Elizabeth Munnell (“Betsy“, to her clients and colleagues) was a partner for almost 25 years at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP (now Locke Lord, LLP). One of the pioneers in Edwards & Angell’s Boston office, Betsy joined her firm as a partner in 1985, six years out of law school, with a substantial book of business she had developed as a young associate at Choate Hall & Stewart. She was among the core group of “rainmakers” responsible for the growth of the Firm’s nationally recognized media and communications finance practice and has decades of experience representing lending institutions, private equity funds and businesses in structuring sophisticated debt and equity financings.
In addition to building a national practice, Betsy was one of the chief architects of her firm’s diversity program, chairing the Boston office’s first diversity committee and playing a critical role on EAPD’s firm-wide committee. She also chaired EAPD’s highly regarded Women’s Initiative, through which she co-founded the Firm’s first peer mentoring program, organized annual retreats, and created a business development curriculum offering practical skills training to the Firm’s women attorneys.
In 2009, Betsy embarked on a new career as a lawyer coach and business development consultant, drawing on her 30 years of experience and law practice growth to provide career guidance to attorneys of all ages and experience.
Betsy remains an outspoken advocate for women and minorities in the legal profession. A vocal presence online (including her blog, The Uncommon Sensei), Betsy is a frequent contributor to the ongoing debate on the future of legal education and practice. She favors renovating law school core requirements and associate training programs to include intensive instruction in finance, business strategies and other critical practical skills.
In 2015, Betsy partnered with Matt Rubins, a successful venture capitalist, angel investor and education entrepreneur, to develop a one-of-a-kind business education program based on their belief that the best way to become a true “trusted advisor” is to understand the client’s business. The new program is centered on a single complex case study that guides participating lawyers through the life of an acquisition and its debt financing (from term sheet to earnout dispute), requiring them to apply the finance, business strategies and valuation concepts they learn from Matt to the interpretation, negotiation and amendment of legal documents. This approach assures that participating lawyers will fully comprehend the critical role of business fluency in delivering superior legal work and building profitable client relationships.
Betsy is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. At HLS, she serves as a Visiting J.D. Adviser in the Office for Career Services. In collaboration with OCS and the HLS Women’s Law Association, Betsy offers a spring semester career coaching program for women law students transitioning to large firm practice, with the goal of maximizing their success in their summer jobs and in the first, crucial months of practice. She has also coached women students at Boston College Law School and Boston University Law School. Betsy serves on the Board of the American Bar Association’s Legal Career Central and on the Advisory Board of Suffolk University Law School’s Institute on Law Practice Technology. She is a former Trustee of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and a member of the Boston Bar Foundation’s Society of Fellows. Betsy has served on the Boston Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of the Profession. She has also consulted extensively to The Fullbridge Program, a coaching-intensive XBA business education program for law firm associates, advising on law program content, marketing strategies and brand awareness.
Like her husband, also a lawyer, Betsy grew up in New York City. They live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and have three daughters, aged 27, 22 and 19, an anxious but irresistible rescue dog and a beautiful, opinionated sun conure parrot.
Career Coaching for Lawyers: Testimonials from Clients and Colleagues
“Betsy is a ‘must have’ advisor for anyone who requires an understanding of the practice of law, its evolution and future trends, and how to be effective within it. She possesses a rare combination of creativity, unrelenting inquisitiveness, analytical thinking and passion for client success.”
April Gallagher, Global Head Strategic Marketing at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
“I engaged Betsy when I returned to a law firm after 15 years practicing in house. I could not have been more pleased. Betsy devised a well-organized plan for me that included tips on networking, assistance with initiating a presence on social media and guidance on publishing thought leadership pieces in my area of expertise. Betsy made herself available at any time by phone and email and she was invaluable in helping me prepare for key client pitches. And, perhaps most importantly, as a former law partner who built a successful practice herself, Betsy understood that building a practice cannot be done in a day. She was incredibly supportive through the mental ups and downs of my efforts. I can highly recommend Betsy and her services.”
Recent Lateral Partner, Boston
‘”Betsy is the only consultant in the legal industry who can coach for business development with credibility. Because she did it. She helped build an AmLaw 100 firm as an equity partner, focusing on debt and equity financing in the media/communication industries. She is that unique combination–one who can do and teach. Betsy understands the particular economics of the law firm business model and the elements of success: power and profitability.”
Rina Mayman, AVP Legal Counsel, MFS Investment Management; Former Director of Professional Development, Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP
“As a young corporate partner, Betsy built a practice that was at the top level of her peer group in Boston and may well have been the biggest practice of any woman lawyer in the city at the time. I am proud to have been her partner and to have witnessed firsthand her ability to take top quality legal skills to a whole new level through a combination of interpersonal qualities, a completely client-centric approach and an uncommon sense of industry focus.”
