In her own words: Reno attorney Jessica Woelfel |

In her own words: Reno attorney Jessica Woelfel

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company and the duties of your position.

Jessica Woelfel: McDonald Carano Wilson was founded in 1949 and is a statewide law firm with offices in Reno and Las Vegas. The firm employs more than 50 lawyers and professionals and offers a wide range of legal services. I do complex commercial litigation and work with a variety of different clients helping them avoid getting sued in a lot of instances by negotiating deals. If they are in a position where they have been sued or want to sue someone, I help them through that litigation process. About half of my work is in California, working with our Nevada clients who have business dealings or litigation in that state.

NNBW: How did you get into this profession?

Woelfel: I have known since high school that I wanted to be a lawyer. I enjoy a good debate, enjoy writing and enjoy digging into a complex set of facts. This job melds those things together.

NNBW: Where you on your high school debate team?

Woelfel: I wasn’t — When I was younger I actually had a fear of public speaking. But I like to push myself to do the things that scare me, so I did join the competition trial team in law school where we competed against other law schools in mock trials.

NNBW: How did you get over your fear of public speaking, and does it still come into play?

Woelfel:: Not any more. You just have to do it enough to become comfortable with it. Having confidence in your position and in your preparation also helps.

NNBW: What’s do you like most about being an attorney?

Woelfel: I enjoy learning new things and am constantly dealing with differing factual scenarios. I also enjoy how closely I work with my clients, and I like knowing that the work I do has a positive impact on their business.

NNBW: What do you like least about it?

Woelfel: This job does not come without stress. When you are dealing with high stakes, you feel that pressure to succeed. That is not necessarily a dislike; it is just part of the job and keeps me focused on doing high quality work.

NNBW: Do you have one particular case you worked on of which you are most proud?

Woelfel: I am always proud when we have a victory or get a good result for our clients. Right now I am working with a company called Kaia FIT, a franchiser of women-focused health clubs which is selling franchises across the country, and am enjoying helping these women to succeed.

NNBW: Is there a case that stands out as being your most challenging?

Woelfel: They are all challenging in their own way. I try to be really level headed in the way that I approach my work.

NNBW: Your youngest, Stella, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2. How have you managed to keep the balance of work, life, your other kids and keep your sanity?

Woelfel: I am very lucky because I work with great people who have been incredibly supportive. One of the benefits of working for a firm like this is that when something happens, you have people to back you up. When I needed to be out of the office because of Stella’s diagnosis, I had a team ready and available to support me and my clients. Thankfully, things look good for my daughter and we have been able to return, for the most part, to our normal routine.

NNBW: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?

Woelfel: It is a great job, but be prepared to work hard. There are so many different types of lawyers and there is an opportunity to do many different things. You have to enjoy learning, because you will do that with every case you work on. You have to enjoy thinking.

NNBW: What was your first job?

Woelfel: I was a hostess at a restaurant in Lake Havasu City.

NNBW: What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? How do you spend your time away from work?

Woelfel: I spend a lot of time with my three kids. We like to go skiing and hiking — we are very outdoor-oriented.

NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?

Woelfel: A lawyer or a photographer.

NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change?

Woelfel: I might have thrown a little more travel in the mix, but that’s about it.

NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?

Woelfel: Can I semi-retire? I enjoy my job too much to give it up completely, no matter how much money I had.

NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?

Woelfel:: Dave Matthews Band at Harveys in September.

NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?

Woelfel:: With my family somewhere we could mix fun and adventure with relaxation.

NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?

Woelfel: We made a very specific decision to move to northern Nevada from the Bay Area because we wanted a better quality of life for our family. We wanted to do work that involved sophisticated businesses in a place where people also really value family, the community and the outdoors. In our opinion, the best place for all of those things is northern Nevada. It has been so wonderful for my family, and we are really thriving here.

Know someone whose perspective you would like to share with NNBW readers? Email reporter Rob Sabo at or call him at 775-850-2146.