Season 1, Episode 001

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Judith Gaton, a lawyer, stylist, master certified life coach, and author. Judith practiced litigation for 11 years before shifting to life coaching, where she now helps women dress and love the body they are in. Through her signature course, Style Masterclass, Judith teaches her clients that thought work is the key to a lasting makeover. Her ultimate style philosophy… confident women build legacies.

During our conversation, Judith shares her journey in legal practice, her transition from solo practitioner working on divorce cases to working in a compensation defense firm, and her shift into coaching.

“When you dial in your confidence and style, you can do the work you were created to do in this world. Don’t play small!” -Judith Gaton

Shownotes

Website: https://www.judithgaton.com/

Instagram: @judithgaton

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLtfJvACCPxoc5zOFhMfyLQ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/judithgaton/

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: Welcome, everyone to the legally bliss podcast. I would love to welcome today Miss Judith Catan. Judith is a stylist, master certified life coach, author and lawyer. Through her signature course style masterclass. She teaches her clients that thought work is the key to Elastic makeover, to competence, coaching and mindset work. She helps her clients to see that they can dress and love the body they are in right now. When style and confidence are dialed in, women can go do the work they were created to do in the world. Her ultimate style philosophy, confident women build legacies. I love that and welcome to the podcast, dude. It’s so happy you’re here. Are you ready to conquer and slay?

Judith: Yes, let’s do it. 

Suzi: And I also want to wish you happy birthday. Almost I know we’re getting the there of you. 

Judith: Thank you.

Suzi: Sagittarius. Yes, yes, I love my fellow Sagittarius is. So I listened to one of your recent podcast and holy crap, it was just chock full of just life changing messaging. In my opinion, one of the things that you said I think is so key is compassion is sexy. It is true self care. I know that something that you talk a lot about is self compassion. Can you tell me a little bit about that? I’d love to hear some of your philosophy around that.

Judith: Yeah, I mean, I think and I, because we’re both fellow lawyers, right? I think a lot of times, we do two things, either. We’re trying to find a lesson really quickly. And something that we don’t like that’s happening. We’re like, what’s the lesson in this? Let me find the silver lining. Let me see how I can reframe the messaging around this. So I can deliver this piece of horrible news, right? And it’s like, wait, wait, wait, wait, can we just like pause and be like, I feel pretty shitty right? Now, this doesn’t feel good. I have to be the bearer of bad news. Or I have to get through this thing that I don’t want to get through or have a hard conversation or do something really difficult. And if we’re always trying to find silver lining and the message or the lesson or trying to reframe the message, like we’re leaving out the part where we’re human, and we make mistakes, and we’re scared, and we’re afraid, and we’re worried, and we have doubt. And we miss out on a huge part of the human experience. And that kind of quick to jump to silver lining or a message or you know, whatever it is, if we’re so quick to do that. We’re never actually evolving. We’re just trying to sort of manage our fear and anxiety. And not successfully because that should sneaks out so we can have the farce and that like brave face of you know, I’ve got it together, I know exactly what to say I know how to deliver this bad news. I know how to have this harder conversation. And secretly, we’re still afraid it’s still leaks out. We’re actually not. We’re not as clever as we think we are sometimes. So if we find our place of compassion, right.

Suzi: That was very clever.

Judith: We that’s like, like that part of us sneaks out so might as well at least give ourselves the pause of like, Hey, you, I acknowledge that you have feelings. I know we have to go do this hard thing. But let’s just pause here. So that in an unexpected, unwanted moment, that emotion that we do really want to keep in check doesn’t sneak out inadvertently. It’s like we’re not in the middle of a hearing and getting berated by a judge and then we start crying. 

Suzi: Which has happened to some of us, may or may not have happened to some of us, right.

Judith: But like, you know, you don’t want that in an unexpected way. But that doesn’t mean we ignore it. True. Compassion is acknowledging and expecting that we’re going to be uncomfortable. And then going about and doing the difficult thing anyway, like that’s compassion and allowing yourself to feel that feelings, right?

Suzi: Like, that’s something that I’ve noticed myself with with just coaching with my coaches is that, you know, I think as a lawyer, we’re oftentimes trying to find a solution, right? I feel bad, I’m sad, I’m upset about something. Okay? I’m going to come up with three, like, real world tangible solutions to fix the problem. Whereas with True Self Compassion, maybe we allow ourselves to feel the sadness, or the Skerries, or whatever the feeling is that comes along with that.

Judith: Yeah, and then we can take action, but like, how better suited are we to take action when we actually acknowledge how we’re feeling? I know that when I, you know, I used to do what are called catastrophic claims, I represented insurance companies and government entities in workers compensation defense. So oftentimes, when you deal with catastrophic claims, they’re already called catastrophic for reason. These are people who are severely injured, chance of recovery is slim to nil. So we are literally managing expectations, we’re managing delivery of bad news, we are mitigating to the best of our ability, but it’s already a losing game. I’ve already lost there’s no winning in this scenario. There’s managing and mitigating. So a lot of times in those scenarios, like, yeah, I need to come up with three solutions. That’s my frickin job. But also, how better suit him Am I to come up with three solutions in a very, very difficult situation? If I take five seconds, and here’s the thing, y’all I think we think we have to fill our fields. It’s like a whole afternoon of like, being emo in our office alone, like, no, no, I’m not even expecting that. Like, please hear me. Like, I’m glad you’re like, yeah, like, I think that like a five to 32nd body scan, we’re just like, checking in with yourself before you move on to problem solving. Because you’re at least clearing that initial like fear reaction, that trauma response, you’re getting that whole system a little bit simmer down, so that you’re literally calming down your cortisol level so that you can think more rationally so that you can use your prefrontal cortex to problem solve. If we jump immediately to problem solving, without compassion, or acknowledging how we’re feeling, our cortisol levels are super at ultimate high, our limbic system is now engaged. And it’s really hard to make prefrontal cortex decisions and problem solving at that high level we want so like from a scientific standpoint, and well, it’s a little bit of Whoo, it’s important that we pause.

