistant to Varinia Van Ness, Esq.

Education: College of the Holy Cross, B.A. - Liberal Arts: Foreign Language Major

Languages: Spanish, Portuguese and English, conversational French

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