Santa Rosa attorney Katie Jeffrey wins North Bay Forty Under 40 award

Katherine “Katie” Jeffrey

Age: 34

Attorney, Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP

90 E St., #200, Santa Rosa 95404


Read other profiles of this year's winners.

Responsibilities with your company: I am an associate attorney at Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP.

My primary responsibility at our firm is to provide quality legal advice to our clients, in the areas of trusts and estates, real estate, and business law. On a daily basis, that responsibility requires meeting with clients and their advisors, brainstorming strategies for accomplishing client goals, conducting legal research to ensure action plans conform with and utilize the current state of the law, and drafting the necessary documents to execute on the agreed upon strategy.

This work requires the coordination of the work flow of many different individuals, including engagement with various state and local government agencies - my responsibilities include that project management, thereby ensuring not only an accurate, but also an efficient, result for our clients.

In 25 words or less, how do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty under 40 professional?

I am an ambitious young professional, dedicated to serving my community and performing at the highest caliber in both my professional and personal life. Years with company: 5

Length of time in current position: Five years

Number of companywide employees: 47

Number who report to you: 5

Greatest professional accomplishment: My greatest professional accomplishment, beyond obtaining my law degree, has been finding and securing a position with a law firm, and in a community, that supports me in becoming the best attorney I can be.

Greatest professional challenge: Having two young children, my greatest professional challenge has been balancing my commitment to my career and my clients with my commitment to my family. While there may be no such thing as true balance, I constantly strive to maintain harmony between the two. I feel very lucky to work for a firm, and in a community, that values both family and career in appropriate measure.

Best advice received: I realize the cliché, but truly the best advice I have ever received is to treat others how you would want to be treated.

In my area of practice, I deal primarily with individuals and families, often in times of personal loss and emotional hardship. In counseling my clients, while my primary objective and obligation is to give them good legal advice, I always do my best to couple that with a healthy dose of compassion and understanding.

While a client needs to understand their legal responsibilities and the legal ramifications of their actions, they also need their lawyer to understand the human component of their particular situation. If I were in my client's shoes, or if it was my mother, father, husband, or child in that position, I would absolutely want to have a lawyer who gave common sense advice with a foundation of emotional understanding.

Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: Every January I make a list of my professional goals for the next 12 months. Committing to those goals each and every year provides me with internal accountability to keep pushing my practice forward and advancing my skills as an attorney. I made my list again this past January, and I plan on sticking to it.

What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?

SMT is a law firm that values firm culture second only to quality legal service. As such, our partners are constantly striving to ensure staff and attorneys feel appreciated, and that our office is an enjoyable place to come to work each day. Whether it is through team lunches, a Super Bowl tail gate, Valentine's Day bake-off, or office wide “Olympics”, having fun and enjoying time with co-workers is a central component of life at SMT.

Next professional goal: My ever present professional goal is to provide the highest quality legal advice and service to my clients. Additionally, I plan to continue growing my client base with the hope of ultimately becoming a partner in the firm.

Education: I graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a major in political science and a minor in history. I then went on to law school at the University of San Francisco, graduating magna cum laude with an emphasis in tax law. While working for a boutique law firm in San Francisco, I completed my LL.M. in taxation, with honors, at Golden Gate University.

Hometown: Ojai, California

Community/nonprofit activities: I am currently on the board of the Redwood Empire Estate Planning Council, and involved with the Sonoma County Bar Association, Sonoma County Women in Law, and the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association. I am also active with my son's preschool, and my children's various other community activities.

Katherine “Katie” Jeffrey

Age: 34

Attorney, Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP

90 E St., #200, Santa Rosa 95404


Read other profiles of this year's winners.

Mentor/admired businessperson: I will always be grateful for the mentorship provided to me by one of the partners I worked for at my first law firm out of law school. She was an incredibly smart woman and a very successful attorney - as well as a wonderful mother to her two young children. She emphasized the absolute importance of excellence at work, but never hesitated to put family first when necessary.

She was candid about the fact that the balancing act was hard, and the pressures ever-changing, but that it could be done.

She showed me first hand that with a lot of hard work and resilience, being a mom was in fact the perfect complement to a thriving legal career. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such a fantastic female role model early in my professional career.

What is your most disliked industry buzzword?


Typical day at the office: While no two days are ever the same, I spend most of my time at the office meeting with clients, drafting legal documents, and coming up with strategy proposals to effectively and efficiently accomplish the goals of my clients.

Best place to work outside of your office: At my kitchen table.

Hobbies: Running, reading, and spending time outdoors with my family.

What you wanted to be when you grew up: I grew up riding horses, and always thought I wanted to be a large animal veterinarian. However, once I learned that the sight of blood makes me queasy, I reluctantly changed course.

#1 thing you want to accomplish by the time you turn 40: By the time I am 40, I would like to have obtained the designation of Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law, conferred by the State Bar of California.

First job: My first job was as a camp counselor for the summer camp I had attended growing up.

I spent most of my time at the barn, teaching campers how to ride and care for the horses. It was a great first job, and I ended up working there for five consecutive summers, ultimately being promoted to assistant camp director.

Social media you most use: I am not very active on social media, but I am increasingly learning to utilize Twitter as a source of news and other cutting edge content.

Favorite book: “All the Light we Cannot See,” by Anthony Doerr. It is not a new book, but I only just recently read it. Such a fantastic work of historical fiction!

Favorite movie: I am not much of a movie person, but if you are at our house on a Friday night, you will most certainly be treated to a showing of either “Toy Story” (the original), “The LEGO Batman movie,” or “Frozen.” Out of those three, my vote is always for “Toy Story.”

Favorite App: Spotify. It is so incredible to have a world full of music available on my phone. The days of burning CDs and recording songs off the radio are (happily) long gone.

Favorite after-work drink: Either a kombucha, or a glass of Hanna's sauvignon blanc.

Last vacation: My husband and I took our kids (ages 1 and 3) to Hawaii last year. It was my daughter's first time on a plane, and both kids' first time swimming in the ocean. We made some great memories and are already planning our next family adventure.

What does your mom or dad brag most about you?

Like any good grandparents, my mother and father tend to primarily brag about my children (their grandchildren). If they do get around to talking about me, it is usually to commend my work ethic and commitment to family.

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