Member Stories

WILL members have been getting remarkable results.

Hear what they have to say in their own words.

Karen, a lawyer in New York, came to WILL when she was facing a big life change.

Prior to working with Elena, I was an in-house corporate attorney at a global financial services company. After nearly 20 years with the company, as my youngest child prepared to leave for college, I realized that my priorities had shifted. I wanted to do something more meaningful and connected to my own interests. 

A friend of mine suggested that I work with a career coach and recommended Elena. While I initially thought this was a bit self-indulgent, it was one of the best investments that I have ever made. Elena’s practical, individualized and supportive approach helped me discern what mattered most to me–to work in an art museum–and where my strengths lay. I learned valuable networking and mindset skills and found it rewarding and empowering to share experiences with other members of the of the supportive WILL community. The course is an effective, efficient and business- minded way of helping you define your goals and map out and implement a plan to achieve them.  

I wholeheartedly recommend Elena without reservation. You can tailor the program to your own needs and pace. Elena is a joy to work with. It is a relationship grounded in trust and understanding. I was a skeptic about coaching and did not understand or appreciate the value of mindfulness prior to working with Elena. I learned to expand my way of thinking, and it could not have been a better experience.

Karen, New York City

Gina who found WILL serendipitously and used a wake up call at work to reconsider what she’s spending her time doing.

I’ve realized more gains on the investment with WILL than I have in anything else I’ve done self-improvement-wise in my life.

In retrospect, I would never question it like I did, because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. What I loved about WILL the most was that it wasn’t just finding a new job. It was, “I’m going to help you figure out a new job that you’re going to like and you’re going to do that, and that’s the goal of it.” For me, it was much more expansive and personal and deep and transformative than just finding a new job, in a way that was hard to understand at the outset. In this way, it’s still hard to explain to people not involved in the program.

Gina, Philadelphia

If you want to wake up everyday excited to go to work, reach out.

Tara, who used WILL to get out of the rut she was in and find what her next steps were.

In my head, I was thinking everyone would have something negative to say about leaving law. It’s been the complete opposite, it’s been this positive experience. 

Tara H

Angela shares what she’s gotten from WILL and why she flew across the country to attend the first WILL retreat.

I’m coming to the retreat for a couple of reasons. The first is having three solid days of doing additional work on decisions I’ve made, and get support around that. I want to think about what’s coming up in the future and take time for myself. I have two kids and it’s very rare to be away… in fact I will have never been away from my kids for this long. 

I’ve taken the big leap, I’ve left my job and started my own practice, but there’s still additional work to be done around ‘How do I fashion this next stage in a way that avoids some of the pitfalls in the big firm environment?’

I’ve gotten a lot of benefit from working virtually with Elena, and learning from other women in the same kind of situation. This is our career and figuring out a different path outside of large law firms is surprisingly emotionally fraught.

So there’s the community aspect, connecting with other people. The reality is, we all have a common slightly terrible experience, and we all have the common language. Plus, I’ve never met as good of a facilitator as Elena, and I’ve done a lot of leadership development programs and conferences. Elena facilitates this community element very skillfully.  

Ultimately, I think this experience will help me really actually integrate these parts of myself: the part of me that wants to run as far as humanly possible from a big firm and then the part of me that actually I do still enjoy being a lawyer. I’m looking forward to having the space to do that integration work, and it will be nice to connect with other people who are in the same boat.

Angela, San Francisco

Lauren, a lawyer in San Francisco, after the first WILL retreat in 2019.

I did not really know what to expect for the retreat, but I was looking forward to meeting everyone and spending time together in a beautiful place. 

I loved spending time with everybody and getting to know each person’s story. It was a good balance of challenging work and time to rest and restore. I felt welcomed and supported throughout and was able to open up and really dig into the work because of that.

By the end I felt better equipped to do the work I need to do for my future, and I feel more connected to my WILL sisters.

I absolutely recommend a WILL retreat to other women lawyers. Elena put together a carefully considered agenda with time for both work and play. The venue was lovely, and I felt taken care of during the entire retreat.

Lauren, San Francisco

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Dani, a lawyer in New York, felt like she was drowning before she found WILL. Now she’s swimming for shore.

I knew I needed to make a change. I felt like I was drowning. I knew it had to happen, but I didn’t know how. When I did some research about WILL a light bulb went off. “Oh, this is what I’ve been looking for all along.” It was a way through the doubt, and fear, the socialization that “if I leave this job, I’m never gonna get another one, or I’m going to have to take a huge salary cut, I’m never going to be able to support my son.”

I felt like I was drowning and fighting my way to the surface and I just didn’t know how to get there, but I desperately wanted to.

Now that I’ve broken through to the surface, I feel like while I’m still treading water a little bit, I’m happy and I know that I’m doing the right thing. I’m on the right path and I’m comfortable treading water for right now.

I’m the most proud of the work I’m doing on my mindset and paying attention to myself, what I’m feeling, why I’m feeling something, why I’m thinking something and making a real effort to break that down and reframe it if it needs to be reframed.

The one-on-one coaching has been amazing. I went into this a little bit skeptical about what I would get out of the group calls with the women. I don’t know why I had that feeling, but I did. Honestly that was a real awakening for me, just what an amazing community of women this is. I’ve always felt that women, when they support each other, we can take over this world and do so many amazing things and that just bore out through the weekly calls with them. The community of like minded women who are smart and they have career minded ambitions, but they also want to write their own story and not just follow the norm. That’s inspiring for me and was an awakening.

It’s never a waste of time or money to take the time to explore yourself and who you are and remind yourself of what your values are and what’s important to you. We get bogged down by the daily grind, especially in big law. Taking the time to care for yourself is really important too and I think that the WILL program really, really allows women to do that.

Dani, New York

Jennifer 100% recommends WILL and is NOW investing in the business of herself.

Before starting WILL in January 2019, I was completely miserable working for people that I thought were disrespectful of my time, effort and talent. I wanted to do something that made me happy and felt fulfilling, instead of just doing something I was good at and made money at but hated.

I was at my second big law firm. I had been at a gigantic corporate law firm, made a switch to a smaller firm and I still hated what I was doing. After about six months there I realized, it was not the change in firm that I needed, I just need to do something completely different.

I, like many people, was someone who decided when I was in college, ‘Oh, I’m just going to go straight to law school.’ I never took any time to think about my personal interests, what I liked, or was good at. I basically went straight through, so I didn’t have any actual real-world working experience until I started as an associate.

One part of the WILL program that I went into with some skepticism was the group sessions, however I found those to be some of the most rewarding and interesting moments. Even if I wasn’t talking about my problems, just hearing that other people were having similar feelings and struggles, including people who had been working in law firms a lot longer than I had, was helpful. Everyone helping, supporting, coming together with that group feeling of ‘Yeah, we can all have happier lives’, I just loved that.

WILL really helped me to figure out myself. It was like having a conversation with myself for the first time in seven years. I found the self-reflection part to be difficult at first because I had never done it before. It’s like meeting a stranger, you have to form a relationship in the beginning, and I just didn’t have that kind of open dialogue with myself. I knew I hated my job, but I never asked myself, ‘What do you want out of your career?’.

Now I feel so much more in touch with myself, knowing what I’m happy with, not satisfied about, finding ways to adjust, change course, and be more flexible so that I don’t feel like I’m stuck. In terms of achieving my goals, I have found a new job and a new direction, and every day I feel like I’m building towards a life I want. I have also gained a lot more clarity, and have the tools to achieve it.

If you’re an attorney who feels stuck, unhappy, or miserable, I would a hundred percent recommended WILL. It just took a lot of pressure out of the process, because I had so many people telling me ‘you’re doing the right thing’, and if you don’t have that support, it’s lonely and isolating. I think having a group to talk to and not feeling like you’re alone, and getting different ideas was invaluable to me. I don’t think I would have had nearly as much insight and clarity as to what I wanted out of my job without WILL.