Suzi: Mm hmm. I think it’s interesting that you mentioned the Whoo, right. But I, I am a, I was a biology major in college. And so I’m a kind of like a scientist at heart in some way. So I love all of that. But I do definitely see where the quote unquote woo has some intersection there. I think that the more that we learn about ourselves, and our brains and our minds, and our limbic systems, and our prefrontal cortex, and how all of that works, I think that we may learn that Whoo, might be a little more real, and how we want to define that than what was originally believed.

Judith: So yeah, no, I’m with you. And I think because, you know, for our lawyers who are like, I’m taught in logic, I have literally juris doctorate or degrees in logic, like, that’s really what we’re taught. So the introduction of the EU, sometimes it’s like, you want me to feel my feelings? Really like that? How is that supposed to help me? So I think sometimes it’s like, I acknowledged the sounds Whoo. But also, here’s the science behind it. And like, yeah, there might be some who but like, Let’s invite a tinge of it in. And here’s the science of what we’re saying and why this works and why this is going to be helpful to you in the long run.

Suzi: So let’s talk a little bit about Judas. Miss J was let’s go back if I want to know because this is all been such good stuff. But this is like really coaching stuff. I want to talk a little bit about you and learn a little bit about, like who you are, and like why you’re on this journey. Like there’s a why here, right? Like there’s a why to your why. But I would love to know like, why did you go to law school? Why are you now doing what you do so so let’s take Timmy back just a couple of years.

Judith: Oh my God, I feel so old. It’s funny because I realized the other day that I had been a litigator for 11 years before I retired from practice. And it was kind of funny to me because I was like, Holy shit, like I did the damn thing. So did the damn thing. earn that badge. Um, so I originally was a Fashion Design major. And so weird. I was a Fashion Design major. And a few things happened all at once. I got some negative reviews on one of my garments in my draping class and I’m not expecting anyone to know what that means. It’s just a very technical fashion design class. And the teacher said that I was technically perfect but boring, which to a lawyer’s ears. It’s like that’s the best phrase ever. no higher priority. Thank you so much. I’m a to a fashion designer and you know, very early 20 something year old. That was devastating. So I was like, okay, clearly, I have to do something else. Yeah, I held it together. And then my brain went into problem solving mode, which like, there’s early finds of being an attorney here. I was like, Okay, well, if that’s not going to work out, and I’m going to be boring, and no one’s gonna buy my stuff, I need to do something else. I’m really smart. I’ve always been, you know, honor student, like 4.0 GPA, you know, did all the extra math, all the things I’m like, Okay, I’ll just go do something else. My aunt was like, You should be a lawyer. And I’m like, Yes, I shouldn’t be a lawyer. Boom. It’s done. And it’s funny, because I went to a special talk at fit in New York City, and fit had a fashion lawyer there. His last name was Klein, I can’t remember his first name really lovely man, and was like, you can combine your two favorite things. And I was like, I will try and go do that. Which, no, that’s not how it actually works in the real world. But that’s so cute that we think these things. So I went to law school. And then I opened up my own practice. I was a solo practitioner right out of law school, which, wow.

Suzi: So you’re on an entrepreneurial early on.

Judith: I don’t recommend it. By the way. I don’t recommend hanging your own shingle when you are that baby of an attorney.

Suzi: Yeah, yeah. What What was your biggest obstacle as as a baby attorney just right out hanging that shingle.

Judith: I was a wild woman. I would just like go research stuff. And I’m like, here’s this obscure thing that they did. I’m gonna do it too. And I remember once being in front of a judge, I won’t say his name, but he is a special man. I was in front of a judge. And it was and here’s the thing I early on, I was involved in multimillion dollar divorce cases. So what I would be is I would be like of counsel to handle the dissolution of the business asset within the larger dissolution of the marriage. So it sounds complex. It’s extremely complex. I was involved in complex divorce litigation, because I don’t do anything simple, apparently. Um, and y’all understand, I mean, we had special masters appointed to address discovery issues. There were not just the divorce attorneys, there were the business attorneys under there were trustees of the corporate assets. Like, we had multiple layers of counsel on any one of these files. And it was just, I would do wild stuff. And I remember being in front of a judge. And I was like, I’m consolidating this shareholder of it or x derivative action within the divorce, and we’re gonna send it to the family law. And I remember the judge was like, You can’t do that. And I was like, Oh, yes, I can, Your Honor. Watch me. And I would just do I mean, like, look on your face right now, since he’s classic.

Suzi: Did you wear animal prints to court.

