Can a Career Coach Help Advance Your Legal Career?

Coaching and advise, two business woman working together.
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If you’re feeling stuck in your legal career, maybe it’s time to consider a career coach or some other similar option (if a full career coaching package isn’t an option).

Career Coach

What can a career coach help with? Lots of things!

  • Clarifying your goals: It’s one thing to know that your goals should be SMART, but it’s another thing to actually create actionable goals. A career coach can help you clarify your goals so that you’re more likely to achieve them.
  • Prioritizing: Having goals is great, but can you really achieve all of them all at once? Having an objective outside resource to hold your feet to the fire about which goals are most critical and should be focused on in a given moment can be invaluable.
  • Accountability: One reason many people achieve more at work than in their personal life is that at work, there’s typically a boss telling you what to do! A career coach can help create similar accountability for your self-directed goals, so they don’t fall by the wayside when things get busy at work.
  • Being a sounding board: It’s important to have people you can bounce ideas off of without fear. Ideally, a coach is a good listener and will hear you out about ideas for your career without immediately judging those ideas. Sure, you can talk to friends and family, too, but they have more invested in your decisions than a coach does!
  • Helping you negotiate: When the time is right to make a career move, you’ll probably need to negotiate the parameters of your new job offer. Or, if you decide to stay where you are, you might want to negotiate a raise. Many career coaches are experts in negotiating (some are even former lawyers), which can be invaluable in strategizing about how to get what you want with your next career move.
  • Helping with work-life balance: Almost inevitably, work-life balance is an issue in a legal career. Having a coach around can help you make decisions about when (and how) to say "No" to opportunities at home or at the office.
  • Suggest resources: A good coach will likely suggest other resources (besides them!) for helping you succeed in your career. A competent coach will be up-to-speed on the most modern theories of business success, so you can spend your time learning and applying these ideas, not searching them out.

    Affording a Career Coach

    Okay, having a career coach sounds great! How can you possibly afford one? The reality is that coaching can be expensive, but there are low-cost options.

    For example, if you’re a woman, and have an adjusted household gross income of under $40,000 you may qualify for 12 one-on-one coaching sessions. Find out more on the Women for Change Coaching Community website. This article, You Can’t Afford Coaching? What to Do, also has some useful suggestions, such as creating a mastermind group or finding an accountability partner.

    Even if you can’t find one person to fill every function of a coach for free, you might be able to assemble different pieces of the puzzle from different places: an accountability partner, trusted friends or law school classmates who serve as a sounding board, and so on.

    In addition, ask around to see if anyone knows of new coaches just starting out. Often, these folks will offer reduced rates to build their practice and get testimonials. If you’re dedicated to the process, many new coaches would love to work with you (and might even be required to, in order to be certified).