Rachel Coll is an attorney turned Life & Relationship Coach at Rachel Coll Coaching. She began legal career as a judicial law clerk in Montgomery County, Maryland, and then joined the State’s Attorney’s Office for Montgomery County. Following a brief stint in private practice, she transitioned to the State’s Attorney office for Baltimore City working in the Special Victims’ Unit. She then returned to private practice before joining the DC Board of Elections, and eventually leaving the practice of law to build her Coaching practice.
We connected with Rachel to learn a little more about her coaching practice and what coaching has meant to her and her clients.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your professional journey, and your transition from the legal profession to your current role as a Life & Relationship Coach.
RC: I began my legal career as a judicial law clerk in Montgomery County, MD, really just to figure out what exactly I wanted to do. In law school, I thought maybe tax or property? But when I clerked for Judge David Boynton, it was clear to me that criminal law was my calling. I loved watching the attorneys on both sides, and thought they looked like they were having an absolute blast. I joined the State’s Attorney’s Office for Montgomery County after my clerkship, and it was exactly as I dreamed it would be. I LOVED working with my peers, the police, victims, the defense bar… it was the most I’ve learned in any job, and the fastest my brain was forced to grow! I worked there for 3 years, and then briefly entered private practice, but missed it so much, I returned to the State’s Attorney’s Office again (this time in Baltimore City) for a very different, but equally intense and rewarding experience. I worked in the Special Victims’ Unit there, on felony cases of sex offense and domestic violence. Despite the obvious challenges of these cases, I loved connecting with victims and figuring out a path to helping them feel like justice was served. When the State’s Attorney who hired me lost re-election, I returned to private practice again with a small firm in Rockville, MD. Ultimately, the local government pulled me back in, and I wrapped up my legal career with the DC Board of Elections, serving as an attorney advisor and public information officer.
During my time with the DC Board of Elections, I realized that although my professional life was exciting, and deeply satisfying, my romantic life was a mess. I always had great friendships and relationships with my family, but relationships with significant others felt so dramatic and overwhelming. I started to realize that I was the common denominator in my non-working love-life, and I hired my first life coach. Coaching is different than therapy or counseling – I’d tried both before, and found that there was a lot of focus on incidents from my past, and things crystalized in history that I just couldn’t change. I felt stuck with who and what I was, and like there was no hope for more stability. Coaching gave me hope. I saw that I was responsible for the way I was thinking NOW, and I could make any changes that I committed my mind to as long as I was willing to work, and feel a little uncomfortable doing so. My life changed forever. I got certified as a coach myself, not really knowing WHAT I would do with the certification, but knowing that I wanted to learn as much as I could. I started informally working with clients about 1.5 years ago, and as my client list grew, I decided to leave my full time legal career last December to focus on my coaching practice.
I never would have seen myself ending up here. Though lawyers, called counselors, thrive on problem solving with their clients, I did not see the path to life coach from law school graduation, in 2007. I’ve loved every minute of being a lawyer, but coaching is WHO I am. Now, I coach other lawyers on navigating the challenges in their romantic lives – it’s so rewarding to watch their analytical brains shift to something new.
Q: How has your new coaching practice developed?
RC: It was pretty organic, honestly. I got comfortable being REALLY open on social media, and just started sharing what I was learning. As I did, people reached out, and were interested in working together. I think there’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone, and so as people saw me admitting to the places where my life felt hard, they felt like they could trust me with their problems, and that maybe there was a solution. It took off from there.
Q: Why is coaching to help attorneys with romantic relationships so important?
RC: Attorneys are AMAZING. They want to help, they want to always be prepared, they’re perfectionists, they want to earn your trust, they ARE trustworthy. Amazing people become lawyers, and lawyers are a hard-working bunch. They change the world with WORDS. But, we lawyers can also be a bit analytical, argumentative, indecisive, and skeptical. We prepare for the worst, but hope for the best, which is a really difficult state of mind to take home with you. I find lawyers argue with their partners, and themselves, to try and change each other, or change their OWN wants/needs when it’s often best to walk away. I find lawyers also sometimes walk away too soon, convinced that what they’re looking for doesn’t exist. Finding the balance of being excellent at work, but well-adjusted, confident, trusting, and calm in a relationship – takes work. This is the work I do with my clients – so that they can keep crushing it at work, but feel totally happy and satisfied at home. It IS possible – I guarantee it.