Judith: That I allowed myself to dress more myself probably about five years into living at the time, I was still very much. Oh, my God, I was only like, 25. And I looked babyface. And I had ringlets. My hair was like in ringlets at the time. So I used to get a lot of like, Oh, you’re so cute. And then I would say crazy shit. And I’m like, She’s crazy. But it was it was I would wild out like now I’m like thinking back a little bit of dismay, like, what were you thinking? And I did, and it worked out and the case got, you know, through them got through the channels. And the family law judge just had a timing that was like the funnest case he’d ever worked out because it was just wild. And everything kind of worked out. But at a certain point, I was like, I need I need wiser older attorneys around me. Sure. Sure. Sure. So then I went to big law, and I got I don’t know if you can say recruited but my aunt had a connection and then a connection had a connection. And I got asked to interview and then I started doing workers compensation defense.

Suzi: Okay. Okay, so a big, quite a change going from solo. Judas just winging it just wild woman Judith to the more structured aspects of big law, right. So that had to have been a little bit of a shock to your system.

Judith: It will for several reasons, because worker’s compensation practice in California is still a little bit of the Wild West in terms of procedure, and its administrative law, but it also has been gifted certain procedural elements of regular civil practice. So it’s just like a fun, weird practice area. And it’s very collegial because you’re gonna see the same person going on 200 files because it’s a volume business. So it’s just different practice. But I remember my first hearing in worker’s comp, and like everyone’s walking around yelling at each other. It’s a conference room, not a proper court room. And I’m just like, what is happening in here? Like, oh my god, there’s no roll call, like, no one’s on time for anything. And I go to the judge and like arguing my ass off. And he just like, looks at me. He’s like, Oh, you did civil? Yeah, we don’t do that here. Can you to go talk and sort things out and then only come back to me if you have a solution. Like, up in a very, very different practice area. But it was the best thing ever. And I made some amazing relationships, even my opposing counsels, like, I have some who I just, I just adore them. Like, I think about them now. And I’m like, Oh, my God, they were so amazing humans, they were had great conversation. They’ve been in practice for 40 something years. Plus, like, these are people who love the art of being attorneys. Like, it was such a cool place to land. And the best place I think, for ending that chapter of my life, like I couldn’t have asked for a better practice area or better group of people. Now, not everyone has my experience, obviously. But I had a lovely one.

Suzi: I love hearing positive stories like that, right? Because there’s always the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly. So it’s good to to hear when someone has a really positive experience. So did you have a mentor at that firm that you that kind of like guided you or someone that inspired you there?

Judith: Yeah, there were two attorneys really my managing partner and managing supervising attorney because then there’s like weird hierarchies and big law. The managing partner of our office and then the managing supervising attorney, and I’ll say their names Robert and Carol, like, lovely, lovely. Like just good dudes like solid dudes. We love you, dude. Yeah, we love you solid dudes. And I had a colleague of mine who was sort of my lateral at the time, Susan, and she was just so gracious and Johan to like the whole office was a group of people’s like, open door policy. So literally just pop your head and be like, I’ve got questions, what do I do next? And they were very much like, we are in the business of advancing cases forward. We are not ready to burn ground like burn the ground discovery tactics, like have no place here. We need to really, really like work on how do we advance this forward? So the question that you lead with all the time is, how do we advance this forward. And like that piece of advice was just so incredibly helpful, and I think really helped me launch my career and eventually make partner at a different law firm, is because I always had that in mind, that was the best piece of advice, and they were nurturing and loving. And we went to lunch every day, we had breakfast every Friday with each other like it gets, it’s a very lovely practice area, in case anyone is thinking about switching practice areas, I highly recommend workers compensation defense, it’s just very lovely.

Suzi: That’s a really good guidance. I mean, honestly, because not every practice area is the same or as collegial, right, even when it comes not just dealing with opposing counsel on work, but also internally, there can be competition amongst associates.

Judith: This is very much not that kind of a practice area. It just really isn’t. And here’s the thing, whoever’s listening, just because your practice area in right now might feel difficult. You might be struggling with opposing counsels. It may not be you as a lawyer, it just may be you might need a change of practice area. And I’m not a huge proponent of like changing our circumstances to make ourselves feel better. But the truth is, not every practice area is a good fit for every attorney like some of you might really love transactional work. But being in civil litigation is not your jam, or being in criminal law is not your jam, where you have to be literally in court all the time. Like, there are definitely places to play within law, where you can find a sweet spot just for you, you really can. And I just want to encourage you all, to consider that as a potential place to find a little bit of of sweetness and some lightness in practice, if you want to remain in practice.

Suzi: I think that’s such great guidance due to because so many people when they get into law school, it seems like they kind of get pigeonholed into their practice area, right? And they get 234 years to deepen their practice area. And it’s like, oh my gosh, no, like, I can’t change at this point. Right. I mean, everything I know is trademark law. You may not be used to that, right. It’s like I don’t know how to do anything else. Like what would I do? I think that’s awesome, right? That what a big firm that was like that you that you had worked at. facilitate that though. Can they help a young law or facilitate trying something different after a few years if they’re not super happy? Or is it like, Oh, if you’re not gonna love, you know, bankruptcy out of here?

