Career Coaching for Lawyers: Working 1:1 with Sarah Cottrell [TFLP145]

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know that I practiced law for ten years, and now, I help unhappy lawyers ditch their soul-sucking jobs. On this blog, I share advice for aspiring former lawyers and interviews from my podcast to help you through the process of leaving and finding a new career. 

Today, I want to talk to you about why I didn’t do career coaching for lawyers when I first started Former Lawyer and what got me started doing 1:1 coaching. I’ll also talk about what it looks like to work with me and how you can get started.

Are you ready? Let’s get going!

Why I Didn’t Want To Do 1:1 Coaching

When I first started Former Lawyer, my biggest concern was not taking advantage of the desperation lawyers feel when they want out of the legal practice. When you leave the law, finding “the one answer” can be tempting. 

But based on my experience and from interviewing and working with other lawyers, there is no “one answer” for what you should do next. And, to be honest, there are so many scams in the online and coaching worlds. That’s why I didn’t want to be in coaching or call myself a coach for lawyers. I wanted no part of the scammy association, but I knew I wanted to help lawyers.

The feeling of community from having other lawyers understand why I wanted to leave helped me make my decision. So, I decided to focus on providing that first. That’s why I created The Former Lawyer Collab, which has improved over time.  

Now, there’s a robust curriculum out of that, called The Former Lawyer Framework, that I’ve created to help people move through the process of figuring out what they want to do after leaving the law.

That curriculum comes from a combination of my experience, the research I’ve done around these issues, the interviews I’ve done, and continually tweaking the information and the resources to improve it. 

When I Decided To Call Myself A Coach For Lawyers

When I first started the Collab, I would have never used the term “coach” to describe myself. I was very resistant to using that term because I had seen it misused in so many ways and didn’t want to be associated with that. 

However, as time went on, it became clearer that the work that I was doing was coaching and consulting. My resistance to calling myself a coach created this situation where I would ramble on about my work, trying to avoid using the term “coach.” But ultimately, people were like, “Oh, you’re a career coach.”

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that even though I’ve seen so many “coaches” who I believe are taking advantage of people, I know I’m not one of them. I also realized that the term “coach” is useful, and I’m just wasting my time trying to explain my work while trying to avoid saying it. 

In short, I just needed to get over myself. So, in the early part of this year, I finally got over it and started calling myself a career coach for lawyers and a consultant. 

When I Decided To Do 1:1 Coaching

The other reason that I finally decided to call myself a coach for lawyers was for a more personalized approach. Some of my clients in The Collab wanted more of a dedicated approach and level of support. They liked the accountability of the 1:1 calls and working together. So, I started doing that in addition to all the group coaching I do in the Collab. 

I enrolled in an ICF-approved coaching program because I was adamant that my clients know I am dedicated to a certain ethical code for coaching. I also started quietly offering 1:1 coaching to some clients who couldn’t join the collab for various reasons. 

It was a much more individualized look at the process than the Collab. I’m able to look at someone’s exact situation and recommend what to do or the resources they need based on their particular situation and needs. 

What It’s Like To Do 1:1 Coaching With Me

Now, I want to share a bit about what it’s like to do 1:1 coaching with me. If you want to work with me 1:1 instead of joining the Collab, for whatever reason, here’s what that looks like:

I work 1:1 with lawyers over a 12-week course. We meet for an hour every week and work through whatever issues or questions you have about finding a new career. 

There’s a framework that I work through with you so we can identify:

  • What you actually want to do as a post-legal career
  • Your personality and values
  • Your skills and strengths 

I also help you find information, figure out what jobs to apply for, and help you put together cover letters and a resume. Basically, I’m a coach, consultant, and a combination of support and accountability for you. 

How To Apply For 1:1 Coaching With Me

If you’re interested in 1:1 coaching with me, book a free 30-minute consult. We’ll get on the call, and go through any of your questions about working with me and whether it would be a good fit for you. 

