Born in Edinburgh, Laurie started his playing career in Fife as a defender with Raith Rovers. He joined the Kirkcaldy club from Edinburgh amateur side Links United and went on to play over 300 games for them in three spells there.
After signing for Raith in 1998, he made his debut towards the end of that year against Morton. It was two years later when he scored his first competitive goal against Ayr United. This was his only goal for Raith in his first spell there, a period in which he played 90 games between 1998 and 2003.
In the summer of 2003 Ellis left to sign for St Mirren and he made his debut soon after against Queens Park in August that year. After two seasons in Paisley and at the expiration of his contract, Laurie returned to Raith Rovers. This time round it was a brief stay in Kirkcaldy, playing 35 games during the 2005-06 season before moving again, this time to Cowdenbeath. He spent a year at Central Park, followed by a season at Stirling Albion before returning for a third time to Starks Park.
Laurie remained at Raith Rovers from May 2008 until his move to Dundee United. During that time he went on to play over 200 games for the Kirkcaldy side. In July 2012, Ellis also took up the position as first team coach and continued as a player.
At the end of season 2015-16, Dundee United announced the appointment of Laurie Ellis as Assistant Manager on a three-year contract. Laurie followed Ray McKinnon from Raith Rovers where he had performed a similar role.