Judith: Yeah, I mean, my experience was was two firms that did strictly workers compensation defense. So I can’t speak to big law that has multi practice areas under one roof. But what I can say, and this is something to remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you, y’all. If you’re like looking to make a transition from one practice area to another, or you’re just starting out, one of the things you can ask them is like, do you have some sort of program within your firm that helps us learn this practice area and make a sort of like, masters of the art of fill in the blank practice area. So that, like, any part of the threshold of discomfort that so many baby attorneys feel, and I sorry for saying baby attorneys, it’s just something I’ve gotten used to saying younger attorneys. Yeah, like brand new attorneys, is the learning curve. When you get out of law school is like you think you know everything. And then you really realize suddenly you don’t know anything. isn’t that scary?

Suzi: It’s like terrifying. It was like law school for me was so hard. But you know, you get out and you’re like, I know things. You started a firm and you’re like, I don’t know shit.

Judith: I know nothing. Right? So like creating an environment or finding an environment where there’s definitely people who are more knowledgeable than you. Because guess what, darlin? You really do need that you need an excellent legal secretary or legal assistant who knows more than he has been practicing, like, way longer than you, God bless them. They are the ones who are going to teach you so much about writing briefs, writing, you know, whatever court documents you have to write like, these are your people who are going to teach you so much. So you want to go to a place where they have a program that facilitates learning all of that I was lucky enough at both my firms that I went to, or they had programs that were in place for that. Like, the last room I was at, literally, the associates when they’re brand brand new, they come in it’s a six month program, teaching them the law 101 Having them shadow other attorneys at hearings, because our hearings are a little bit of a different baby. Getting on phone calls being at depositions, like we really teach you from the nitty gritty ground up and you want to find a firm that does that.

Suzi: Do you mean, actually how to practice law actually how to practice law? Actually, wait, you mean we didn’t learn that and loss? We pay all of that money and like put ourselves through that. And then we take the bar and then we get out and all of a sudden we’re like, we have to learn now how to actually practice the law. Actually, we do get paid for that for it at that point. Right. So yeah, you’re getting paid.

Judith: And here’s a hot tip for any of y’all who are like, Okay, start at this, like, yeah, like Hot Tip incoming. Here’s what I learned. And this is gonna sound really funny. But I remember when I was a solo practitioner, and I had all these pieces of paper, I had no idea how to fill out I didn’t no idea what to do. And my secretary, God bless her had been like, she was she was all hat. She was like, I know what to do. I’m like gangster, so I leaned on her a lot. So number one, if you’re going to hang your shingle, you want to find a legal assistant that you’re going to pay handsomely, who has worked for at least a decade more than you because they know everything and you know, nothing. So good. So that good thing is if you’re gonna hang your shingle again, or you work for an attorney who’s not really willing to train you, you’re gonna make friends with your local clerk at your court. Oh, okay. You’re gonna make super friends with them. You are going to tell them how much you appreciate them and love them because they are the gatekeeper to getting your shit in front of a judge number one, but number two, they know more than you. So one of the things I would do oftentimes, especially when I was doing appellate briefs as a ghost writer, don’t even ask terrible don’t even ask is more here. There’s a whole story behind there. Yeah, very successful ghost writer of appellate briefs and if anyone knows about appellate writing, and ever wrote a writ of mandate 85% of them are declined. Every writ of mandate I’ve ever written was accepted and opinions that were published issued on them. So I love appellate writing. Like I could still do that on the side honestly. Yeah, I love writing.

Suzi: Yeah. What is your book?

Judith: How to be a fucking lady?

Suzi: Okay, okay. Is it on Amazon?

Judith: It is on Amazon. Okay, go find it.

Suzi: Yeah, we’ll put it in on in the show notes.

Judith: Okay, cool. But like seriously, make friends with your clerk because one of the things I would pretend to do is I would pretend this is so funny. I would go and pretend my attorneys really mean the attorney I work for like, I’m a law clerk and he’s really mean. And he wants perfection and I don’t know what I’m Doing and the clerk would be like, okay, honey, let me show you.

Suzi: Don’t you love people like that though?

Judith: You just love in clerks, if you really defer to their expertise, their years of experience and the fact that you know nothing, you will seriously get the help you need because the truth that is all the truth. So I remember an appellate brief once and had a Joint Appendix that was giant, and it was a huge mess. And I went back to the same clerk five times. And every time she’d like, read Mark, read Mark, and like, I will be back and I would go fix it. And I would take my ass back there to the same window, and I’d wait for her to be ready. And she’d market again and we do it again and again, again, until I perfected how to properly compile the appellate brief in the appendix that she needed to go do her job. So seriously, all there’s nothing wrong with saying, I don’t know, my attorneys really mean and evil, and I really need your help. I don’t know shit. And like, really, you’re going to do yourself such a service of going to yourself to the court not relying on the court runner going yourself in front of the clerk to deliver things so you can see what changes they’d like made in real time. And you’re going to learn so much that way because like Suzy said, you don’t know shit. Really? We really don’t. You get out and you don’t know anything, my friends.