At the end of the call, assuming it’s a good fit, I’ll send you a copy of my 1:1 coaching agreement which you can review and take as long as you want if you decide you want to move forward. 

Lastly, you’ll sign it and pay the fee. You can pay one lump sum or you can split the payments up over the three months. You’ll get a link to fill out your intake form, and then we get started. 

Sign Up For 1:1 Coaching With Me Today!

Whether you’ve been a lawyer for 2 or 20 years, this could be a good fit for you. I’ve worked with many people who have had full-fledged careers in the legal practice, and I’ve also worked with people who left the law relatively early. 

If this is a worry for you, book a consult call, and I can fill you in on why this is for lawyers at any stage in their career.  As I said, I’m only working with a limited number of people, so if you’re interested in 1:1 coaching for lawyers with me, sign up as soon as possible. And, if it’s too early in your journey for career coaching, feel free to grab my free guide, First Steps to Leaving the Law.

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Mentioned In This Article:

1:1 Coaching With Sarah

Former Lawyer Collaborative

The Former Lawyer Framework

International Coaching Federation

First Steps To Leaving The Law

Hi, and welcome to The Former Lawyer Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Cottrell. I practiced law for 10 years and now I help unhappy lawyers ditch their soul-sucking jobs. On this show, I share advice and strategies for aspiring former lawyers, and interviews with former lawyers who have left the law behind to find careers and lives that they love.

Hello everyone. Today I want to talk to you about why, when I first started Former Lawyer, I didn't work with people one-on-one for career coaching, what got me started working with people one-on-one for career coaching, and what it looks like today if you want to work with me one-on-one.

When I first started Former Lawyer, and I've shared about this elsewhere, but one of my biggest concerns when I started a Former Lawyer was that I not take advantage of the desperation that many lawyers feel to get out of their jobs. I know if you're listening to this you probably have a good sense of what I'm talking about.

When you are a lawyer and you realize you don't want to be doing what you're doing and you don't know what to do, it can be so easy to go and try to find “the answer”. I really believe, based on my own experience and the experience of other lawyers who I've known or who I've observed go through a process of leaving the law, I really believed that it was important for people to know that there wasn't one “answer” and that no one had the one “secret”.

Also, let's be real, if you have any exposure to the world of online business, online coaching, that sort of thing, you know that there is some super shady stuff going on. I felt like everywhere I looked, there was someone holding themselves out as a coach who was either misrepresenting themselves, who was not sufficiently knowledgeable about the thing that they were claiming they could help people with, there was just so much, frankly, scamminess in the online space and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it but I really wanted to be able to help lawyers.

I also knew that for me, the community piece, the piece of having other lawyer or lawyers who really understood why it is that I wanted to leave the law so that I didn't have to explain, had been a huge part of my own experience and so that was what I focused on providing first. That is why I created my program, The Former Lawyer Collaborative, which at the time of this recording has been running for a little over two years, and it has evolved and improved over time, there's now a very robust curriculum which is The Former Lawyer Framework that I've created to help people move through this process of figuring out what it is that they want to do.

That curriculum is basically from a combination of my own experience and research and reading that I've done around these issues, all of the interviews I've done with people for the podcast, working with people inside of the Collab and continually tweaking and improving the information and the resources, and all those sorts of things.

But when I first started the Collab, I would not have used the term coach to describe myself. I actually was very resistant to using the term coach because I had seen it misused in so many ways and I just didn't want to be associated with some of the griftiness that I had seen.

However, as time went on—and you may have heard me talk about this before—but essentially the way that you would describe the work that I was doing was coaching and consulting. My resistance to calling myself a coach created this situation where I would be talking to someone trying to explain what I did and they would have to listen to me go on a multi-minute ramble of my existential angst around all the things that I did when I worked with people, and ultimately, there were multiple situations where people were like, “Oh, so you're a career coach.”

