Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 3:39 am | Overcast 64º


Arguably, Litigation Comes Naturally for Attorney Melissa Fassett

The partner with Price, Postel & Parma says she found her calling in the courtroom

Melissa Fassett likes to argue. She makes that admission with a friendly shrug. From an early age, she liked to engage in constructive debate, which pointed logically to the direction of litigation law.

Today, she’s a partner with the venerable Price, Postel & Parma law firm, which has 25 lawyers on staff. She specializes in employment and labor law, business litigation and intellectual property.

Fassett attended the University of New Mexico, in her home state, for her bachelor’s and law degrees. After exploring various disciplines during law school, she found her calling in courtroom process. She describes litigation as puzzle solving.

“I like people — figuring them out and putting the pieces together to accomplish an intended result,” Fassett said.

After practicing for four years in Albuquerque, Fassett hungered for a bigger-city experience. Wanting better weather, more culture and diverse work, she moved to Los Angeles and worked at Morgan, Wenzel & McNicholas for the next six years as an associate attorney handling civil litigation and appeal, including pharmaceutical and product liability, mass tort and medical practice. During that time, she also represented insurance companies and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

In 1993, she said one of her clients, NuSil Technology, persuaded her to come on board full time as corporate counsel. That move brought her to Santa Barbara, where she oversaw the in-house legal department for the next six years. While she enjoyed her time in the city, Fassett said she found Santa Barbara to be a better fit for her overall.

“The collegiality of the Bar community and judges is exceptional here,” she said. “It even makes it easier to work with opposing counsel.”

Fassett moved to Price, Postel & Parma in 1999 and continues as national counsel to NuSil Technology. Founded in 1852, Price, Postel & Parma is recognized as Santa Barbara’s oldest continuous business and California’s oldest law firm.

While the firm is somewhat culturally traditional, Fassett says it represents many clients who require a comprehensive understanding of today’s digital marketplace, and it must navigate a range of estate planning, business, litigation and land-use needs for clients.

Fassett was president of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association for 2009. She’s been on the association’s board of directors since 2005 and the Conference of Delegates, which provides recommendations for legislative changes to the State Bar of California, since 2002. She also served as chairwoman of the Education Committee of the California State Bar’s Business Law Section from 1999 to 2002.

Fassett frequently writes and speaks about employment and workplace issues, and about intellectual property. She is also on the board of directors for the Lobero Theatre.

“It’s my favorite venue,” said Fassett, who is married with grown stepchildren. “They consistently have excellent music and events. The space is unique and feels intimate.”

When Fassett isn’t arguing in the courtroom, she’s giving a fierce fight on the tennis court. Playing singles and doubles, she competes regionally through tournaments organized by the U.S. Tennis Association.

Fassett said her competitive streak carries through in all areas of her life, so tennis is no exception. An outdoors enthusiast, she said she fell in love with Santa Barbara in large part because of its athletic offerings. She regularly rides her bike and hikes Cold Springs Trail.

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of her work.

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