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LAW COACHING: STRATEGIC GUIDANCE FOR LAWYERS By Sue Bjorkman, March 2020

       The practice of law is a difficult but rewarding endeavor. But somewhere along the way many lawyers face some obstacles on their path to success. Overcoming difficulties need not be a solitary endeavor, however. Having a Law Coach can do wonders toward helping you solve problems that hold you back, while easing the frustrations and anxiety that come with it.   

       “Most lawyers are very smart and hardworking, with the aptitude and potential to be successful--but they are dealing with some kind of obstacle,” says Law Coach Ann Woodley. An attorney for 9 years and a Law Professor for 28, Woodley is now focusing her professional passions on helping lawyers thrive in all aspects of their careers – and lives. “I believe that every person has the ability to grow and change in order to become successful.” 

         Sometimes the problem isn’t clear to the lawyer; they just know things aren’t working and they aren’t achieving their goals. So, Woodley’s Law Career Coaching business covers both professional and personal aspects. Professionally, she guides her lawyer clients through helping them find their initial full-time attorney positions, career planning, and making transitions (including job applications, resumes, cover letters, mock interviews, etc.), as well as dealing with challenges on the job such as ethical issues, conflicts, and dealing with difficult people.   

        In one recent coaching example, Woodley helped a lawyer prepare for a scheduled interview. Given her client’s prior place of employment and the nature of the job he was applying for, she anticipated that a very specific, somewhat delicate question might be asked in the interview. Woodley spent a fair amount of time with her client coming up with an honest and positive way for him to respond to that question. During the interview the question was, in fact, asked—and the conversation went extremely well.

         Woodley also offers coaching on personal attributes since becoming a successful lawyer involves knowledge of, and experience with, emotional intelligence (EQ), conflict resolution, grit, confidence, public speaking, networking (including elevator speeches), goal setting, organization, time-management, stress management, etc. “It can be extremely beneficial to spend an hour or two of coaching to work on overcoming obstacles (or a lack of knowledge or experience) in one or more of these areas,” Woodley says. “And contrary to public belief, lawyers can improve in each of these areas with the proper guidance, practice, and accountability,” she adds.  

         “For example, many people just haven’t learned to network or sell themselves. It’s not something they really learn in law school, but there is definitely an art to it,” says Woodley. Individual coaching can help a client become more confident and figure out what’s unique and special about themselves and how to convey that quickly. 

          EQ plays a key role in a lawyer’s development, too. This involves communication skills and handling emotions when dealing with supervisors, staff, co-workers, clients, opposing counsel, opposing parties, judges, court staff, mediators, etc.  “Your ability to get along with others and handle conflict is tremendously important to your success,” she says. “EQ is a skill that can be learned but is not necessarily innate. You can literally change your brain to help you communicate and deal with others better. I have helped many people with this,” says Woodley.  

          And it is not just lawyers at the beginning of their careers who face challenges. Even lawyers in later years of practice can encounter obstacles when starting new jobs, changing their types of responsibilities, making career transitions, or in dealing with personal situations on the job. (Note that Woodley has helped professionals in other fields as well.)

         Law coaching also need not be an expensive or inconvenient process. First, the time needed to deal with these issues is not necessarily substantial. “I have spent thousands of hours mentoring students and young lawyers. Because of that depth of experience, I can quickly identify the issue and help my client identify some ways to address it. It doesn’t have to be long-term,” says Woodley.  “It is possible for significant results to be achieved in a couple of hours,” she adds. “For example, I can review your resume and cover letter and do a mock interview and this small investment of time can make a huge difference between getting that dream job and still looking.”  

        In addition, coaching sessions can take place via phone or Skype if so desired—thus eliminating travel time and allowing access from anywhere in the country.

       So why hire a Law Coach rather than just asking supervisors, colleagues, or friends for advice?

        “While having mentors in the profession can certainly help with some issues, it’s often better to have an unbiased, confidential, outside source of guidance, support and accountability,” Woodley states. She adds: “When you just ask colleagues or friends for advice, they may not be honest with you, in trying to be nice. I am diplomatic but honest. And I care. Deeply.”

