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Jessi Wagner
Jessi Wagner

2021 Up & Coming Attorneys: Jessi Wagner

Jessi Wagner’s first experience with the construction industry came during law school when she traveled to Equatorial Guinea for a summer associate position. A Mitchell Hamline School of Law alum had asked for a summer associate who spoke Spanish, the country’s official language, and who would not be averse to an overseas opportunity.

The international law firm Wagner worked at focused on energy, and as a result she also reviewed engineering, procurement and construction contracts. “I found I really liked the work and I appreciated talking to engineers, and construction folks who really know their craft and have so much pride in what they do,” Wagner said. “That drew my initial interest.”

Today she’s the associate general counsel at McGough Construction Co., joining in 2019 after more than four years at Mortenson. For McGough, Wagner helped develop a stronger set of quality standards and expectations in the company’s subcontract agreements and provides legal assistance in insurance, risk mitigation, business planning and employment law.

“I enjoy reviewing all of the facts and the various bodies of law before putting it together in a conclusive (and hopefully persuasive) argument to advocate for my client’s position,” she said. “Not only is that from a legal perspective, which is now my role as associate general counsel, but also from the vantage point of making informed business decisions.”

Wagner works to promote gender and equity issues both inside McGough and as a volunteer and leader in several legal organizations, including All Square, a Minneapolis nonprofit and restaurant operated by formerly incarcerated people. She’s served on the McGough Women’s Initiative and helped organize events that promote professional development and leadership. She also earned a spot in the Minnesota Women’s Lawyer’s Leadership Institute Program. “It’s important to point out that in the construction industry and in the legal industry the vantage point and the opinions of women are critical,” she said. “And it’s good business.”

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