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Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Meet Melitta Drechsler: ‘Being a business lawyer means thinking like a business person’

MELITTA DRECHSLER (formerly Melitta George) is an assistant Ramsey County attorney in the office’s Civil Division. She drafts, reviews, and negotiates Ramsey County’s high-dollar-value procurement contracts. Melitta is currently the president-elect of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association. Prior to joining the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, Melitta was corporate counsel for Taylor Corporation in Mankato and an associate in the business law section of Briggs and Morgan. She graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 2008.  She is married to Joseph Drechsler and they are parents of a young son. 

Tell us about your background in music and what made you decide to go to law school.

When I was in high school, I realized I wanted to spend all of my time making classical music and being in the music industry. I play piano and violin, and I decided then to major in piano performance. I knew I wanted to use my musical training to work as an arts administrator and orchestra manager. I worked for a few years, first as artistic administrative assistant with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and then as general manager of the local Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, while also freelancing as a pianist and piano teacher. Those were great experiences, but I came to feel that I had reached my highest potential in the field and that I would be happier as a supporter of the arts but in a different profession.

I like to read and learn new things, so law seemed like a good fit. I am glad I made the switch because I enjoy the
legal profession.

What do you do as an assistant county attorney for Ramsey County?

I work in the Civil Division of the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. I am the primary lawyer for several county departments: Information Services, Emergency Communications, and Workforce Solutions. I assist these and other county departments to draft, review and negotiate contracts with vendors. For example, I assisted the Ramsey County Elections Office with the purchase of all new elections equipment in advance of the 2016 election. I have worked on a number of cloud-computing and software-as-a-service contracts. In addition, I provide general advice on any legal questions that arise for my departments and confer with my colleagues on specialized legal issues such as human resources and real estate.

What led you into public sector employment after beginning in the private sector?

I was attracted by this opportunity to be a full-time business lawyer who serves the public. I assist county departments with complicated transactions for critical services and equipment to help all residents of Ramsey County. I find that very satisfying personally and professionally.

What aspects of your work are particularly challenging and how do you meet those challenges?

Being a business lawyer means thinking like a business person at all times. I am constantly pushing myself to make sure I keep the business objective in mind whenever I work on a transaction. I advise my client on legal risks, but also assist them to weigh those risks along with their business goals. Cloud-computing applications require putting data in the cloud—do the risks of a data breach outweigh the costs savings of less hardware needed to run a department’s software application?

You currently serve as president-elect of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association. Would you tell us about your experiences with MNAPABA and what you hope to accomplish as president?

I’ve been involved with MNAPABA since law school. I have been chair of MNAPABA’s awards committees, which nominates our members for local, state, and national awards. I enjoy getting to know other lawyers and law students who share similar cultures and who can empathize about challenges in the profession. As president, I plan to continue the outstanding work done by recent leaders of this bar as well as start a focus on voting rights. Our national bar association has raised concerns over the erosion of voting rights in the United States. I think voting rights are fundamental to our democracy and want to turn our members’ attention to these issues.

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