It might not seem like the most natural transition. Shakespearean actors tired of the low pay are supposed to become designers or teachers, not trial lawyers, right?
Wrong, says Matthew C. Ellis. The Emerson College graduate—who followed his 1998 BFA in acting with a five-year stint in New York—says the progression from acting to litigation was fluid. “Actors are at their best when they’re authentic and believable,” the Seattle-raised Matthew explains. “That’s also what makes a good trial lawyer. … It’s not just being conscious of your voice and trying your best not to bump into the furniture, it’s about telling a story that resonates with people on a gut level.”
Matthew’s conversion from actor to attorney wasn’t immediate. In between acting gigs in New York and Boston, performing mainly Shakespearean clown roles, he worked as a writer at a rock music website in Brooklyn where he interviewed major (and not so major) recording artists. He also worked as a consultant in the marketing group at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in New York City. After a post-September 11th bout of soul searching, he and his modern dancer wife moved to Portland so he could attend law school and she could pursue a career as a high school counselor.
At their home in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Portland, Matthew and his wife, Sonya, spend much of their time trying to get their two toddlers to eat something other than macaroni and cheese while they TiVo Blazers and Timbers games to watch while the kids are asleep.
Secretary, Oregon State Bar Civil Rights Section
Committee Member, MBA Professionalism Committee
Barrister Member, Owen M. Panner American Inn of Court
Co-Chair of Employment Section, Oregon Trial Lawyers Association