         “Accountability also plays a big role. People often don’t achieve their goals because, while they create them, they don’t follow through. I help you come up with your goals and I can help you stick to them,” says Woodley.

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         “A lot of the stuff is small. But it’s a barrier. You don’t have to stumble along,” says Woodley. “Think about a coach with a sports team. No one would argue that a talented, knowledgeable athlete (or team of athletes) has no use for a coach. A coach wants you to be better. A coach offers you guidance. A coach holds you accountable. A coach offers you support.  And a coach helps take you to that next level of success.” 

         Woodley adds, “While hiring a Law Coach may be an expense you didn’t anticipate, it’s an investment in your future.” And she offers an initial consultation at no charge so that your introduction to coaching will be worry-free.

         “To me, there’s no greater professional thrill than to see someone become the best version of themselves. It is incredibly gratifying to have a part in this. It also feels like I’m paying back. I’m passing it on,” says Woodley.

          For more information, contact Ann Woodley, Esq., M.C.L.C. (Master Certified Life Coach) at:

--(website) www.lawcareercoaching.com

--(e-mail) awoodley@lawcareercoaching.com

--(cell phone) (480) 227-5776

LAW COACHING: STRATEGIC GUIDANCE FOR LAW STUDENTS AND BAR-SITTERS By Sue Bjorkman, March 2020

       Most law students encounter one or more obstacles to success during their law school career. Law school—with its multiple facets—is an extremely difficult endeavor and being smart and a hard worker often is not enough. Overcoming difficulties need not be a solitary endeavor, however. Having a Law Coach can do wonders toward helping you solve problems that hold you back, while easing the frustrations and anxiety that come with it. 

      “Most law students have the aptitude and potential to be successful--but they are dealing with some kind of obstacle,” says Law Coach Ann Woodley. An attorney for 9 years and a Law Professor for 28, Woodley is now focusing her professional passions on helping law students and bar-sitters thrive in all aspects of their careers – and lives. “I believe that every person has the ability to grow and change in order to become successful.” 

        Sometimes the problem isn’t clear to the law student or bar-sitter; they just know things aren’t working and they aren’t achieving their goals. So, Woodley’s Law Career Coaching business covers academic, professional, and personal aspects.

        The first area in which Woodley provides strategic guidance through coaching is the academic. Although there are many sources of assistance available in law school (including your professors, your fellow students, academic success professionals, supplemental study materials, etc.), having a very experienced Law Coach work with you on things like IRAC, writing essays, answering MBE questions, and working on papers (if such assistance is permitted by the professor) can make a huge difference. “Having a coach is not the same thing as having a tutor. It’s more ‘big picture,” Woodley says. A Law Coach can quickly point out your areas for improvement in the analytical process and provide detailed feedback. A Law Coach can also (where appropriate under the school rules) assist with preparation for an oral argument or a moot court or trial team performance. 

         The second area in which Woodley provides coaching to law students is the professional. Woodley states, “By this, I mean things like applying for externships, internships, or summer jobs (including resumes, cover letters, mock interviews, etc.), networking (including elevator speeches), and trying to determine in what areas of law to focus.” 

         “I had a law student who was at the top of her class at a very good school. She got all kinds of first interviews for attorney jobs but not a single call-back. We did a mock interview and during it I noticed on her resume that she started a Ph.D. program but did not finish it. I asked her why and she immediately started trashing the PhD committee—which was from the same University as where she was attending law school. I immediately stopped the mock interview and explained to her why it is never a good idea to do this kind of thing. And we talked about more positive ways to explain why she didn’t finish the degree. After our mock interview she went to her next real interview and got the job. She showed up the next day with a bouquet of flowers for me. She was thrilled. She deserved the job; she just didn’t know what to say in interviews about that particular situation,” Woodley says. 

        Woodley also recently helped a student seeking transfer admission carefully craft an honest, but compelling, story of her difficult path to becoming a lawyer—and within a week she was accepted by that school.