Steve Meredith, Partner, Choate, Hall & Stewart
“I participated in Betsy’s Women’s Coaching Program in Summer 2016. I had found myself at a transition point in my legal career. I had a small and growing practice, but was not yet managing a large practice or a lot of clients. I sought advice from Betsy with the goal of growing my practice, improving my skills, building confidence, excelling at client management, and more. Betsy definitely offered great advice! I was part of a group of five women attorneys (from both large and small firms), all of whom were at a similar stage in their careers. In the group sessions, Betsy advised us about business generation (including social media marketing), skill building, law firm politics, and client management. We also spent a lot of time discussing by phone my individual situation and goals for the future. It was all time well spent! I approached several different professionals before settling on Betsy and there are a few things that set Betsy apart from others in my mind. She really practiced law for an extended period of time, and she enjoyed doing so. She offered advice and assistance in an incredibly supportive, yet serious, manner. She truly believes that women can and should succeed as lawyers, even those of us with significant family obligations, and is committed to helping us to do so. I highly recommend Betsy for group and/or individualized coaching, especially for women attorneys at all career stages.”
Rachel Ziegler, Associate, Kaiser Law Group
“My firm was fortunate to bring in Betsy to coach and train each of our associates in business development. She tailored her approach to each lawyer’s personality, experience and professional goals. All of our associates emerged from this process with thorough, effective business development plans and, even more importantly, with the confidence and the energy to build their practices. Betsy worked collaboratively with my partners to gain insight, to keep us informed and to advance our common goals. It was a great experience.”
Jody L. Newman, Partner and Former Managing Partner (2007 – 2012), Collora LLP
“I asked Betsy for strategic advice as I was turning the corner from senior associate to young partner. Having been a practicing lawyer herself for many years, Betsy’s advice is not fluff. Our conversations, and the planning work that resulted, have led to real improvements in my business development strategies and real clarification of my goals. Highly recommended.”
Ted Folkman, Partner, Murphy & King
“Betsy’s excellent business development programming for women and individuals of color is informed by an exceptional understanding of the professional challenges they face as lawyers, by a passion for their success, and by her own experience building a successful practice. Her services are invaluable to both women attorneys and attorneys of color, as well as the organizations who are committed to seeing them succeed.”
Vernā Myers, Vernā Myers Consulting Group, LLC, Diversity Management Consulting
“Betsy is the best mentor a young attorney entering the world of Big Law could ask for. She is warm and friendly, yet candid and direct in her assessment of her mentees’ skills and recommendations on what further steps they need to take to succeed in their legal careers. Betsy leverages her years of experience in the industry, both as a partner at a large law firm and a consultant, to develop tailored programs for her students. She remembers very well what it is like to be a young associate and gives very helpful tips and advice on how to manage the workload, fit in networking, and balance high performance with being a thoughtful and supportive colleague. At the same time, she is very honest about the different challenges and opportunities women face in the work place, and helps young women figure out how to navigate them so that they can succeed and stay true to themselves and their priorities. If you are looking for a mentor who will be supportive, but will also help you develop by challenging you to pursue what you may at first perceive as daunting opportunities, she is your person. She is dedicated, empathetic, will spend as much time with you as you need, and is simply just a pleasure to talk with and learn from.”
Petra Plasilova, Harvard Law School ’16
“Betsy encouraged me to climb out from under my rock and got me up and running on Twitter and Hootsuite. She also helped me refine my LinkedIn profile and showed me simple ways to use LinkedIn more effectively. After years of dismissing the Internet as the province of short-lived media phenoms and irrelevant to my practice, I realized what I’d been missing: that I could leverage online tools to grow professional relationships—and in an authentic way. The EHMunnell Social Media Boot Camp is a must for anyone who’s ready to build a law practice.”
Ellen S. Lubell, Founder, Tennant Lubell
“Betsy worked with each of the summer associates at Edwards Wildman to build a personal career plan to help us navigate our months at the firm, the coming year at school, and our first year of employment after law school. Through her wise, strategic, and practical guidance, Betsy has provided me with a wholly new perspective on networking and a distinct view on how to approach a multitude of professional situations. Her patience and authenticity are inspiring and have driven me to take a more active role in charting my professional course, expanding my network and ensuring that I stay an informed, engaged, and invaluable member of society and any employment team in which I take part.”
Walter Rodriguez, Associate, Locke Lord, LLP (formerly, Edwards Wildman & Palmer), Boston College Law School ’15
“As a career advisor and mentor for the Harvard Women’s Law Association over the past several years, Betsy is a fantastic resource for female students in their second year of law school who are preparing for a summer associate position at a large law firm and, ultimately, a full-time associate position after graduation. Her one-on-one mentoring sessions with individual students are full of valuable information, based on decades of professional experience. Because of Betsy’s warm and generous personality, the law students who meet with her come away from the semester-long advising program with not only helpful career advice but also a meaningful mentoring relationship that continues beyond law school.”
Caroline Stern, Harvard Law School ’16, Associate, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP