Goldilocks and the Legal Career Coach

You may have heard that you shouldn’t sell therapy short just because the first therapist you chose wasn’t a good fit. The same goes for legal career counselors—the first one, or two, may not be right for you.

You know I’m a fan of career counselors and therapists. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that I had such a bad reaction to the first career advisor-type I paid to see, I was in tears by the time I hit the lobby. He had a JD, wasn’t a bad guy, and he gave what, in hindsight, was decent advice. But he had a curt manner when I needed reassurance and endless hand-holding, and I felt utterly overwhelmed by it all. Like going to see the drill sergeant when you needed the school nurse.

The next guy had a better bedside manner, so to speak, and I saw him several times. He wasn’t an attorney. We worked on interviewing techniques and LOTS of informational interview stuff. I think of him as the informational interview crack dealer. It was, again, decent advice, but I was really too depressed to go out and convincingly sell myself to a bunch of strangers via artificial networking. In hindsight, I’m not sure he understood that most attorneys wanting out of law probably suffer mild to severe depression. He hadn’t worked in law, after all.

Then there was the one who had a kind eye, a soothing voice, and legal credentials that beat mine all to hell. Yet there he was, doing career coaching and counseling. As it turned out, he and I both were INFPs on the good old Meyers-Briggs typology chart, so we really clicked. He was the one whose advice and help (plus my own efforts, of course) got me out of law practice. He was just right.

And that’s the lesson for today: keep going until you find the one that clicks, who gets you. Not that you won’t have to explain yourself, but when you do, this person will say something that makes you think, “Yeah, she gets it. She totally gets it. And I feel comfortable telling her more.”

4 thoughts on “Goldilocks and the Legal Career Coach

  1. You are so right about this. I too went through a number of coaches/counselors when I wanted to leave the law. Rejected some after one conversation, worked with others and paid them a significant sum of money before realizing we just didn’t mesh, and tried making myself fit with others who I thought had the right credentials. Once I hit upon the right one though, it was like magic. In spite of not being a J.D., she guided me out of the law and right into an incredible career.

  2. Absolutely! One of the four conditions of successful coaching is that you really connect with. Coaching is very personal and you want to enjoy communicating with your coach. Do not settle for any coach. Be picky. You will know deep inside when you have found YOUR coach.

  3. Thank you for this blog. I’m finding myself nodding my head over and over again. My experience with a career recruiter was similar to your first experience with a career counsellor. ” Why the hell would anyone hire you?” was one of her opening lines, when I expressed an interest in an alternative career. Lovely!

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