Legal Career Paths: Senior Corporate Counsel, Life Coach, and Podcast Host was originally published on Vault.
Angela Han is a lawyer and a life coach. She helps lawyers get results by transforming blind spots into strengths. She is also host of the “Fit to Practice” podcast, where she interviews lawyers on what it means to be fit to practice.
Vault spoke with Angela about her career path from law school to her role as a Senior Corporate Counsel and as a life coach—as well as her advice for lawyers and law students on navigating their career paths.
Vault: Why did you initially decide to go to law school?
Angela: I initially decided to go to law school for all the wrong reasons. I was raised in South Korea, and my parents were very flexible with me about what I wanted to do with my life. But I put pressure on my own self, buying into the expectation of being an Asian person. The expectation is you have to be a doctor or a lawyer. I felt being a doctor took too long, so I took the short path. I decided to go to law school for the prestige and the money, and then I realized how tough law school is. I had to reevaluate my situation and ask what really is my passion because living for the prestige and the money is not sustainable.
Vault: Can you share your path from law school to your position as Senior Corporate Counsel and your work as a life coach?
Angela: Law school made me revisit my life situation because I didn’t get the best grades, and I didn’t get any offers for a position after law school. I got a position as a law fellow at a local government agency. I thought, “I’m not going to get the money or prestige I was looking for, but even if I did, I’m not going to find it fulfilling.” Everyone was talking about passion, so I tried to figure out what does passion even mean. I was watching YouTube videos on passion, and one of them said you find your passion with your pain. I realized my pain was my culture shock and my mental health challenges of being an immigrant. The way I handled that was by taking care of my health and exercising. I started there and became a professional trainer, helping people, and then becoming a health coach and a life coach. It looks different for each person.
Vault: What are some of your typical duties in your current role as Senior Corporate Counsel of HealthPRO Heritage?
Angela: I was just promoted. I’ve been Corporate Counsel for three years, and I was just promoted to Senior Corporate Counsel, but the duties aren’t that different. My primary duty is to draft and negotiate contracts and vendor contracts and manage litigation we have with outside counsel. I also focus on handling corporate filings with our corporate documents, being able to do business in states we do business in, and managing issues with HR, because we have a lot of employees in our company. I do typical things you do as in-house counsel.
Vault: How do you juggle your role as in-house counsel with your work as a life coach and host of the “Fit to Practice” podcast?
Angela: I think there are two things. One is to be in a work environment where they understand you are a human being outside of work. My boss is the most incredible human I’ve ever met. He has interests outside of work, and I have interests outside of work. Our focus is getting work done, and it doesn’t matter what your hours are. Two: I get help. I’m not afraid to ask for help with anything I’m not 100% excellent at, which includes editing my podcast. I need to be involved with certain tasks, like hosting the podcast, but if it is something that doesn’t require I be there, like editing and posting the podcast, I get help. It helps me focus on the things that only I can do and on my clients.
Vault: What types of skills are most important for someone aspiring to work as a life coach?
Angela: I think any skill is learnable, but the thing we all can work on is trusting ourselves. I think there’s a lot of lack of trust in our power and our willingness to do anything. We get stuck in the ideas that we passed the bar and it took a long time and that even if we feel it is miserable, we must stay in this position because of the money or prestige or whatever you think the legal profession offers you. And I think we lose trust in ourselves and lose trust in our ability to build the life we desire. If you want to be a coach or anything else you want to do, trust what you desire, even if it seems random—like owning an ice cream shop. Stop thinking, “People are going to judge me. I’m going to fail.”
Vault: What would surprise most people about your professional life?
Angela: I think a lot of people say, “I don’t know how you get sleep. I don’t know how you do all of the stuff you do.” It’s very easy if you ask for help. I think that is the biggest thing that we struggle with. We think as lawyers we have to do everything ourselves, and if we don’t know how to do everything, somehow we’re a failure. If your house is on fire, you’re not a failure for not putting out the fire—you have to call 911. Part of trusting yourself is trusting other people to help with skills you’re not 100 percent good at.
Vault: What advice do you have for law students and lawyers who want to follow a different path from law firm practice or who want to pursue a career outside of the legal field?
Angela: A lot of the things I do really go back to self trust, and I think that’s the same here. When we start off as young lawyers, we get inundated by the noise of what we should be doing to be set up for the rest of our lives. So whenever you hear advice that isn’t consistent with how you want to use your law degree, feel free to disregard that, while respecting the person giving the advice to you.
Get to Know Angela:
- Favorite Law School Class: Criminal Procedure
- Favorite Legal Movie, TV Show, Book, or Podcast: Law & Order
- Favorite Hobby: Knitting
- Lawyer (alive or deceased) you’d most like to have dinner with: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- If I wasn’t a senior corporate counsel or a life coach, I would: Own a garbage truck company
- My favorite well-being tip for lawyers is: Remember that you are the most powerful person in your life.