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Even before the formation of the firm, the name Woodburn was an important part of Nevada’s early development. William Woodburn, father of the firm’s founder, then residing in Virginia City, Nevada, served in the United States Congress in 1868 and again in 1872. In 1918, George Thatcher was winding up his term as Nevada Attorney General and William Woodburn, Sr. was retiring as the Washoe County District Attorney. Frank Norcross invited them to join him in law practice in Reno. Norcross was then chief attorney for banker George Wingfield, Sr., and the new firm of Thatcher and Woodburn opened offices in Wingfield’s bank building, still standing at Second and Virginia Streets.
In its infancy, Thatcher and Woodburn practiced all areas of law with particular emphasis on mining law, real estate law, water law, corporate law, wills, estates and probates, and general litigation. These areas of practice still form the core of Woodburn and Wedge’s practice, but as the firm grew, so did its areas of practice and specialization. Today, with eighteen lawyers and a support staff of twenty, Woodburn and Wedge is located in the Sierra Plaza in south Reno. The firm continues to be a general practice firm which has developed a strong corporate, business and litigation practice with a strong and broad base of clients including commercial investment firms, national consumer and commercial finance companies, national and local banks, credit unions, real estate development companies, mining companies, utilities (public and private), small and medium-sized businesses, law firms, accounting firms, engineering firms, public agencies and individuals. Although Woodburn and Wedge maintains a general law practice, its attorneys concentrate on litigation, insurance coverage opinions and disputes, corporate law, corporate securities and finance, commercial law, real estate law, water law, representation of property management and homeowners' associations, environmental law, bankruptcy, utility law, and public and private land use law. The firm also has broad experience in administrative law, estate planning, probate and tax law.
With nearly 100 years under its belt, the firm has had many notable successes and moments of distinction, too numerous to detail here. A few examples deserve mention, however. In the early 1980’s, Woodurn and Wedge (then Woodburn, Wedge, Blakey and Jeppson) enjoyed the unusual distinction of being awarded a contract to provide legal services to the United States Air Force. The services involved advising the Air Force on environmental, water and land use law in connection with a missile system planned for rural Nevada. In 1989 the firm successfully defended the rock band Judas Priest and CBS Records in a wrongful death action brought by the survivors of two individuals who committed suicide after a long evening of drugs, drinking and listening to music. The case involved important first amendment freedom of speech issues. In 2003, the firm was part of a small team of lawyers responsible for obtaining the 16th largest jury award in the United States in 2003 ($136,900.000) in a fraud action involving a copper mine near Tonopah, Nevada.