Behrens, Nelson & Knudson has been serving Sonoma County since 1988. But the history of the firm starts back in the early 1950s.
A Petaluma native and Behrens, Nelson & Knudson co-founder, Al Behrens Jr. stopped his Stanford University education one year short when he was called to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. After surviving capture by the German Army and time spent in a POW camp, Al returned to Stanford to enroll in law school. He opened his law practice in Petaluma in the early 1950s, in a corner office of the Herold Building at Kentucky and Washington Streets next to fellow attorney, Clyde Nelson.
Also a Petaluma native, co-founder Clyde Nelson graduated from Petaluma High School in 1942, moving on to the University of California, Berkeley and graduating in 1948. He earned his law degree from the University of California, Hastings School of Law in 1951. Clyde was admitted to practice in California in 1952, and formed a partnership with Al Behrens Jr. and Robert Mackey in 1954, starting the Behrens, Nelson & Mackey firm in its current location at 36 Fifth Street in downtown Petaluma. W. Thom Knudson joined the firm in 1986. The firm changed its name to Behrens, Nelson & Knudson in 1988.
Dedicated to hometown community service, Clyde Nelson started and served on a number of charitable boards and organizations, including the Petaluma School Board and Petaluma Hospital District (Hillcrest Hospital Board.) He was the first President of the Petaluma Educational Foundation, and served as President of the Sonoma County Bar Association in 1964. Clyde also helped establish various social and recreational associations, including the Petaluma Swim Club, the Petaluma Outdoorsmen, and Boy Scouts of America Troop 2.
As a lawyer, Clyde achieved AV peer rating for high ethics, legal competency and integrity in 1972 at the start of the AV program. He was further recognized as one of the first recipients of a certificate of specialization in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust law under the California State Bar Certified Specialist Program in 1990. Clyde Nelson retired from the practice of law in 2014 at the age of 89.
Al Behrens Jr. retired from the practice of law at the age of 80 in 2002. He received a Petaluma Community Recognition Award for his service as volunteer of Meals on Wheels for Petaluma People Services Center for over 10 years. Al continues to volunteer and play bridge.