Career Corner: Law grad’s business builds ’emotional intelligence muscles’

Published: April 8th, 2013

Category: News

hartleyBy Jenna Box
Student writer

Marathon runner, mother, wife, leader, writer and avid reader.

Alexa Sherr Hartley (JD 02) is also the founder and president of Premier Leadership Coaching, LLC — a business that coaches legal professionals to be the best at what they do.

But, you may ask, why do lawyers and attorneys need coaching? Isn’t that what law school is for?

“You have to have IQ to get into law school,” she said, but EQ — or emotional intelligence — is a necessary skill for lawyers and attorneys to become “outstandingly great.”

This skill was never taught while she was at UF Law, but rather it was demonstrated by many of the faculty and staff whom she engaged with, she said.

Before Hartley became an entrepreneur, she practiced commercial and business litigation for eight years with Greenberg Traurig. During this time, she often found herself engaged in conversations with coworkers about steps they could take to solve professional problems.

“I am authentically interested in people and their stories,” she said. “I really do enjoy interacting with people. I like being a problem solver.”

She eventually realized the best use of her skills was not litigating. In the midst of not-so-favorable economic conditions and a skeptical target audience, Hartley established her coaching business.

At the time, executive coaching was new to legal professionals, she explained, so there was some resistance from her prospective customers. Some even asked her why she didn’t apply her ability to coach professionals in a different field.

But she insisted lawyers needed these soft skills, too.

“Lawyers are my people,” Hartley said. “I’ve been inside that fishbowl, I’ve seen those struggles and I know coaching is the way to overcome.”

Legal professionals often think of emotional intelligence as “nice,” she said.

“Throw ‘nice’ out the window — it’s imperative to build emotional intelligence muscles not for a feel-good thing. It makes you a more effective advocate, it makes you more profitable and it makes you a better asset … It makes good business sense. ”

Hartley teaches her clients positive conflict resolution tactics, how to be inspirational leaders and how to be more self-aware. She will contribute to The Florida Bar Leadership Academy, which begins in June.

“Alexa’s skills and experience as a lawyer have helped me to better manage my practice and clarify my career objectives,” wrote Dori Foster-Morales (JD 89), member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors. “Law school taught me how to be a lawyer, but not really how to manage the complexities of a legal practice. While I’m a work in progress (aren’t we all?), Alexa has really helped me to focus on items in my practice that I simply would not otherwise prioritize.”

Hartley runs marathons, raises her three children and blogs biweekly for Westlaw, a legal solutions blog, as a way to provide coaching for those who cannot afford it. She said her husband is the one who helps her do it all.

Despite all that’s on her plate, Hartley said she is happy to manage it all because she loves what she does.

“I walk the walk, talk the talk and walk the talk,” she said. “I push myself hard to be outstandingly great. I have to practice what I preach.”