Discovery with Sarah Fergusson Chambless

The Manatt associate boldly goes where no corporate and finance attorney has gone before

Published in 2016 Southern California Rising Stars magazine

By Sarah Fergusson Chambless on June 6, 2016


My nickname is … Big Deal. It’s only funny when you consider that I work mostly with startup and scaling tech companies.

My colleagues would be surprised to know that … I am an enthusiastic tabletop gamer and cosplayer. I run a monthly tech networking group where we play Dungeons & Dragons. You would be surprised how many accomplished entrepreneurs secretly love to play Dungeons & Dragons! (OK, maybe not.)

When I was a newbie lawyer I … started practicing corporate law on October 13, 2008, almost one month after Lehman Brothers collapsed. The experience of weathering the Great Recession has shaped my entire perspective. It has also made me very grateful for my firm’s responsible management.

The quality I most like in a lawyer is … a good sense of humor—especially about one’s profession. 

My pretrial routine is … I don’t go to trial, but before negotiations I practice power poses.
“Wonder Woman” is my favorite.

My career high point (so far) has been … teaching elementary school in Compton, which I did between college and law school. Everything has seemed relatively easy after that. I get to sit in a chair all day and talk to adults, most of whom cannot smell fear or lies with the same degree of accuracy as fifth-graders.

The last TV show I binge-watched was … Star Trek: The Next Generation. Netflix has all seven seasons!

If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be … working in the belly of the Starship Enterprise. But seriously, I would probably be COO of a scaling tech company, incubator or accelerator.

My fictional hero is … Winnie the Pooh. So Zen.

My real-life hero is … my mom. She raised me as a single parent while working two jobs and pursuing multiple advanced degrees. She graduated with her MBA the day I graduated from law school. 

The SCOTUS justice I’d like to meet is … Sandra Day O’Connor. 

The SCOTUS decision I’d overturn is … Citizens United.

A different practice area that intrigues me is … maritime law. Because pirates!

My favorite Twitter feed is … Emo Kylo Ren: @KyloR3n.

I can’t believe more people haven’t read … Philip K. Dick.

On weekends I … run every Saturday morning, rain or shine, at 7 a.m. with my marathon-training group. 

The talent I wish I had is … a good poker face. 

I wish I had invented … Velcro. Biomimicry at its best!

If I had a morning show, my co-host would be … Gloria Steinem.

The most annoying thing about my job is … billing hours. This one bears no explanation.

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