Divorce Coaching for Law Firms and Their Clients

A certified coach serves as a “concierge” or “point person” for your divorce client and reduces stress and frustration for your clients and for your legal team.

by: Lisa Zonder

Coaching & Change written on Newton's cradle

By Lisa Zonder • CDC Certified Divorce Coach® and practicing Family Law Attorney in CA

You are in good company if you feel stressed and anxious some of the time. You are in the majority. This according to an ABA survey which found that 83% of surveyed attorneys who report that they are stressed out at least some of the time. I don’t have a specific statistic on it, but my sense is that if you polled divorce lawyers, especially those handling high conflict and domestic violence cases, the statistics for stress would be even higher. Many professionals have been in the field so long that they are numb to the stress or fail to give adequate consideration to the impact of stress. Have you given due consideration to outsourcing some of your stress? Not just “passing the buck” by assigning the case to an associate. The associate will just push the issues above his pay grade back up the “food chain” and it lands right back in your lap.

You may not have heard about outsourcing your client’s stress to a certified divorce coach. You might view us as a concierge service or “point person” who helps keep your client on track rather than using you as their arm-chair therapist or punching bag. It’s true that not every client can afford the service. For those who have a divorce professional team, most will see savings when they use a divorce coach since they will make more efficient use of your time.

The divorce coach is not there to step on your toes or give legal advice. The trained certified coach at WO40, supports your client to show up as a credible client for you. Don’t be too quick to dismiss this. Your clients will thank you when they are less overwhelmed. It’s a win-win for you and your client. It won’t cut into your billable hours since the divorce coach is not performing any legal work. You may be left wondering then what is the role of the divorce coach.

Lisa Zonder headshot

As a transformative divorce coach, I hold space for my coaching clients who come in with a tsunami of questions (thank you Jessica Ashley for this term) and spew their divorce story like a “firehose”(thank you Pegotty Cooper of CDC for this term). We get into a coaching zone with your clients to help them think more clearly. We are a sounding board and a resource to help them sort through frustrations and develop resiliency.

Depending on the scope of our work with a Coachee, we may end up assisting them to pull together all of their financial documents to deliver to you and your team. We do not fill out the mandatory financial forms (Schedule of Assets and Debts and Income and Expense Declaration). We are ensuring that the Coachee can cooperate with your basic expectations of them. As such, we do not detract from your ability to complete the financial disclosures whether through the law firm or your appointed forensic accounting firm.

We can work with Coachees on triggers and boundaries. It’s not uncommon for divorce clients to have a deep emotional need to engage their divorce lawyers in their emotional stuff, probably for at least 50% of the time they spend with you. Their grieving through failures, fears of rejection and feelings of being alone and anger are real. It’s a wonder that divorce clients understand the family law process let alone have the ability to work well with the divorce legal and financial team. The transference and countertransference will likely cause issues among the professionals.

The Divorce Coachee may need help showing up calm and in control prior to a negotiation, mediation or court. The Coachee may need help transitioning back to the workforce. You can get your client the help she needs with communication and setting realistic goals.

As a transformative divorce coach, I can also be a resource to your team if they are experiencing any difficulty with a client.

Let’s step up our game and reimagine the client being treated as a whole person not just a client requiring you to file a motion.

Offering this concierge service will set you apart from other family law firms. As a certified family law specialist and a certified divorce coach, I am uniquely positioned to support you and your clients through a traumatic time to a time when life can be good again. I am likewise equipped to work with your client on divorce transition and recovery.

Well trained and certified divorce coaches are said to be the missing piece of the puzzle in the divorce field.

Lisa Zonder is a Member of WO40 Coaching, LLC in Westlake Village, CA.