Working at a law firm was never part of Jennifer Hannon’s life plan, but she is grateful for going off course.
Hannon, a shareholder in Godfrey & Kahn’s estate and trusts-administration practice group in Madison, originally planned to work in federal law enforcement. She enlisted in the U.S. Army to gain military experience — something she had thought would help with her career goals.
After serving as a combat medic for eight years, she earned undergraduate degrees in political science and international relations from the University of Wisconsin. Next up was the New England School of Law.
“I decided to work at a law firm over the summer to just see what it was like,” Hannon said. “I was surprised how much I liked it, so I switched gears.”
After graduation, the firm offered her a job in estate planning.
“I really enjoy estate planning. I am helping people with issues that are important to them,” Hannon said. “I never met two families that are the same and every plan is different.”
Hannon said her military experience has helped make her a better lawyer.
“I learned a lot about leadership in the Army and I also became a better listener,” she said. “You work with a lot of different people in the military, and you have to come together as a team even if you have little in common.”
At Godfrey & Kahn, Hannon is a member of the firm’s Women’s Leadership Forum, which provides female lawyers with an opportunity to learn, share and change things for the better for all lawyers at the firm.
“Jennifer truly defines what it means to be a woman leader in the legal industry,” said Nicholas Wahl, president and managing partner of Godfrey & Kahn. “She consistently utilizes her professional expertise to help her clients achieve their goals and dedicates personal time to helping charitable organizations flourish and younger attorneys thrive.”
Hannon is a firm believer in coaching, both formal and informal. “The people we mentor become better attorneys,” said Hannon, who, as part of Leadership Greater Madison, developed a program for elementary school students in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
“I also know that sometimes you just need to have a sounding board and I’m willing to be that to other attorneys and answer their questions, whatever they may be.”