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Judith: Oh, I think we’re trained, I think it’s trained into us to be problem solvers, and to try and be the most knowledgeable person in the room. And it’s like the guy with the you know, that obscure case citation is the one who wins the gal who can argue the best is the one who wins. And yes and no, my friends, like the longer you get into practice, a lot of practices relationships. And this is something I would tell my younger niece, who I supervise, this is a relationship business. Surprise, no one told you, a lot of this is going to be emotional intelligence, which we’re not trained to do. And one of the best things you can do for yourself for your emotional intelligence for your development, as an attorney, as a practitioner, is to really start to exercise I don’t know. And not make that mean, anything negative about you?

Suzi: Yes. Oh, my gosh, Judas, if I would have had this advice at 2530, right, in terms of it’s okay to not know, it doesn’t mean anything about you. But I remember just always being like, so fearful. And I’m also in a state of panic, because I’m like, I don’t know this stuff. Like, why do I, you know, I feel like everyone else knows things. And I just feel stupid, right? Like, maybe I’m just stupid. And like, I think it caused a lot of self doubt in me. When, you know, in real reality, if I would have had a coach or have done thought work in the past, or, you know, kind of around that. It would have been a game changer. It could have been a game changer.

Judith: Oh, hell yes, my friend, right? Like, if we have the tools we have now then we’d be we would have just been different experience of practice, I think for myself. So part of my mission, when I started to be in a supervisory role was like, I don’t know is your best friend. Because first of all, we know if you don’t know when you’re making up shit, like we all know, it’s worse. It’s just worse. Stop talking. Like so. You know, one of the things I learned early on, it’s just like, Your Honor, I don’t know. But I will research that and get back to you. If you’ll give me leave. I can brief you or I can come and I can give you oral argument next time we come back. I just simply don’t have the answer. And I got such I got such a rapport with judges because then they could trust that whenever I came back I actually had researched I wasn’t bullshitting them, and it would also give my opposing counsel opportunity to get their shit together if they didn’t have it together. Or to have a meaningful conversation with them. Like I don’t want to fucking come back here. Do can we come up? Can we deal today? Can you can you get some money? Can we make a deal because I don’t want to come back here. I don’t want to research this. I don’t want to write a brief against your briefs. I know how you write I’m not doing this, like, yeah, tell me make a demand. So it’s sometimes saying I don’t know. And asking leave to go find out gives you leverage to negotiate with your opposing counsel, it gives you respect from the judge that you’re not just going to bullshit them. Like there’s so many benefits to I don’t know. I’ve also had the weird experience sometimes of there’s an attorney in particular mine. He’s in his late 70s, he held my hand one day, I’m just kidding you, but walk me around the courthouse to introduce me to his favorite like, bailiffs and judges, like, just really funny man. And I remember saying I didn’t know something. There’s a particular procedural issue I didn’t know. And he was like, let me break it down for you. This is my opposing counsel. But for whatever reason, because I was like, I don’t know what it was. I endeared myself to him in some way. And he’s been practicing, I think 45 years at that point in time, like he was a late attorney, because he practiced in his 30s. And he was like, in his late 70s. And he broke me down this whole procedural issue for me explained it to me, you know, and I didn’t always take it at face value. 

Suzi: And when in research at my own, just make sure he didn’t leave anything out, of course, for me over.

Judith: Right, right. Like, are you trying to just because you’re a cute old man, are you trying to have your way right, like, right, you can be careful. never be too careful. Absolutely. But I just love this cool relationship with him. And I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t. If I blustered and pretended I knew I would have missed out on this opportunity to meet this fascinating gentleman who had been practicing forever in a day, who’d seen all the things like, I mean, you miss out on developing these amazing relationships, if you don’t exercise? I don’t know, from time to time. 

Suzi: Wow, that is such a learning. I think it’s like, just such a great tip for people because they don’t reach out so many of us don’t realize the ancillary benefits. You know, it’s like benefits of saying, I don’t know, right. But you have a perfect example.

Judith: You just never know, like, you never know, the other person’s response. And I mean, I’ve had attorneys who get irate yet. Oh, no. What do you mean it? I know, I’m like, I don’t know. You can be mad all you want, like, change anything?

Suzi: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I remember getting to the point in my own practice, when I would be speaking with clients. And, and just realizing that I can say now to a client, I don’t know, I don’t really know that, but I’m gonna go figure out, I’m gonna go figure it out, and come back with an answer or a strategy for you. I think that that just reflects a lot of growth as a lawyer, that you get to the point where you do realize, I don’t know, and there’s no point in trying to bluster your way through something right? Like, it’s just, there’s really no benefit of it.

Judith: No, no benefit. Really all, no benefit.

Suzi: No question. When did you like decide? I’m going to balance on practicing law. Was this like a decision like that? Or did you you? Did you go through sort of the whole, like, mental challenges of, but it’s my identity, right? Because I hear so many people say they’re, they’re kind of afraid of getting out of practicing law because I’m a lawyer like, this is part of my identity, right? Or there’s a sunk cost fallacy of, I’ve invested so much in my career. I’m sure you’ve heard that one. So Where Where were you in all of this? Were you just ready to did you know, were you competent in that decision? Or,

Judith: Oh, my God, anyone who’s ever coached me on this, which would be like a whole mouth multitude of people. Like I agonized over the decision, I had to agonize, I agonized. And I agonize for several perspectives, there was one like, what do I say to people that I do? Which was like, I had such a hard time and like, I’m a sale coach, like people like why you? That’s not a thing, right? Like, which I did get the response a few times, but I didn’t do thing. Like it’s a thing and guess what, it’s a thing and make a lot of money doing that thing. But yeah. At first, it was just the identity of like, I’m a lawyer and being able to say I’m a lawyer. And I didn’t realize that was a huge part of it, but it really was. The second part was like, What do I tell my family who had put so much stock in me being a lawyer and they were so proud of me that I was a lawyer. Sharon’s the first person in my family to obtain a doctoral degree and go to graduate school so like, this is a huge deal. So like all I feel like all their hopes and dreams are wrapped up in me being a lawyer, which is not true, but at the time it felt very true that way, right? 

