Woods' Path Leads to Law

Woods' Path Leads to Law



When Shannon Woods OT'00 set out from Chariton for college in 1996, she planned to be an FBI agent, but she ended up on a different criminal justice path as a lawyer.

Shannon chose BVU's Graduate & Professional Studies four-year program at Indian Hills Community College that offered an associate's degree from Indian Hills and a BVU bachelor's degree because the combined program for criminal justice is one of the most respected in the state. According to Shannon, "The professors had an enormous amount of field experience, and that provided great insight as to how the concepts we were learning applied to the real world."

After completing an internship with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Shannon realized she could continue her education and stay in the field of criminal justice by becoming a lawyer. "My mother attended law school... so I like to think it runs in my blood," she says.

Shannon received her Juris Doctorate from Drake University School of Law in 2003, and joined the law firm of Harrison, Moreland, Webber & Woods, P.C. in Ottumwa. "I have loved practicing law since the moment I started," says Shannon.

In 2008, her husband Ryan's career relocated them to Bloomfield, so Shannon decided to open her own law practice. Since going into private practice, Shannon's specialties have been in the areas of family law, business law, and real estate law.

Last year, Shannon realized that her practice had grown to where she could no longer manage it without either joining a larger firm or hiring an associate. She decided to become a member of Whitfield & Eddy, P.L.C. and now has an office in both of their downtown Des Moines and Ankeny locations. "I chose to join a larger firm because having great lawyers surround you every day only forces you to become better yourself. I now have added health law to my resume and work closely with a few of my partners, which is a welcome change."

Shannon credits her BVU education for preparing her for law school and her career.

"There is no question that the undivided attention I received at BVU helped me not only apply for law school, but also succeed once I was there," says Shannon. "My professors, and even the administrators, helped me prepare for the LSAT, wrote letters of recommendation, and supported me when I needed it. I left feeling so indebted to them that the first thing I did upon graduation was go back and teach as an adjunct professor at the Ottumwa site."

"I inherited the desire to help others succeed from my time at BVU and watching how many people helped me in the same way. We have the chance to make a difference — we should all be wise enough to take it."

Shannon's husband Ryan is a principal in the Southeast Polk School System, and they enjoy running in a handful of half-marathons each year. They have two children, Zoie, age 9, and Kai, age 5.