Powerhouse Reno law firm celebrates 75 years

From left, Tauri Parker, paralegal, Chelsea Latino, partner, Svetlana Sheindlin, staff, Eric Duhon, associate attorney and Katrina Weil, associate attorney in a meeting at McDonald Carano recently.

From left, Tauri Parker, paralegal, Chelsea Latino, partner, Svetlana Sheindlin, staff, Eric Duhon, associate attorney and Katrina Weil, associate attorney in a meeting at McDonald Carano recently. Rob Sabo/NNBW

Matt Addison’s first day at Nevada law firm McDonald Carano back in 1989 is one he’ll never forget.

Founding partner Bob McDonald poked his head into the young summer law clerk’s tiny cubbyhole of an office and said, “I hear you’re Irish. C’mon, let’s go to lunch.”

Addison didn’t get home until midnight that evening. A severe headache and strong aversion to bright lights followed him to work the next morning.

“Bob was a wild one,” Addison told NNBW during an interview over breakfast last week. “He lived all out, and that’s what I loved about him.”

McDonald, who made a name for himself as a fierce fighter pilot flying P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs during World War II, died in 2008. The firm he co-founded celebrates its 75th year in business in 2024. McDonald Carano was originally named Bible and McDonald and was founded in 1949 by former Nevada Deputy Attorney McDonald and former Nevada Attorney General Alan Bible. Don Carano, founder of Eldorado Hotel and Casino, joined the practice in 1962 and was named partner a year later.

McDonald Carano is the only firm for which Addison has worked — he was named partner in 1998 and has been managing partner of McDonald Carano’s Reno office since 2018. The firm employs 75 in Reno, including 26 attorneys, as well as another 65 people in its Las Vegas office, which opened in 1982. The firm also has an office in Carson City.

Addison said one of the main reasons he’s stayed with McDonald Carano for so long is because he was nurtured from the start — a theme that continues to this day.

“I was immediately embraced,” Addison said. “They supported me 100 percent. This firm has always been incredibly generous. I never had to buy into the partnership. It came from sweat equity, loyalty, and being a team player.

“The senior partners at the firm, Larry Hicks, John Frankovich, and John McCune, who was the best construction lawyer in Northern Nevada, were all really good to me,” Addison continued. “They took me under their wing when I was a young lawyer.”

Matt Addison


The majority of attorneys at the firm’s Reno office have deep roots in Northern Nevada — and it’s those long-standing relationships that are at the heart of McDonald Carano’s longevity, Addison said.

“I would say McDonald Carano’s Reno office is 80 to 90 percent native Nevadans,” he said. “A lot of our folks went away to college and law school but decided they wanted to raise their families in Reno, so they came back.

“Having a lawyer working for you is all about trust,” Addison added. “I sometimes have to say some really blunt things to my clients, and sometimes people don’t want to hear that. Starting out with that high level of trust at the beginning is super important.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by the firm’s Las Vegas-based Managing Partner, George Ogilvie.

“McDonald Carano’s founders created an institution that is an integral part of Nevada’s modern history and continues to influence our state’s future,” Ogilvie said. “Our success is based on the culture of commitment established by our founders – a commitment to our clients, to our communities, and to each other. Our 75th anniversary celebrates all the people who built our firm, have sustained it over seven decades, and are leading its future.”

In the seven-plus decades since the firm was founded, McDonald Carano has become Nevada’s premier law firm for nearly every sector of the state’s economy, including business, gaming, entertainment, construction, mining, agriculture, renewable energy, tourism and government affairs. Many former McDonald Carano attorneys are current or former judges, and its litigators are widely regarded as some of the most competent – and fiercest – attorneys in the state.

Addison told NNBW he considers himself the bridge between the first and present generation of McDonald Carano attorneys, as well as the gatekeeper of the corporate culture that’s helped McDonald Carano persevere over the years. Regular lunches and office parties on the patio deck at Museum Tower in downtown Reno, along with frequent visits to Louis Basque Corner, are a nod to the firm’s founders.

“I grew up with all the guys who started this firm,” Addison said. “The profession and practice has changed, and I would like to think I help keep the firm’s original culture alive.

“Modern law firms are becoming island practices without a lot of interaction between lawyers,” he added. “That is tearing apart some very prominent law firms. We are trying to hold that history of culture and bonding together.”

The work-from-home movement that started with the COVID-19 pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse for modern law practices, Addison added. Working from home often provides increased time to focus without interruptions, yet it also can untangle some of the threads that keep law firms tightly woven entities.

“Having people work from home is forcibly tearing the culture and bonding apart,” Addison said. “Many of our attorneys still come to work every day, and that kind of commitment to the firm and to the other partners is what makes us great. I don’t want to sacrifice that.”

McDonald Carano’s two newest partners both have deep Northern Nevada roots and epitomize the culture of the company, Addison noted. Chelsea Latino graduated from Galena High School and University of Nevada, Reno, while Phil Mannelly is a Douglas High School graduate.

“These two represent everything that is great about our firm,” Addison said. “They are old-school in terms of their work ethic, their desire to be in the office and interact with everyone, and for their gratitude for being where they are in their careers. I have never seen two people who are so strong. They are the foundation for the future of this firm, and when I leave, I want Chelsea to take my place as managing partner; that’s how much faith I have in her.”


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