In May 2013, Jenna Peterson graduated from law school.
A little more than four years later she was appointed by the Redwood County board to serve as its county attorney.
Peterson, who is originally from St. James and is a Hastings high school graduate, began pursuit of her law degree at the College of St. Benedict. However, when she started her post-secondary education she did not know that was the path she would be taking.
“I started out with plans to be a doctor,” said Peterson, adding, however, she soon discovered that was not in her future.
Exposure to the law during one of her college classes helped her determine her strengths and interests were in that area, and so she pursued degrees in political science and history with the intent of moving on to law school following her graduation.
Along the way, Peterson has gained varied experiences, including serving as an intern for a public defender service in Washington, D.C. and serving as a case manager for a law firm in Minneapolis where she worked on patent portfolios for what she called some big name companies.
Following law school, Peterson ended up closer to her hometown as a law clerk in Redwood County.
Peterson said she started working in Redwood County in 2013 as a law clerk for Judge Patrick Rohland who had just recently started his time serving on the bench.
“We started our first days together,” said Peterson.
In 2014, Peterson moved on from her role as law clerk to the attorney’s office in Redwood County where she served as an assistant attorney under Steven Collins.
For Peterson, moving into the county attorney’s office provided her the opportunity to gain experience in various areas of the law, including work on prosecution of criminal cases.
“I love being in the courtroom,” said Peterson, adding she really feels this is where she is supposed to be.
In her role as county attorney, Peterson said her scope of work has expanded, as she is not only continuing to work on the prosecution of cases she also now oversees the staff in the county attorney’s office and handles the big picture tasks for the office.
Peterson said the role of the county attorney is not only to prosecute all of the felony-level cases in the county, as well as all crimes that occur outside of the City of Redwood Falls, she also serves as an advisor for other county departments working on everything from review of contracts to child support cases.
For Peterson stepping into the role of county attorney was the next natural step, adding she recognizes there is a lot she has to learn.
“I know I have a lot more to digest as county attorney,” said Peterson, adding those tasks have been made much easier by the people she has worked with in the county. “Everyone has been incredibly supportive and helpful.”
Having grown up on a dairy farm, Peterson said she knows the meaning of hard work.
“I understand what it means to do the job until it’s done,” said Peterson. “There is no task that I am not willing to take on in this job.”
In the end, Peterson recognized her role as county attorney is about helping to make Redwood County a safe place to live by effectively and efficiently ensuring public safety for those who call this area their home.
Peterson and her husband, Eric, who is originally from Tracy, have a dog named Bentley.
In her spare time, Peterson said she enjoys working out and playing volleyball, adding it is nice to have things to do that can provide a break from the day to day challenges in the office of the county attorney.
Peterson is filling out the remainder of the current term as county attorney, which ends Dec. 31, 2018.