Eventually, finally, late last year I was like, “Okay, I know that I do not want to take advantage of people. I know that I've seen a lot of coaches who I believe are taking advantage of people.” I also know that the term coach is a useful term, and frankly, no one cares about my five-minute monologue about all the things that I do in the ways that I support people and provide resources for them and consult on various pieces of their career exploration journey, whether that's resume stuff, whether that's prepping for interviews, whether that's finding people to reach out to and talk with about what particular careers might be like, anyway, I just realized like, “Okay, I just need to get over myself.” At this point, I am just being a little bit too precious.

The other reason that I came to that realization is that with my clients in the Collab, from time to time, there would be people who wanted a more dedicated personalized level of support. There are some people who really like having the accountability of like, “Hey, we are going to be having weekly one-on-one calls for X number of weeks to work on either a particular piece of the process or just the overall process,” and so I started doing that in addition to all of the work that I was doing in terms of group coaching inside of the Collab and I really loved it.

I love running the Collab because it makes the process and the resources that you need in terms of figuring out what's next accessible to a lot of people who might not have the ability to engage in a one-on-one coaching relationship. I also really loved getting to work with people one-on-one because there's pretty much nothing that I love more than getting to really know someone to look at all of the data in terms of the various assessments that I recommend people do, to figure out a strategy in terms of how to get the information that they might need, about the various careers that they're interested in, or brainstorm about possible careers that would be a good fit for them based on their particular constellation of strengths, values, and skills, etc.

To be honest, I loved it even more than I thought I would. As time went on, I've been running the Collab and I've also been doing that other work and I realized that there are lawyers who need the help that I've been able to provide to people inside of the Collab container who are not necessarily ever going to join the Collab for various reasons.

One of the reasons is that we do have right now two monthly group calls, so you can get coaching every month twice a month but those calls are at particular times and not everyone's schedule works with a group coaching and call schedule and they need to have more ability to schedule on timeline that works for them, for example.

In the early part of this year, I finally got over the whole calling myself a coach thing was just like, “Just call yourself a lawyer career coach and consultant, Sarah, and stop being such a drama queen about it.” Then I also enrolled in an ICF approved coaching program because one of the things that's really important to me is that my clients know that I am dedicated to a particular ethical code with respect to coaching which has certain markers and certain requirements, and that's what ICF, the International Coaching Federation has and so I enrolled in that program early this year.

At the same time, I started quietly offering one-on-one to people who are not in the Collab who are just wanting to work with me individually to essentially work through a process that's similar to what people might go through in the Collab but it's more individualized where I'm able to look at their situation and say, “Okay, let's do these things, let's do these things. Here's some stuff that you might want to work on,” and help them, be a thought partner to them to help them figure out, “Okay, what do you want to do next? What is that going to look like in terms of action steps towards figuring things out?” etc.

I'm still working with a very limited number of people one-on-one. Right now, I typically am on boarding, at most, one person a month depending on my schedule, but that is what's happening with me and working with people one-on-one. I wanted to share a little bit about what it is like to work with me one-on-one for people who might be listening who maybe have thought about the Collab in the past, or even you heard about it and you're like, “Well, that's just not going to work for me for this or that reason.”

Right now, if you want to work with me one-on-one outside the context of the Collab, I work with people inside of a 12-week coaching package. That means that we work together for 12 weeks, we meet weekly for an hour. Each week, we work through whatever issues, questions, etc., that you have. As I mentioned before, I have a framework that I work with people to work through so that we can identify what it is that they're actually wanting to do, their values, their strengths, their skills, their personality, all of these things, and then to actually execute in terms of going out, getting information, figuring out what types of jobs they want to apply for, putting together cover letter and resume, all of these things.

When I'm working with someone one-on-one, I can help review those cover letters and resumes. Basically, when I'm working with someone one-on-one, I am a combination of support, accountability, coach, consultant. We can talk about the differences between those two things at some other point, but essentially helping them think through what questions they really need to answer, how to go about answering those questions, what questions maybe they haven't thought of, and then putting the whole picture together.

