ILNews

Leadership in Law 2013: Judy L. Woods

Partner, Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP, Indianapolis Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

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judy-woods02-15col.jpg (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Judy L. Woods is an exemplary attorney, legal scholar, community leader and mentor. She is one of the state’s top commercial and business litigators, focusing on complex commercial and “bet the company” litigation. For 20 years, she has been published regularly in numerous law journals, and she is the author of three volumes of Indiana Practice and Procedure. As a member and chair of the Advisory Committee on Litigation to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Judy advises church officials at the national level about constitutional and other litigation matters in federal and state courts. Her work in the banking and accounting fields often put her in settings in which she was the only woman in the room. By being one of the best, Judy has quietly opened doors for women and patiently held them open for those who have come after her.

If you could take a sabbatical from the law for a year to work your fantasy job, what job would you choose?
I would go on an archeological dig in Africa or the near East. Before law school I did graduate work in and taught anthropology.

What civic cause is the most important to you?
Supporting the arts. We need more than sports and business to be a world-class community. We need music, opera, theater, literature, dance and visual arts. The arts humanize us and challenge us to be better and go farther.

What do you find scary?
Growing intolerance and illiteracy in the world as a result of over reliance on the Internet and social media and increasing political polarization. An educated citizenry is necessary to maintain the rule of law.

What class in law school did you find the most difficult?
Business mergers and acquisitions, because I was doing M & A work for a large bank at the time and looked at everything from a very practical, client’s point of view, not the lawyer’s perspective.

In life or law, what bugs you?
Persistent prejudice and lack of diversity. We still have a long way to go in law and life before there is gender equality.

Numerous TV shows center around lawyers and their practices. Are any of them close to realistic?
“Law and Order,” “The Good Wife,” etc. all have some elements of truth, but none of them captures the amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into being a good lawyer – reading the law, reviewing the documents, editing and re-editing drafts. One of my mentors, Judge James Kirsch, taught me that being a good lawyer is 90 percent preparation and 10 percent presentation.

If a drink or sandwich were to be named after you, what would it be called and what would be in it?
The sandwich would be thick and have a lot of layers because that is my life – lots of layers of different experiences. I would cut it into precise triangles to represent my attention to detail and call it the “Martha.”
 

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  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

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