An Interview with Sarah Coenen

Bachelor of Arts: UW – Stevens Point

Juris Doctorate: Valparaiso University School of Law

Married: Yes; Corey

Kids: No

Practice Areas: Business Law and Estate Planning

DiSC Profile: C Style

Summary

“People with the C style place a high priority on Accuracy. Because they want to ensure superior results, they tend to analyze options rationally and separate emotions from facts… they’re uncomfortable with quick or risky decisions and prefer to take time to make an informed choice.” – Excerpt from Sarah’s DiSC Workplace Profile.

Undoubtedly, you have to take Personality Profiles with a grain of salt, but COME ON… What else are you really looking for in the individual who is responsible for drafting your legal documents?? Sarah is an absolute tactician. Laser-focused. And for her age, she is a fountain of knowledge. Without question, she is one of the people I most admire in the office. Sharp and humble. It’s a dangerous combination. The kind of person that people will sleep on because she doesn’t sing her own praises, but trust me, her star is rising.

Interview

KOD: “Thanks for making some time to do this, what’s your billable rate? I’m trying to figure out what this is going to cost me…”

SMC: “We’ll put this on Epiphany Time, don’t worry about it.”

KOD: Laughs. “Well I appreciate that. I’ll do my best to get you some good PR out of this.”

KOD: “First question: What were you like in High School?”

SMC: “Very quiet and reserved.”

KOD: “Did you do pretty well in High School?”

SMC: “Yeah, I always did pretty well… Except for Calculus. I hated it.”

KOD: “In High School, did you know you wanted to be in law?”

SMC: “Yeah.”

KOD: “At what point did it become a desire for you?”

SMC: “When I was 12 years old I wrote a book report on Sandra Day O’Connor—“

KOD: “—Who is that?”

SMC: “She was the first female Justice on the US Supreme Court. She inspired me.”

KOD: “What was your favorite cartoon to watch growing up?”

SMC: “Rugrats.”

KOD: “Favorite character on the show?”

SMC: “Tommy Pickles.”

KOD: “You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color are you and why?”

SMC: “I’ve been told before that I’m a yellow crayon –“

KOD: “—What shade of yellow? Like a gold or a soft yellow?”

SMC: “Are you telling me that this is the 64 crayon box instead of the 8 crayon box?? Jeez. I guess I would say more like a standard bright yellow. Like a sunny yellow.”

KOD: “Why?

SMC: “I try to always have a positive disposition and attitude toward my work and my life.”

KOD: “What’s your favorite ‘90s jam?”

SMC: “Everybody by the Backstreet Boys.”

 

Pause. Here you go.
Resume.

 

KOD: “How many pennies do you think would fit into this room?”

SMC: “1 Trillion… No 2 Trillion.”

KOD: “A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?”

SMC: Laughs. “He says, ‘Where am I?’ and he is here because he is lost and is having an identity crisis.”

KOD: “OK, enough with the crazy questions, let’s get a little more serious.”

KOD: “Tell me about 1 person outside of your immediate family that you love.”

SMC: “I would say my cousin Miranda because she is like a sister to me. I can always go to her with anything. She is two years younger than me, but she has a lot of wisdom. And she brings a sarcastic tone to conversations that I really appreciate.”

KOD: “Why are you an attorney? Other than your inspiration from Sandra Day O’Connor.”

SMC: Laughs. “I enjoy the logical process. I enjoy helping people. And attorneys get a bad rap sometimes, so I accept and enjoy the challenge of changing that narrative.”

KOD: “What is 1 other career that interested you in the past?”

SMC: “When I was really little I wanted to be a firefighter… But I thought about teaching for a while in college.”

KOD: “What is one thing that you are proud of yourself for?”

SMC: “Wow, that’s a hard question Kelton.” … “I guess I’m proud of myself for not giving up all the different times I could have on my way to becoming an attorney. Being rejected. Undergrad. Law School. I just kept going.”

KOD: “You got rejected for Undergrad and Law School?”

