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.

More Info

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.

More Info

Betsy Young, Esquire

Betsy Young

Betsy Young graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Florida State University in 1995 and from the Florida State University College of Law in 1999. She began her career as a prosecutor in the Tallahassee, the 2nd Judicial Circuit, and Sarasota, the 12th Judicial Circuit, areas. In the eight years that she was a prosecutor, she handled thousands of felonies, including violent crimes and complex white collar cases. Ms. Young has handled in excess of 150 jury trials. Since entering private practice, Ms. Young has focused her attention on defending clients accused of crimes and fighting for their Constitutional rights. She will now bring that wealth of experience to this firm’s clients.

Ms. Young is also the firm’s family law practitioner. She has navigated out clients through the often overwhelming family court system. Whether you are seeking a divorce or modification to an existing order, Ms. Young can help. She has helped clients with divorces, child support issues and adoptions.

Ms. Young was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. As a native Floridian with deep ties to the area, Ms. Young is passionate about helping our local community. She has been active in numerous civic organizations including parent-teacher organizations and criminal defense associations.

More Info

Melissa Conley-Guido, Paralegal

Melissa Conley-Guido

Certified Paralegal

Certification Date: November 1, 2010

Florida Registered Paralegal

Registration Date: July 1, 2009

More Info

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

More Info