        The third area in which Woodley offers coaching services is the personal realm. Becoming a successful law student (and lawyer) involves knowledge of, and experience with, emotional intelligence (EQ), conflict resolution, grit, confidence, public speaking, networking (including elevator speeches), goal setting, organization, time-management, stress management, etc. “It can be extremely beneficial to spend an hour or two working to overcome obstacles (or lack of knowledge or experience) in one or more of these areas,” Woodley says. “And contrary to public belief, students can improve in each of these areas with the proper guidance, practice, and accountability,” she adds.

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        “For example, many people just haven’t learned to network or sell themselves. It’s not something they really learn in law school, but there is definitely an art to it,” says Woodley. Individual coaching can help a client become more confident and figure out what’s unique and special about themselves and how to convey that quickly. 

         EQ plays a key role in a law student’s development, too. This involves communication skills and handling emotions when dealing with professors, classmates, law school employees, internship or externship supervisors, clinic clients and opposing counsel, etc.  “Your ability to get along with others and handle conflict is tremendously important to your success. It’s important now in your interactions during law school and becomes even more so later as you enter into law practice,” she says. “EQ is a skill that can be learned but is not necessarily innate. You can literally change your brain to help you communicate and deal with others better. I have helped many people with this,” says Woodley. (Note that Woodley has helped students in other fields as well.)

         These three areas of potential assistance also apply to recent law school graduates who are studying for the bar. Woodley offers academic assistance in terms of helping to improve the quality of practice bar essays and MPTs (multi-state performance tests), and in analyzing practice MBE questions. In terms of professional aspects, Woodley has assisted bar-sitters with the phrasing of answers to Character & Fitness Application questions, among other things. Finally, she can help with the personal issues that frequently arise frequently during the bar prep process—such as goal setting, organization, time-management, confidence, and stress management. 

         Law Coaching also need not be an expensive or inconvenient process. First, the time needed to deal with these issues is not necessarily substantial. “I have spent thousands of hours mentoring students and young lawyers. Because of that depth of experience, I can quickly identify the issue and help my client identify some ways to address it. It doesn’t have to be long-term,” says Woodley. “It is possible for significant results to be achieved in a couple of hours,” she adds. “For example, I can review your resume and cover letter and do a mock interview and this small investment of time can make a huge difference between getting that dream job and still looking.”

      In addition, coaching sessions can take place via phone or Skype if so desired—thus eliminating travel time and allowing access from anywhere in the country.

       So why hire a Law Coach rather than just asking professors, upperclassman, or friends for advice?

“While having mentors in the profession can certainly help with some issues, it’s often better to have an unbiased, confidential, outside source of guidance, support and accountability,” Woodley states. She adds: “When you just ask colleagues or friends for advice, they may not be honest with you, in trying to be nice. I am diplomatic but honest. And I care. Deeply.”

       “Accountability also plays a big role. People often don’t achieve their goals because, while they create them, they don’t follow through. I can help you come up with your goals and I can help you stick to them,” says Woodley.

        “A lot of the stuff is small. But it’s a barrier. You don’t have to stumble along,” says Woodley. “Think about a coach with a sports team. No one would argue that a talented, knowledgeable athlete (or team of athletes) has no use for a coach. A coach wants you to be better. A coach offers you guidance. A coach holds you accountable. A coach offers you support.  And a coach helps take you to that next level of success.” 

Woodley adds, “While hiring a coach may be an expense you didn’t anticipate, it’s an investment in your future.” And she offers an initial consultation at no charge so that your introduction to coaching will be worry-free.

        “To me, there’s no greater professional thrill than to see someone become the best version of themselves. It is incredibly gratifying to have a part in this. It also feels like I’m paying back. I’m passing it on,” says Woodley.

For more information, contact Ann Woodley, Esq., M.C.L.C. (Master Certified Life Coach) at:

--(website) www.lawcareercoaching.com

--(e-mail) awoodley@lawcareercoaching.com

--(cell phone) (480) 227-5776Have you opened a new location, redesigned your shop, or added a new product or service?