SMC: “Yeah. So for undergrad, I really wanted to go to UW-La Crosse but I got wait-listed. That ended up being a blessing in disguise though because UW-Stevens Point was amazing. And then for law school, taking the LSAT was really hard. I had to take it twice to improve my score before I got into Valparaiso. And it’s really hard for me to talk about it, but let’s just say I didn’t pass the Bar on my first try. There were a lot of times I thought about giving up but I didn’t.”

KOD: “That’s amazing. I’m glad you didn’t quit.”

KOD: “Pretend I’m thinking about hiring you as my attorney to do some legal work for me. What do you bring to the table?”

SMC: “I am always upfront and honest with my clients. I like to think that I’m a pretty nice person to work with. And you’ll get a good product.”

KOD: “Pretend I’m a young attorney, fresh out of Law School. Tell me why I should apply at Epiphany Law.”

SMC: “Epiphany is a very unique environment in that – even though we have a ‘boss’ and managing partners and things like that – there isn’t the hierarchy that you find at most other firms. We are all willing to help each other and there is no “elitist” attitude that says ‘I don’t need you’ or ‘I’m better than you’ –“

KOD: “—Why is that a good thing for a young attorney?”

SMC: “Because you don’t know as much. Law School tries to prepare you, but there is no substitute for real world experience. Being here, I was able to learn a lot, very rapidly, because people were willing to share their real-world experience with me. The culture here helped me to have confidence even when I didn’t know all the right answers. I knew I had amazing people in my corner to help at any time.”

KOD: “Do you have any advice for someone that is in Law School right now?”

SMC: “Wherever you intend to practice law after you are done with school, go to that area during your breaks and make connections in that area the best that you can. Meet with attorneys, judges, business owners. Networking is absolutely essential and that is one thing they don’t teach you in law school.”

SMC: “Also, learn how to talk to clients. Clients ARE NOT stupid. They just don’t know the law like you do. It’s on you to learn how to explain things without coming across like you are arrogant. You have to learn how to explain things in a way clients can understand and relate in order to be successful.”

KOD: “I’m a new business owner. I don’t think I have any legal work for you… But I would like to establish a relationship with a good attorney because that seems like a smart thing to do. What should I do?”

SMC: “Call. You should absolutely call. I’m not going to try and give you any advice over the phone, but there are a few basic questions that I can ask to help me figure out if we should meet or not. You’re not going to get a bill for the conversation. I won’t push you into anything. We’ll figure out if we need to meet, and either way you will feel better knowing that you now have someone in your corner when you need them.”

KOD: “Give me one thing that people miss or do incorrectly a decent amount of the time when they try to do Estate Planning on their own?”

SMC: “Language. A good example of that is with a Power of Attorney. Power of Attorney’s can be ‘springing’ or ‘immediate’, and depending on how you word the language, you may be unintentionally giving someone else control over your decisions right now.”

KOD: “What is one thing that a new business owner might forget to do?”

SMC: “If someone sets up their business entity on their own, the State does not require them to provide a draft of their bylaws / operating agreement. So, if it’s not required, there are a lot of times when people just don’t have them altogether. Those documents are essential in laying out the fundamental aspects of how the business is to be run. It helps to protect the business owner when they have those documents.”

KOD: “How does it protect them?”

SMC: “If someone sues the business, and that business owner isn’t abiding by the fundamental rules of their organization, an attorney may be able to Pierce the Veil. It’s extremely easy to Pierce the Veil if that business owner never made fundamental rules to begin with.”

KOD: “Last question: Date 1 – Marry 1 – Punch 1: Lord Voldemort, Napoleon Dynamite, Austin Powers”

SMC: “Ugh…” … “Punch Lord Voldemort, Date Napoleon Dynamite, Marry Austin Powers.” … “Can’t I just punch all three?”

Thank You

A huge thank you to Sarah for taking some time to chat with me! She is truly a treasure to work with! Thank you once again to all the readers of this blog. Because of your great support I have been approved to continue to producing palatable legal and business content into and beyond the New Year!

From all of us at Epiphany, we hope you had a very Merry Christmas and we wish – but do not guarantee – you a Happy New Year!

 

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