There are a lot of similarities between lawyering and rodeoing, says Katie Woods, an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County, Texas.
“You’re always sizing up your competition. … You want to know what you’re up against to be successful in what you’re doing,” says Woods, who says her rodeo background also helps her in voir dire because she knows how to make a jury like her — “[m]uch like you want a horse to trust you and follow you wherever you want to go,” she says.
At the height of her rodeo career, Woods traveled frequently to amateur and professional-level rodeos and won big purses in barrel races — riding a horse in a clover pattern around three barrels in an arena.
She became a local rodeo queen. She later was the third runner-up in a statewide rodeo queen competition hosted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in California, where she grew up.
Then in 2004, Woods became Miss Rodeo USA for the International Professional Rodeo Association by winning a weeklong competition in the areas of etiquette, public speaking and horsemanship, among other things.
When her third year of law school at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law rolled around, Woods stopped traveling to rodeos and focused on school. She earned her law degree in 2010 and later that year she joined the Tarrant County DA’s office, where she prosecutes misdemeanors in Tarrant County Court-at-Law No. 6.
But Woods will never give up rodeoing. She’s on a team that competes in ranch rodeos, which focus on techniques like roping, tying and sorting cattle. In the near future, she hopes to resume barrel racing at smaller rodeos in Texas.
“It’s my one getaway from the rest of life. When I’m horseback, I don’t think about anything else going on in my life,” Woods says.
This article first appeared on Texas Lawyer’s Tex Parte blog.