PRESS: ABA Perspectives magazine

I received a surprise call from a writer for the American Bar Association recently. That conversation lead to an article which appears in the ABA’s Perspectives magazine. It is always interesting to me to see how people shape their lives and careers. The portion of the article about me is copied below, but I encourage people to read the complete article here.

MelissaSayer (5 of 6)

Have you ever made an offer on a 23-acre citrus and avocado ranch as a lark, fully expecting rejection? And then your offer was accepted?

“I thought, ‘I guess we’re doing this!’” recalls Melissa Sayer, who fell into ranching exactly that way. She operates a general business law practice in Ventura, California, and then heads home to her ranch.

“My husband’s family has been in agriculture since the 1800s, and he always wanted to go back to it,” she says.

When the couple made the offer on the ranch, Sayer was figuring out whether to stay on a partner track at a Palo Alto, California, firm.

“I figure it turned out the way it was supposed to,” she says. “I think I’m a better lawyer because I have another business. And I have a much closer connection to my clients than I did in the Bay Area.”

She’s also more connected to her community. There’s a farm lab at the ranch for school-age kids, and California State University sends its students out for hands-on learning as the Sayers experiment with various grains. That can lead to unexpected outcomes, like a partnership with a distillery making moonshine with the Sayers’ experimental sugar beets.

“This was a really good move,” Sayer concludes. “I feel much more centered. It’s twice as much work, but I’m much happier.”

The right tool for the job

As a lawyer who spent several formative years at the beginning of my career in Silicon Valley, I have always been eager to use technology to make my job easier and more efficient. When I founded Matilija Law, making the best possible use of available software and hardware was a priority, and after nearly a year, I am happy to say that decision has been good for both my firm and my clients.

20170922_125213But I found myself missing one piece of office technology that I didn’t expect: a typewriter. Typewriters has already been pushed to the sidelines by the time I began my practice, but there was always one ticked away anywhere I have ever worked. Certain jobs, especially completing government forms, we’re designed for a typewriter years ago and the typewriter remains the right took for the job today.

So now the dual monitor displays, high speed scanner, laser printers, and VOIP phone system have a new teammate: a 1960’s vintage manual typewriter. The cool Mid-century design and cheerful yellow hue (matching my Matilija poppy corporate colors) makes a great addition to my workspace.

I’m almost looking forward to filling out a form.

Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards

Recently, I attended an awards dinner hosted by the Santa Barbara based Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation. I do not think I have ever come across a more aptly named organization. A 501(c)3, they host the awards dinner as a fundraising event to provide scholarships to high-school and college student entrepreneurs. It was an inspiring evening. In my line of work, I am used to meeting people who have tremendous grit and big dreams, but to have so many in one room was a real treat.