Q: How do you view the health and emotional state of those you spend time with?
RC: It’s everything. I think lawyers tend to put their own self-care, physical and emotional, on the back burner so that they can take care of their clients and their cases, but it ALWAYS catches up to them. For sure, when I was in law school, and throughout my career, despite having relationships, I thought that spending time “working” on them was a waste of time I didn’t have. I was unwilling to put the time into figuring out my emotional health, and I think a lot of the dissatisfaction I felt in my personal life affected me at work. Sometimes, I’d dive deeper into my work to distract myself, but I was always looking for an external fix to internal pain. Working harder at your job can’t heal your emotional life, but it can for sure hinder it. I try to give attorneys space (at flexible times!) to focus on themselves for an hour a week.
Q: Can you share a success story?
RC: I genuinely feel like each client I’ve worked with has a success story, and they really run the gamut. I have a client who came to me after her fiancé cheated and left months before their wedding date, and a client who came to me ready to divorce his wife of 16 years, and just wanted coaching on making peace with the decision. They’ve transformed into clients who left relationships that weren’t working for them, and found new love that aligns with the results they want in their lives. My clients are all successes in that they see the power of their own minds in the outcomes of their lives. They’ve figured out that the people around them who have what they want are no better or more deserving, and they want to learn how to create results in their lives, too. My clients’ self-awareness and desire to take responsibility for their lives (rather than blame themselves) is what sets them up for success.
Q: What does a typical day look like?
RC: One of the benefits of coaching is that it’s done on zoom – so I am flexible with my clients as to time of day. Some prefer working together first thing in the morning, others prefer the lunch hour, and some prefer the end of the day. Depending on how many sessions I have on a given day (I coach every weekday) I will coach, and create free content for people who are on my mailing list or are following me on social media. It’s very important to me to also serve people who are not my clients, as much as possible. This work has literally changed my life, and the lives of my clients, and I really want to share as many of the breakthroughs I’ve experienced with people who may be struggling. As much as I love working one on one with clients, I love when I hear from webinar attendees or readers on social media that they get value from my posts. I write a social media post daily with some nugget of coaching – I also create stories on Instagram/Facebook and send a blog post of weekly coaching to anyone who subscribes to my mailing list – found at rachelcollcoaching.com. Frankly, a social media post brought ME to this work – and it changed everything for me – so I just hope to give some of that back in a small way.
Q: What does your future goal for your coaching practice look like?
RC: Honestly – my business is already in the format I want – so the goal is just to stay consistent. Possibly, down the road, there will be a course for group learning on relationships and lawyering, but I tend to think that relationship clients like the privacy and intimacy of a one on one call. Since we’re talking about sensitive issues, one on one coaching just makes the most sense to me. I currently have a 20-client capacity, and coach clients for 6 months at a time. That schedule feels right for me and my clients.
Q: What message do you want our audience of 40k attorneys to know?
RC: That prioritizing YOU and your romantic life is totally acceptable. That ignoring it, when you WANT that part of your life to be full, will only make relationships harder and more distracting. You think you’re putting your practice and your clients first, but you have NO idea how much your difficult romantic patterns are impacting your career. I certainly didn’t realize it until I got the help I needed. Coaching isn’t therapy – we’re not looking at WHY you are the way you are – we’re just figuring out HOW to make changes in your life starting now. You will be the best lawyer possible when you’re well rounded and satisfied, in every area of your life. Lawyers tend to be so service driven they forget themselves and postpone their happiness – which only functions as a disservice to themselves and their clients. If you’re struggling in love, you’re NOT alone and you can have a better experience.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share that we have not covered?
RC: Everyone needs coaching and no one needs coaching. There is no problem too big or too small to coach on. You don’t have to be totally desperate to hire a coach, and you also don’t have to be totally pulled together. It’s a modality that works for everyone because we ALWAYS have thoughts that aren’t serving us and there is always space to grow and increase our awareness. Coaching is simple. It’s practical. It’s not vague, or soft, or based on affirmations and meditations and crystals (although, I love all of those things!). It’s super pragmatic and straightforward. It appealed to me as a practicing lawyer because it didn’t require me to buy in to a whole world of self-help and self-development to benefit from it. If it worked for me, it will work for you, too. Don’t talk yourself out of feeling better – it’s so worth it.