Suzi: Yeah. And then there was you know?

Judith: I always say there’s a God stuff for me I have Christian background, so it was like, God, is this okay, my ungrateful for everything you’ve done for me as As up to this point in time, because I’m deciding to do something different is this okay? Am I allowed? And that was very interesting, just sort of reconciling all these things, and ultimately deciding a few things. And just for anybody who’s just thinking about making this kind of a transition, here’s the thoughts that were helpful to me, that helped me make the leap. Number one, I’m always going to be a lawyer. Have a juris doctorate. Maybe I’m not practicing, but I’m always going to be a lawyer always want to be a lawyer. I’m always like, my brain was trained in a very formative part of my brain like getting its goo the way it is, like in your early 20s, when we most of us go to law school. Our brain is still forming, like, during those like important question years, like right, like, this is how it works. We are literally our brains are retrained to think a completely different way that will never be taken away from me. I can’t unknow the things that I know. And I can’t stop thinking the way that I think naturally now as a result of that training. I’m okay with this.

Suzi: I love that. Because are you specifically mentioned in a recent podcast about taking your experience and knowledge with you? And that, like, all of these things that you’ve done in your past can be used now and just how to lead into the skills that you have, right? So like, even if you’ve been a lawyer and you decide to, you know, not practice anymore, you still have brought those skills with you like you’re always a lawyer. 

Judith: Yeah, no, there’s no undoing it. Yeah, there’s no undoing, like speaking in such a way that like, here’s my main point, here are three sub points that support my main point, here’s the conclusion. I can I’m always going to talk that way. Like I there’s no helping myself now.

Suzi: But not limited to a Christmas card. I don’t know if like if you got that link that I think you did. 

Judith: I did I saw that I looked for the lawyer revised a Christmas card.

Suzi: I wish you a reasonably Merry Christmas is so good. So this is so yeah, that’s like an example of how like, even if you’re not practicing law anymore, like that is that’s still there, right? Like you kind of still approach. Yeah, and I’m sure so much of what you’ve learned as a lawyer has been very beneficial for your business right now.

Judith: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Like, I file my own LLC, I file my own, like, you know, things like I don’t need anyone to do that. For me. I’m perfectly capable. So like, save some money, but those legal fees. Right, right. But like thinking in terms of systems and processes and strategic problem solving, like all of that comes with me, like I was a litigator. So not all attorneys gators, of course, but I was a litigator. So like the gift of gab is going to follow me like that’s part of the deal. And I love that. I love that.

Suzi: So you had mentioned the thought like some thoughts about it. Right. And that was the first one. That’s the first one.

Judith: The second one that helped me was and this is going to be different for everyone, of course, but was that I could affect more change as a coach than I could as an attorney?

Suzi: Intro Interesting. Okay, so let’s talk about that. Yeah, tell me more like, tell me about like, how you are effecting that change in your, in your work today. This is fascinating.

Judith: Yeah. So there was there came a point, a critical point. And when I was I was practicing full time and being a coach. And there was a part where I realized, like, I was going to have to start to turn away coaching clients in order to serve and continue to serve at a high level of excellence, because that was important to me, my legal clients. And at some point, it was like, wait a minute, I could help multiplied 1000s of women learn to be confident and love themselves. And if their lawyers and their doctors, they could go do their work in the world from a completely different frame of mind. And the ripple effect of that would be so pronounced. We couldn’t even it’s like geometric math. Like, we can’t actually calculate that it’s just such an exponential change that could happen was just a small amount of amazing, incredible smart women who need some help in this particular area, versus catastrophic claims where I could affect one life pretty significantly. But it’s not like I could talk about it. It’s not like I could go and say, Hey, do you know that we did this thing for this person who was a victim of a terrorist attack? 

Suzi: No, I can’t share that stuff.

Judith: You’re not gonna be doing podcasts and spreading podcast about it because you heard the lessons I learned this week and catastrophic claims like, No, you can’t, you obviously cannot. So the ripple effect wouldn’t be there because I couldn’t speak to multiplied 1000 about the change we were making for this one person. And that started to weigh on me. And it became a first I thought being a lawyer was such a vocation, not just like a job and an actual vocation. And when I mind switch to, okay, this other thing is also a vocation. And it has the ability to affect the lives of 1000s, potentially millions of women, this is more important to me at this point, I can affect more change as a coach than I can as a lawyer. And that freed me up all this guilt that I had, about the God stuff and about the family stuff. And then it became almost like woman on a mission to help all the other women who are on a mission.

Suzi: Your why your why was I was greater, I guess. So were you working with coaches at that point yourself to help you kind of work through that.

