Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
In the summer of 2018, Katy Myers Sager accepted a job offer to join the legal department at Tyson Foods Inc.
In a recent interview, she said the preconceived stereotype in her head of being a corporate attorney doesn’t match her experience.
“I had a pretty jaded view of what corporate life would be like at a huge company,” she said. “I was told that I might not like it. That I’d have more control over my life working in private practice.
“My experience has been the opposite. I work with some great people.”
Sager works on a team of five attorneys that forms a shared services team. Specifically, Sager supports real estate issues and procurement contracting. The group supports all corporate offices and some plants throughout the company’s footprint.
The variety of experiences she’s exposed to is an enjoyable part of the work.
“I always feel like learning something new, especially in the practice of law, makes it more interesting to come to work every day,” she said. “It can get boring when you repeat the same thing you do every day. Being able to do that, picking up multiple aspects of the corporation, has been exciting.”
Working as a corporate attorney can be different from working for a smaller company or solo practitioner. Sager has experience doing both.
She graduated with honors in 1999 from the University of Arkansas and earned her law degree in 2002.
In 2008, she went to work for Waco Title Co. as a commercial/underwriting senior counsel, managing the commercial real estate closing division for the largest title company in the state. In 2012, the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recognized her as a Forty Under 40 class member.
Two years later, to prioritize her family, Sager left the company to hang her shingle in downtown Fayetteville, starting Sager Law Firm.
“I had always wanted to step out into a full-time practice on my own,” she said. “Even in the title business, I had a part-time practice that I did on the side. I wasn’t interested in going to a firm.”
Sager said she did some litigation work, but most of her practice focused on real estate work — matters like tax exchanges and estate planning — with some corporate planning for small businesses.
Sager employed two paralegals but took on no partners. She called the experience a success. But when Tyson Foods had an opening for a real estate lawyer, she interviewed and got the job.
“I was enticed by the thought of having a salary and wouldn’t have to balance my own books,” she joked. “It was good timing.”
The opportunity to work at Tyson Foods is a destination job, Sager said.
“I had always wanted to be at Tyson Foods my whole career,” she said. “The guy I work for now went to law school with me, and we’d worked together in a previous life. We have a similar background, and he’d always tell me how much he loves it at Tyson Foods.”
Sager said the environment is conducive to a healthy work-life balance, something not always typical of a large Fortune 100 company. She described the work dynamic among colleagues as supportive of one another, rather than overly competitive.
“We all work hard, but we’re all fair with each other,” she said. “It’s different than I thought it would be.”
Like other professionals, COVID-19 continues to impact Sager’s work. For the most part, she still works from her home in Fayetteville.
“I’ve been [to the Springdale headquarters] a few days, and the whole campus is pretty dead,” she said. “The biggest thing it’s impacted, I think, is how efficient we can be at home. I think it’s been good for the entire company, especially the executives, to see they can trust us when we’re [at home.] We’re still working hard and performing at the same level or better. It’s a big adjustment for a company of that size to accept.”
Sager, who has Type 1 diabetes, volunteers for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.