Colorado’s newest class of lawyers took their oath Nov. 4, and they have a lot to think about beside the type of career they want: Which bar associations to join, how to balance work and social life, and the practical realities of working versus being a law student.
Law Week sat down with family law attorney Danaé Woody, who is seven years into practicing, to talk about how she built her own practice early in her career, why anyone can be a mentor and learning how to handle mistakes gracefully. She owns the Woody Law Firm in Denver and is involved with the Colorado Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, the CLE branch, and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law’s professional mentoring program.
LAW WEEK: Did you start your own firm right out of school, or were you at other firms beforehand?
WOODY: I started my firm in 2014, so about a year and a half into practice, which is an incredibly early time to do it. But at the same time, I had good mentors. I cultivated a lot of relationships and I had a lot of help. I knew there was a lot of support in the community for me at the time. And I started slowly. My firm has grown now. We have four lawyers right now, and we’re looking to add to that. But at the time, it was just me.
LAW WEEK: When you started your own practice, did you have the goal of growing it into a firm with multiple lawyers? Or was the growth just more organic as your work was growing?
WOODY: The decision to start my own practice was a decision initially about … having the flexibility to work with myself and to meet my clients’ needs the way I thought they needed to be met. Shortly after that, though, probably within about six or eight months, I worked with a business coach. She and I met a lot and did start talking about a modest growth trajectory and how to develop a business model around that, and how to make it work while applying my legal approach as well. And so initially, the answer is I didn’t intend to grow it into a firm, but not long after I started the firm did I realize that was a possibility. One of the things I like about running a firm is I get to be a lawyer, I get to be a businessperson, and I get to be a volunteer in the community. I enjoy all three of those.