Judith: Yeah, so Carla, and Tyler, I talked about it. And I’m dropping her name as a fellow lawyer. Yeah. Who’s turned coach. She initially coached me in 2017. Yes, May of 2017 years or one on one years ago, but she’s still taking one on one clients. No longer is. Well, I’m coaching the land. That is a long time ago, right? In real world. That’s not a long time at all. But yeah, we created the first iteration of my program together and then I chickened out, and I ghosted her, which is funny because like, I adore her and I have such a great coach client relationship with her now, but I totally ghosted her. I was like, I can’t do this. Oh, my God, I can’t do this. And I’m like.

Suzi: You freaked out.

Judith: It’s so funny. In retrospect, completely freaked out. Yeah. And I tabled that, like I still, I dabbled. I did my podcast. Like I had a client here or there. I was all free. I wasn’t charging anybody any money until about 2019. And finally, I went to writing retreat with Brooke. And a dear friend of mine was also there. And they were coaching me at the table, and I will never forget this. You’re like, Are you reading a fucking fashion charity? Like, what is happening? Do you not like money? You need to charge people.

Suzi: I can totally see Brooke saying, Do you not like money? Do you not like money?

Judith: You have to charge like, you have to charge people and we made a deal. We made a deal. She was like you’re not allowed to coach unless you charge or you’re just not allowed to coach anymore. And I remember crying and I’m just like, so upset. I cry a lot. But I was just like, like, don’t take coaching away from me. I love coaching. And she was like, Well charge people money. And I made my first client like first paid client ever at that retreat. And then like things started to gain momentum after that, but yeah, this was not it. I went kicking and screaming for sure. It wasn’t like this easy.

Suzi: Was it? Yeah. So it wasn’t like boom, I made the decision. Right? I’m going to do the thing. Like there was a transition period for you, you Oh, yeah. Coaching, therapy, maybe some?

Judith: Oh, yeah. All modalities were all the things that were the this coach, you did that and that coach, you did this. And then the therapists and Neurofeedback like, I had all hands on deck.

Suzi: All hands on deck for the transition out of law. Okay, so I just absolutely love the idea of like, you know, kind of telling yourself that that is that thought that I am going to be doing or like my impact in the world can be three times what it is currently. Right. That’s, that’s such a cool, like, that’s a cool way of looking at it. Because I think a lot of times attorneys, you know that they want to do something. I don’t wanna say grandeur. I mean, because, like, what they do is very valid and great, but they’re like, they have this bigger vision for their lives. And, you know, there’s so many different things that they could do. You know, I think that being a parent, right, like, attorneys who are like, You know what I’m going to, I’m going to take a break here, and I’m going to go home and be or I’m going to stay at home and be a mom for five or 10 years or whatever it is right knowing that the law will always be there. They can always go back even though if it’s even though it might seem scary. But even in that situation, like their impact on the world, through that through raising their children and getting to be home can be such a beautiful impact and can really be, you know, triple as well, in some ways. Yeah.

Judith: Yeah. I think in any attorney listening to this if there’s some other thing that you want to do, here’s what I want to say this is what I say my coach, a lot of my attorney clients or my doctor clients is like this Our motivations are never going to be pure, my friends. So we don’t always have to find some altruistic reason why we want to do something. For me, there was more of a multitude of reasons, some of which were altruistic, and my impact could be greater. Some of it was not so altruistic in the sense that like, I realized, at some point, I can make a lot more money, frankly, as an entrepreneur than I could as a partner at my firm, and that I’m okay with that also being part of the bag, or the fact that I wanted to just have more time freedom. And I was exhausted from litigating for 11 years on really complex cases. From day one, I was on complex cases. And till the day, my last day of work, I had trial of complicated cases, like, and you know, what I’m okay with that was part of the mixed bag. So I don’t want you to think that you have to have a pure motivation, so to speak. It could be mixed motivations, for your reasons to leave the law, stay in the law, take a break from the law, whatever it is, you decide, like, don’t look for, like, a y that is pure or something that is just doesn’t exist, my friend.

Suzi: Right. All right. So what is next for you, Judas?

Judith: Ooh, I like that question. I mean, I work with a vision coach, which is so fun, I never thought I would say, I never thought I would say that, because my level of tolerance of woo was like, right about my nose, like, not over my head. And you know, she’s very much like very woowoo. And I just love her, she’s got such a gentle spirit. And I have a lot of a lot of coaches that have more just to say, this way, masculine energy, a little bit harder and their approach. So my vision coach is very soft. It’s just like a fun place to play. So one thing we do is we kind of work on your vision for three years from now 10 years from now like really thinking about this very often, we talked about it every session. So for me, what’s next is like very clear in my mind, like where I want to head and like, my 10 year vision, just sort of answer the question in that way is I want to grow my business is such a place where we can microfinance, small businesses, women owned businesses, that’s going to take a lot of money. So like, I want to get to a place where like, I own a vintage mansion that’s been renovated and becomes a retreat space. I want to create an actual modern charm school for like feminist snarky women. I love it. And like I want my business you know, style masterclass program to be so robust that we’re helping, like hundreds of women every single month and like really, really changing women’s lives and like, that’s the bigger giant vision for the next few years out. So that’s what’s next.

Suzi: I think that’s amazing. So tell me a little bit about style masterclass. Yeah.

