Donna Shestowsky

Training from a J.D. with a Ph.D. in Psychology

Dr. Shestowsky is a Professor of Law and Director of the Lawyering Skills Education Program at the University of California, Davis. She earned a J.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford University and an M.S. in Psychology from Yale University. She was also a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

Dr. Shestowsky’s work appears in top publications in both Psychology and Law, including the Stanford Law Review, Law and Human Behavior, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Her legal and psychological commentary has been featured in national sources such as CNN, NPR, and the New York Times.

Dr. Shestowsky provides training and education services to corporations, law firms, and national organizations. She has tested her approach against other methods by coaching law students in negotiation competitions since 2006 and client counseling competitions since 2010. Her teams routinely advance to the finals at the national level of the competition circuit. Former students won the world championship in the international law student negotiation competition.


Using a research-based methodology that is tailored to each client’s needs, Dr. Shestowsky creates customized training programs, presentations, and interactive workshops. She focuses on maximizing her clients’ skills and confidence by teaching them strategies based on psychological research and showing them how and why they work. She also provides one-on-one coaching to provide personalized training in the areas of negotiation and client counseling.

Dr. Shestowsky’s philosophy is that effective lawyering is part art and part science. It is science in that it involves understanding the empirical research on strategies that “work,” and the contexts in which they work. It is an art in that each individual will use the strategies in ways that are shaped by their unique style and personality. Understanding the science, and then artfully practicing how to implement it, is the key to successful lawyering.

When lawyers break ineffective behavioral patterns and start practicing effective strategies as early as possible, they can significantly accelerate their career trajectories. The ultimate goal of Dr. Shestowsky’s training and coaching is to help new lawyers add as much value as possible to their employers and clients from the very start of their careers and to help them better enjoy their professional journey.

Workshop Topics

The Psychology
of Negotiation

How can you help your clients get what they want in a negotiation? Whether you want to make a deal or settle a case, applying psychological research can help you gain an edge in any negotiation. In this highly interactive session, you will learn award-winning strategies for preparing for, and conducting, negotiations. You will also hone your skills by participating in a negotiation simulation.


Want to understand the core differences between various ADR procedures but don’t know where to begin? This popular workshop will help you understand the similarities and differences amongst negotiation, mediation, and commercial arbitration and the roles that attorneys and clients play in each. Dr. Shestowsky will share her proprietary research-based method for helping clients understand the key differences amongst ADR options and making decisions about which to pursue.

Client Interviewing
and Counseling

This workshop will help you learn the nuts-and-bolts of conducting an initial interview with a new client and providing preliminary legal advice. Dr. Shestowsky will walk you through each stage, from greeting the client to exiting the interview. Her “best practices” approach draws on psychological research to help you inspire client confidence and build solid relationships.


Learning can improve exponentially when practice is paired with immediate, personalized feedback. To help you gain an extra edge, Dr. Shestowsky offers personalized coaching sessions in the areas of client counseling and negotiation strategy.

Following the session, you will receive a written memo identifying your strengths and how to highlight them in future lawyering situations, recommendations for improving your skills, and a personalized professional development plan to help you achieve your skills goals.

Let’s Get Started

Let’s Get Started