The Human Lawyer: Elizabeth Goodwin
Elizabeth creates a path for others. She leverages her experience creating her own path, out of whole cloth, in a down legal job market (read: 2008) to help others find theirs. She’s a champion of various equal rights causes. But that’s not it, she’s also an experienced and accomplished political organizer. You’ll see how she leverages her time, talent, and treasure when she shares her story, in her words, below.
How’d you get to where you are today?
A combination of hard work, luck, and building relationships and connections.
I was never one of those people who said, “I must be X type of lawyer when I grow up”. In fact, I wasn’t really sure what direction to take my career; I knew that I enjoyed people and connecting, liked the law, and that I had a strong belief in social justice. Those themes are the thread that ties my professional life together. From practicing law, working in politics, and now helping law students, every career step has involved some combination of those things.
Like a lot of people, I got my first law job through connections—this one with a fellow Wake Law alum who connected me with her network of solo practitioners. They shared office space, and the deal was: I would work for each of them on an as-needed basis. My career in politics arose out of that same thirst for making connections, committing to social justice causes, and leveraging my legal background knowledge. I used those skills in my first full-time campaign job where I focused on building a network of attorneys, educating them on voting rights, and placing them in polling stations as observers on Election Day. Having lawyers present as observers may seem rudimentary, but it’s a huge value add because we make sure that voters understand how to exercise their rights. Lawyers are great educators in that respect.
I came to Wake Forest because I wanted to maintain my connection to the law while utilizing my passion for building networks. Every day, I work to build a network of attorneys who can help law students become lawyers who will continue the fight for justice, in whatever form the fight may take.
Who and/or what are you thankful for?
I’m thankful for people who serve others, in whatever capacity that may be. Our world would not work (or at least not work well) without people who are willing to serve—whether it’s serving in public office or at a soup kitchen. On a lighter note, I’m thankful for Ralph Teetor, the inventor of cruise control, ha! I travel a lot and sometimes my foot gets heavy, so here’s to you Mr. Teetor: you’ve likely saved me a lot of money in speeding tickets over the years!
In five years, how will you get to where you want to go?
I will be intentional in the decisions that I make about my career path and my life in general; I will make sure that my values align with whatever choices I make; I will be authentic; and I will continue to be curious about people and the world around me.
What inspires you?
People who fight for what's right in the community and challenge us to ensure our definition of "community" is as diverse, inclusive, and representative as the actual community.
What fulfills you?
Making a meaningful connection fulfills me. Whether that means connecting with another person in a meaningful way or connecting others in a way that’s to their mutual benefit. I’m a connector at heart. I also really enjoy working for people with big ideas.
Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
Politics and encouraging civic engagement. That kind of counts as work to some capacity, as I’ve gotten paid for it in the past, but trust me, it’s a labor of love.
What’s one thing you would change about the practice of law?
We would be quicker to evolve. The world around us is changing quickly, but the legal profession isn’t, or at least not quickly enough. We are ripe for disruption, which is exciting; but, also scary.
One unique and personal fact about you that the world should know.
I used to be the person you called when you got lost in Charlotte. I’ve been to every corner of this city for one reason or another, but, sadly, smart phones have largely put me out of business.
To connect with or learn more about Elizabeth, find her here.