Judith: So style masterclass is my eight week program, and I help women literally dress and love the body they’re in. So meaning we work on your bras and undies, because let me tell you all if you want a hot tip, another Hot Tip. Right, like if you want to be comfortable and confident giving oral argument make sure your damn bras and panties fit just sayin. Because that is a complete distraction from more important shit that you have to work on. So we start with bras and panties. We talk about fitting them we clean out your closet, I teach you how to create outfits and how to style yourself how to shop for clothing, like the practical part, but in conjunction with coaching on confidence and body image so you get a whole makeover inside out and you leave like conquer and slay energy like let’s go do the damn thing. Like that’s how I want every woman to leave my program.

Suzi: So it’s so good. That’s so good. So I want to leave I know that you probably have things going on and I want to be really mindful of your time. But I always love for you to just kind of like leave like one little style nugget maybe for lawyers. Oh, but I mean you kind of did with like making sure your bras and panties you know you’re not like fiddling with them in court, right? It’s not super attractive. It’s like mentally distracting. Like, what if you just you know, went no bra like is that permissible?

Judith: You can have no bra experience. There’s a way to make that happen. I talk about that with my clients a lot like boobie tape is amazing up to certain cup size. Like I will get you in the nitty gritty details because I will soapbox on that. But I mean, if I were to leave everyone with a style tip. One of the things I would just really would say is this week as you’re going about your business doing your work. I want you to start to pay attention to any place you’re tugging or pulling or adjusting your clothes. Like raise your awareness of that because so many women are taught and particularly powerful women who are in powerful jobs. Were taught to ignore physical discomfort hurt because somehow it’s like beauty is pain and pain sacrifice to the beauty and style guides our physical comfort. Like That’s some bullshit.

Suzi: So I want you to Lowe’s the like, the more painful like the more beautiful right right?

Judith: Why we have to have like an Ally McBeal like outfit? No, like, Screw all that like just No, no, no, but I really want you to raise your awareness this week, I want you to just pay attention. And for our dudes who happen to be listening to do this as well, but like, love y’all to Love y’all too. But for my ladies who I think this is really the social programming is like, I want you to pay attention. Are you tugging on your bra? Are you like having to reach into your pants to pull up your panties that have fallen down? Are you getting wedgies or your butt like pants crouching up like is your suit jacket tugging under your armpits like, what is going on with your clothes, and really raise your awareness of it because all that time is not wasted. And it’s the distraction from the important shit you have to do. And if I can relieve you of any distractions, so you can go about your work. It’s the distraction of ill fitting clothes, and giving you permission, whatever they cost you, my friends to just get rid of them. We have to raise your awareness first.

Suzi: You know, I think that’s, that’s really great. Because first of all, you know, it does help raise your awareness. Right? It kind of brings you into your body in the moment, which is really important. But then it also it kind of another point here, I think is that is important is that it’s okay to get rid of certain clothes. Right? Like there are some clothes that we will not ever fit back in ever again. We’re not going to do that. Okay, none of us are going to be 18 again, right? Yeah. And getting rid of those things like giving yourself the grace to not beat yourself up about getting rid of ill fitting clothes, right donating them or whatever it is. It’s okay, you can do it.

Judith: Yeah. And it’s like, just a great like if we go meta with this whole thing. And just really think about this from like, a metaphorical standpoint, getting in the habit of anything that is a distraction, and is not working for you and giving your self permission to go do that. So you can free up space for the things you want. Let’s start with your panty drawer. Of course, let’s start with your clothes. But then let’s look around your life and be like what have I been tolerating that I don’t want to tolerate anymore.

Suzi: And that right? There could be a whole other episode. That’s a whole other episode talking about what are we tolerating, right? Like what are we tolerating as lawyers as women? As humans, right, just as we go about our daily life, what is it that we’re tolerating? I think that I’m gonna go ahead and invite you another time. Yeah, we will talk about it because I, I, you know, and that’s something that that we can just leave people with as well is, make it you know, write it down. What am I tolerating in life right now? Right? And how is it making me feel? Becoming aware of what you’re tolerating, I think, can can be pretty eye opening for Oh, yes.

Judith: And literally question. It’s funny because I started my clients with their underwear and their clothing. And then automatically your brain will start like a heat seeking missile starts to look around, you have like, where else? Holy shit. And that’s how life starts to transform. It’s really good. So I love that as a question to leave them with. I love that.

Suzi: Thank you so much for being on here.

Judith: This was such a good conversation.

Suzi: This was so fun. This was so much fun. So where can people find you? Yeah,

Judith: I think the really the best place is to just start with my podcast. You can check out the style masterclass podcast on iTunes, and that’s a great entry into my world and kind of figure out what I’m all about and get some quick wins and some help.

Suzi: Yes, and your your podcast is absolutely fantastic. And I like how you leave a lot of your pod podcasts with sort of they like a quick win right like or like a challenge you have like a little glam gal mission and glammed out the glam gal mission. I like I’ve heard that I was just like, Oh my gosh. Yeah. Again, thank you so much for hanging out with me today. Judas.

Judith: This was awesome. Thank you.

Suzi: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blissed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Suzan Hixon. See you next time.

Practicing Law with Style and Confidence with Judith Gaton

judith gaton

Mindset, Podcast