Napa attorney Vince Nelson in his office on Second Street in downtown Napa.

Napa attorney Vince Nelson in his office on Second Street in downtown Napa. A photo that Nelson took of rural mailboxes is to his right. 

Napa attorney Vince Nelson said working in retail during high school and college convinced him that he didn’t want to stay in that field.

“I thought a law degree would open doors to potential career options,” said Nelson.

In law school, he realized that working for a large company or with a big law firm did not seem satisfying.

“I wanted to work in some manner to help people,” said Nelson.

“Focusing my law practice on family law and personal injury has given me the satisfaction of helping guide people through some very difficult times in their lives,” he said.

Nelson has owned his own law practice in Napa for 24 years and has worked in law for 30 years.

1. What was your childhood ambition?

I just wanted to have fun outside with the gang in my neighborhood. Later, working as a teenager, I saw people who were older than me and not happy in their work. That gave me the drive and ambition to get into college and get an education.

2. What was your first job?

My first job was a paper boy in San Bruno. I learned to operate a little business. It was good money for a kid. I was outside walking or riding my bike, throwing papers and listening to (a) little transistor radio.

When I was sixteen, I started work at a department store called Gemco. I worked there for over a decade. The Retail Clerks Union wages and benefits back then helped me work my way through high school and undergraduate school.

3. Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?

On any given day you would get a different answer to this question. Today it would be Neil Young, Thomas Jefferson and Larry David.

4. Who do you most admire in the business world?

I admire Bill Gates and Melinda Gates for their foundation supporting initiatives in education, world health and poverty.

5. What is the biggest challenge the legal industry has faced?

I think the biggest challenge the legal industry faces is one of access. Many people simply don’t have the financial resources to get good legal representation.

Some of the most difficult legal problems I have worked on involved sorting out a situation that could have been avoided if the person involved had some good legal advice to begin with.

Our society needs to put more resources into our court system and legal assistance for those who need it.

6. If you could change one thing about the legal industry, what would it be?

I would like to change the negative perception many people have of attorneys.

I have had countless people come in for a first consultation and start the conversation with something like: “I don’t really like attorneys but…”

Most attorneys I know are conscientious, hardworking middle-class people who deeply care about their clients and are passionate about the cases they work on.

They work hard, wake up at night worried about their clients and genuinely want to solve problems efficiently.

7. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

I am an identical twin.

8. Where does your twin live?

In Carlsbad. He’s the CEO of a large nonprofit.

9. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

I love music and would like to have the time to create and own a small independent internet radio station. I like all kinds of music, jazz, classic R&B and funk…

10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

I am content at home with my partner, Kelly and our dog Beaumont. I love being in her quiet presence and tinkering about with the various chores and projects we have going on in our home.

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Nelson can be reached at 707-259-0228 or ven@venelson.com.


Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.