Welcome to WILL!
If you are an attorney, who wants to be DONE with dread, lack of fulfillment and demands…
If you want to wake up happy to go to work, then end your day satisfied and able to truly enjoy your evenings, weekends and vacations… I am pleased to meet you!
I’m Elena Deutsch, Founder of WILL.
In 2016, just after a milestone birthday, I received a wake up call from the universe.
I was on vacation with my family in Cape Cod. One morning at 5:30 am, I woke up as an idea shook me out of bed. I slid over to the couch and wrote feverishly. The words “women interested in leaving law” flowed out of my pen. I knew I had to create WILL.
Two years earlier my mom had died. By the summer of 2016 I was through the worst of the grief.
I was also fresh off the success of helping some amazing women leave big law. Our work inspired me beyond anything else in my profession experience.
The success of these women, plus my personal story of having an attorney father who lost his way, unlocked something inside me. (More on my dad below.)
After that Cape vacation, I summoned my courage, and told my business partner (and best friend!) I wanted to branch out on my own to create WILL.
Some WILL members continue practicing law, others do something completely new!
WILL members apply their passion, skills and kick-ass work ethic to a variety of new opportunities. Those have included…
- In-house jobs at startups
- Non-legal roles in operations, people development and more
- Decompress from big-law and explore creative options such as writing
- Non-profit work in social service or the arts
- Begin entrepreneurial ventures that range from starting own firms, speaking careers, and goods or services-based businesses
No matter what, they all experience more freedom and joy!
My mom married my dad when she was 21. When they met, she had been living with her parents in Queens and working as a dental hygienist. After having my brother and I, she went back to college and graduated when I was five years old. She went on to become a social worker and family therapist.
My dad was thirteen years her senior and a criminal defense attorney on the Upper West Side of NYC for over 30 years. He loved being a lawyer.
As a kid, we had mock trials around the dinner table, took turns playing the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge and jury.
When I got older I worked in his office on school vacations, squeezing yellow legal notes into overflowing filing cabinets, and riding the subway with him downtown to court.
Then, one night, when I was a freshman in high school, he didn’t come home.
My dad had been arrested for trying to embezzle money from a client.
He got himself a good lawyer and plead guilty.
He was disbarred and fortunately did not go to prison. But his life was never the same.
By my junior year in high school, my parent’s marriage ended.
My father floundered professionally, while my mother expanded. She studied metaphysics long before meditation, mindset and manifestation were in common parlance. She moved to California, began painting, saw clients and delighted in the Los Angeles sunshine and whimsical vibe.
Just before my college graduation, my father collapsed. They discovered a brain tumor that ultimately led to his death.
Having witnessed my dad’s downfall, I decided not to go to law school and worked for non-profits in human sexuality, women’s reproductive health and HIV.
I traveled the globe on my own for nine months before going to school for public health.
Once I got married, had kids and done years of satisfying public health work, I felt the call to explore coaching. I went back to school at NYU for my certification.
Is it a coincidence that as soon as I started coaching, I attracted lawyers who felt stuck and unhappy?
In 2010 I became an entrepreneur and built my first business, Wildfire Strategies, a consulting and coaching firm with my friend Steve Salee. There I coached women attorneys into leaving for happier, more fulfilling roles.
I piloted WILL in the summer of 2017 with five women from around the country.
Now, dozens of women have gone through WILL. They find joy, satisfaction and make new connections and friendships along the way!
I’ve often heard the soul-crushing damage a legal career can have on your mind, body and spirit.
- Are distracted or short tempered with your spouse and kids.
- Take calls during family events such as weddings or holidays.
- Work in the car at the beach while friends swim, chat and flip through trashy magazines.
- Worry about making hours, unable to relax, especially during a slow spell.
- Suffer from anxiety, depression, migraines, stomach aches and hair loss.
The norms in (big) law, can be merciless and soul crushing.
Work doesn’t have to be soul crushing.
What I hear you want is:
- Freedom from the billable hour.
- To know you are making a difference.
- A vacation or holiday where you aren’t working.
- To live up to your potential, not squander your precious time doing work that drains your soul and energy.
You can figure out what it is you want to DO & how you want to BE in this world. A life and career of joy and fulfillment IS possible.
Everyone at WILL is a champion, rooting for you!
From WILL assistant Jeanne who makes sure you have everything you need to get started, to Jenni Ingram, who coaches attorneys in WILL alongside me, you are in good hands.
Hi! I’m Jenni Ingram, MSW and proud WILL Coach
I love coaching people to grow in their strengths, leadership and make decisions that create space for more joy in their lives.
Over the years, I’ve coached individuals and consulted with organizations in the areas of team effectiveness, culture, and planning. I have a Master of Social Work from Columbia University plus certifications in 360° Feedback, Action Learning, and Financial Coaching.
Outside of work, I explore cities through running, photography and finding the best spots for coffee, food, and ice cream. I am always ready for the next mountain hike, and enjoy nature to its fullest. I am training for my third marathon!
I have been an active volunteer at some pretty great churches and am passionate about seeing the many ways that life is spiritual. I look forward to working with you!
My Formal Bio
Elena Deutsch, MPH is founder and CEO of WILL – Women Interested in Leaving (big) Law. She is committed to helping women lawyers who struggle to leave big law take action towards a career and life they love.
Prior to this, she was a partner in Wildfire Strategies, a consulting and coaching firm that ignites leadership in executives and teams. Before Wildfire, she held leadership roles at the American Cancer Society and CAI Global.
Elena has coached senior leaders and teams in a range of industries, including: law firms, health care, and the arts. She supported executives and teams to lead with greater ease, confidence and impact.
Elena completed her coach training at New York University, and her Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Elena is also a certified MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) practitioner.
She lives with her family in upper Manhattan.
If you are ready to finally figure out what else YOU truly WANT do with your law degree, (PLUS your experience, interests, strengths, values and dreams)
I’d love to hear YOUR story and learn how WILL can support you!
Working with Elena has been absolutely fantastic! Thanks to the work we did on figuring out what I wanted for my next career move, I have found a job which I am extremely thrilled about. I am convinced I could not have achieved this without all the work we did together.
I definitely recommend WILL!
A lot of women don’t think about their career in a broader way.
It was helpful to step back and ask, ‘What do I want to be doing with my life more generally?’