The founder of our firm, Jeanne Gale, retired on December 31, 2015, to embark on a second career filled with artistic creativity, a bit of travel, and canine hijinks with her companion Snowey.
In 1998, Jeanne founded the law firm that is now GALE & NIELSEN. Her name then was Jeanne Tunison-Campbell. She subsequently changed her name after marrying the local martial arts instructor and bon vivant Paul Gale.
Jeanne’s idea for this particular type of law firm began many years earlier, in the 1970s, when she worked as a legal secretary for a renowned Santa Rosa Trusts and Estates attorney named George Dilley. George practiced law in an old-world way, seeking to build lifetime relationships with his clients as their family lawyer. His clients would seek not merely his legal counsel, but the wisdom and experience he had accumulated in the real world. When George’s health declined and he retired from law, he urged Jeanne to go to law school.
Jeanne completed her bachelor’s degree in business economics from Sonoma State University and then obtained her juris doctorate from Empire College of Law in Santa Rosa, maintaining full-time jobs throughout her education. During her undergraduate years, Jeanne acted as the executive director for the Sonoma County Bar Association, Sonoma County Legal Referral Service and Sonoma County Legal Aid, and continued to serve as a consultant to these groups as a law student.
During law school, Jeanne was primarily employed as a law clerk for Geary, Shea and O’Donnell in Santa Rosa, California. She spent two years as a half-time clerk for six superior court judges, who nurtured Jeanne’s ambition to become a trial lawyer by directing her into courtrooms where she could she get a first-hand view of the county’s top lawyers at work.
After a few years building a practice in juvenile law, civil law, family law and criminal law, Jeanne became interested in construction litigation, and began representing prime contractors who were building large residential developments around the San Francisco area. In the 1980s, Jeanne built a law firm that ultimately employed more than 20 attorneys between offices in Santa Rosa and San Francisco.
By 1990, though, Jeanne’s husband Don developed health problems that called for a more serene setting. Jeanne and her husband decided to slow down and move to Eureka, California, a town they had admired for its beautiful old homes, spectacular geography and beauty, and less stressful lifestyle. Jeanne accepted a position with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s office and served as a senior felony deputy until 1998, when she started our current firm. Don enjoyed a good quality of life in Eureka until his death in 2005.
Jeanne built her career on the lessons she learned from George Dilley, about the value of loyalty, expertise, and compassion in guiding her relationships with clients. These values are the oxygen of our practice to this day.