What happens if you are interested in working with me one-on-one? The first step is to have a consult call, because let's be real, I'm just going to be honest, if we're going to be working together for 12 weeks and we're going to be spending at least an hour together, because not only do we do a live Zoom every week, you also have access to me via Voxer, which is a voice messaging app so we can also talk asynchronously throughout the weeks in between the calls and therefore there needs to be a consult because you need to make sure that you actually want to work with me and I need to make sure that I want to work with you.

If someone's interested in working with me one-on-one, they can go to the page on my website with the information about working one-on-one. There's a button to book a free 30-minute consult. We get on the call, we talk through any of your questions about working together one-on-one whether it would be a good fit for you. I am never going to tell you that I think that working with me one-on-one is the thing for you if I do not think that it is a good fit or if I think there's either something else or someone else, another person who might be a better fit.

I do not like feeling pressure, sales pressure at all, in any situation. I actively recoil against it. As a result, I probably overdue the degree to which there is no sales pressure. I have definitely had people say, “So can you send me the link so I can join?” because I am so committed to not creating a situation where you're on a call with me and you feel like, “I need to make a decision right now,” or whatever.

All of that to say, we'll get on a call, we can talk through whether it's a fit, and then at the end of the call, assuming that I think it would be a good fit, I will send you a copy of my one-on-one coaching agreement which you can review and take as long as you want if you decide you want to move forward. You sign, you pay. You can pay one lump sum or you can split the payments up over the amount of months that we're going to work together for 12 weeks, obviously, that's three months, and then you get a link to fill out your intake form and we get started. That is how it works when you are working with me one-on-one.

I also wanted to say, because this has come up several times recently, some lawyers who are farther along in their careers, say 15, 20 years, come to me or ask questions and they're like, “Does your program work really for me? Is working with you really for me or is this mostly people who are earlier in their career?” It's so interesting because a large percentage of the people who I work with are roughly 20 years into practice, basically you've had a whole career.

A lot of people are like, “Yeah, I've had this whole career but literally, I knew from law school or my first year of practice that this wasn't the thing,” or “I've been trying to get out for 10 years and I maybe even did make an exit in some way but then ended up getting back into the law for various reasons.” The reason I'm mentioning that is that I have found that in terms of people who are drawn to working with me one-on-one, it's often people who are more in that range.

If you are listening and you are someone who is 20-ish years into your career and you're thinking like, “Is something like this really for me?” The answer is yes. Also, if you are two years into your career, this is also something that is available for you. But I just wanted to say that because literally this week, the week that I'm recording this episode, multiple times, I have had people reach out to me or people join the Collab who are around 20 years in and be surprised that there are so many people at a similar tenure who are working with me.

Because a lot of people, especially in that range of experience in legal practice, I think it seems like there's this extra level of feeling like they're the only ones, and you're not the only one. That is all about why I didn't do one-on-one coaching to start because I was being weird about being called a coach, how I moved into working with people one-on-one, how I'm working with people one-on-one now, and what it's like.

Of course, as always, if you have any questions, if you think that this is something that sounds like it could be a fit for you, I would love to talk with you. You can go to the website and look at the page with more information about working one-on-one, the details, the price, and all of that. You can also just email me at [email protected] I'm happy to send you the link with that information as well so that we can get on a consult call and see if it might be a good fit for you. Like I said, I'm still taking a very limited number of clients because I do have clients who I'm working with in other capacities, like inside of the Collab. If it's something that you're interested in, I always recommend that people sign up for a consult pretty much as soon as they know that they are interested because I do fill spots each month, first come first served obviously.

If you're feeling drawn to working with me one-on-one, if that sounds like something that could be helpful for you, I would love to have a conversation with you. Feel free to book a call. I feel so incredibly grateful that I get to do this, that I get to help people make a change in their career and improve their lives and go from being a practicing lawyer to something else entirely. All right, that is it from me for this week. I will talk to you next week.

Thanks so much for listening. I absolutely love getting to share this podcast with you. If you haven't yet, I invite you to download my free guide: First Steps to Leaving the Law at formerlawyer.com/first. Until next time, have a great week.