Career Goals Managing Self Practice Management Problem solving Wellness

Why lawyers work with a coach

Written by Allison Wolf

I asked ten lawyers last week,  “why might you suggest that a lawyer try working with a coach?”  Here’s what they told me:

One – Business Lawyer:

Working with a coach gives you insight not only in your career experience but also the career experiences of countless other attorneys.  Having a deeper insight into yourself and an insight into how others have handled the same challenges you face allows you to make better strategic decisions.

Two – Research Lawyer:

Three things a coach can help with:

  1. How to plan out the steps necessary to make career changes to meet personal and professional goals.
  2. Work through confidence and communication issues that hold you back in your professional life.
  3. How to manage difficult work relationships.

Three – Business Lawyer:

If professional athletes can benefit from coaching, lawyers can too. Small changes can lead to large improvements in practice and life.

Four – IP Lawyer:

Having a person who could act as an independent sounding board and guide to help me evaluate what my true wants, needs, and priorities are was invaluable in helping me work through an extremely difficult decision as to the appropriate work/firm environment for me–despite an outwardly very successful career, I was so burned out in the rut in which I had found myself that a career at Starbucks was only half-jokingly on my list of possibilities.  Along the way, Allison also helped me to develop some new skills that have been invaluable in making my decision a successful one, and her practice management and business development tips have helped to ensure that my personal practice is growing in a good way.  Sorry Starbucks but I am sticking with the practice of law!

Five – Civil, Family Law, and Collaborative Lawyer:

The first thing that comes to mind is “to help you see through the fog!” A coach can help a lawyer find a way to use their legal education and experience in a variety of ways to meet the lawyer’s values and the kind of life they want to live. I think a coach is particularly critical for lawyers who are not interested in traditional legal practice and want to find unique ways to practice law. The legal profession has a way of making lawyers feel like failures for not pursuing a traditional practice, working with a coach helps lawyers find a way to exit stressful practices and careers that are harmful to their well being.

Six – Commercial Litigator and Environmental Lawyer:

If there is something getting in the way of your practice objectives, you might want to try a coach who is used to spotting the real issues. You might be surprised at what they are. From there your strategy will be on solid ground.

For me, after 25 years of practice, I need fresh ideas, encouragement, and someone to hold me to account. My coach does all of that.

Seven – In-House Counsel:

  • to be better, happier, and more successful at work and life
  • to clarify goals and reach them faster
  • to gain perspective on your experience and skills and leverage them strategically to advance your career
  • to receive advice and guidance if you are contemplating a career or job change and through that transition
  • to feel supported and feel like you have someone in your corner who is on your side and whose job it is to help you succeed

Eight – Civil Litigator:

I would recommend a coach to help with focusing one’s marketing efforts. We all have a limited amount of time and want to ensure that we get the most “bang” for our marketing buck.  I think having a professional opinion about where to focus and what sorts of efforts are likely to be fruitful is really helpful.  Yes, there is time spent meeting with the coach but there is a significant benefit from taking the time to carefully consider what things to take on. I also think that having a coach creates some accountability which is motivating, at least for me and helps me stay on track.

Nine – Civil Litigator:

  • To work through professional challenges with a someone to can offer a third party perspective, with the lawyers – and not the firm’s – interests top of mind.
  • To assist with personal challenges where they are having an impact on work (or otherwise).
  • To plan one’s career to ensure that it is satisfying.
  • A cheerleader, when one is needed.

Ten – Family and Wills & Estates Lawyer

For a number of years, I’d been struggling in practice.  I made adjustments from time to time which kept me going but I knew I had to make some major adjustments.

I researched – so to speak – options, and had what I thought were some good ideas, but couldn’t seem to put a concrete change plan together.

I had read about life/business coaching and found the concept very interesting.  In some of the CBA WELLNESS materials, I read about Allison Wolf who coaches lawyers.

I decided to retain her to coach me.  The process isn’t finished yet but I am well on my way to a practice transition.

I had many good ideas, the pieces of the puzzle so to speak, but it was though Allison’s analysis and encouragement that I have been able to put them together into a plan.  At one point I became discouraged. Allison guided me through that brief period.

I believe as lawyers we often have the idea we know it all so to speak. We are very knowledgeable and skilled or we wouldn’t be lawyers. Career transition, in any career situation, however, is an area of its own.  I needed help in this transition and Allison has and is continuing to give that help.



About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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