I’m so happy that I found WILL, because it has completely changed how I think about work and happiness. I feel like I should be happy in what I do, and that was a total mindset shift for me, because it’s not how I was brought up to think about work and about success. I feel so much more myself. People tell me they see a physical difference in my appearance. I feel hopeful and like I can do something, I never felt that way before.

I spent so much time investing in making other people’s business successful that I never invested in the business of making myself successful. And now I am, every day.

Jennifer B., New York City

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A WILL Member on her wake up call.

There were a few different things that motivated me to join WILL and it all kind of came together at once. I was feeling unhappy in my job, being in an environment where people don’t lift others up. I like to be in a place where people are lifted up, and I like to lift other people up. So that was really, really bringing me down.

I think the culture can be such that you feel indispensable, but once you leave, you’re totally dispensable. People only care about you for what you can give them. I care about the whole person and I want other people to care about me as a person. That was a big part of it.

Another piece, and this is more personal, is that it was right at the end of my first year at the firm and I had a very young friend pass away, he was such a bright light in the world. He was the type that did whatever his heart told him to do and what made him happy. It was a real wake up call for me that we don’t have a lot of time and we don’t have time not to be happy. I’ve carried that with me. I need to honor his memory by moving forward and being happy.

I’m a third year associate. I do corporate M&A. I’ve been in WILL and working with Elena for four or five months, it’s been helpful and I’ve made a lot of strides in that time.

People tell you when you get a law degree you can do so much with it, and then when you get into the field, people start telling you, “No, you can’t.” You start to ask yourself, “Oh, did I totally cut myself off from what else is out there?” 

It can be hard to recognize that you’re not stuck. I was feeling very, very stuck. Thinking “is this what I’ve worked so hard for, to be unhappy?” Those were a lot of the feelings I was having.

Elena said something once about how all motivation is either born out of love or fear, and now I find myself thinking about every decision I make in those terms and it makes so much sense to me. I‘ve seen myself making a lot of the decisions I’ve made to get to this unhappy place, out of fear, and it’s time to go the other way and make some decisions out of love. 

I find the one-on-one sessions helpful because it’s a space where I can say the craziest things, like “I want to write a book” or “I want to open an Etsy store to raise scholarships for campers” and it’s nonjudgmental. 

I’ve also realized working with the other women in WILL in the group sessions, there are people out there with the same aspirations and there are people out there doing it, so why not us?

I feel more hopeful. I feel lighter. I feel I can breathe better. Before I felt so stuck and I couldn’t breathe, and now I’m seeing that there are other things out there for me. I’m not stuck and I can make those things happen. That’s been a big change.

I’m working past my fear, starting to reach out and explore new things that before I was afraid to. I’m reaching out to recruiters and submitting my resume to different places. I reached out to a client and had coffee with them about a potential career there. Before I was afraid because the voice in my head was saying, “No, you can’t do that. No, you can’t do that. Or it’ll just be the same as it is right now so this is the best it gets.” That’s been a big change also, which has been exciting to go through.

I still have a long way to go, but it’s been great. Each module I finish and each conversation we have, I learn something new. I take something new away that’s helped me. 

It’s a process and it’s going to take time. I think that was a fear of mine holding me back, thinking “oh my gosh, I need to get this done right now.” I’ve realized that it’s a process, it’s going to take time and I’m going to be okay.

If I were speaking to a friend or colleague, I would say, “I absolutely think you should reach out. I know that there are things that are probably holding you back. You’re worried about the money or you’re like, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine in my job or I’m lucky to have this job. I shouldn’t complain.’ I would say you’re probably someone who has a lot of gifts to give and Elena can help you realize those and help those come through and get into a place where you can really use them, make a big contribution to the world and be happy. Everybody deserves to be happy.”

A WILL Client Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

Gina on what WILL has given her and why she went to the first WILL retreat.

I’ve long been unhappy as a lawyer. I thought it was just my cross to bear, like I had no other options.

I have so many women friends who are lawyers, and we always joke when people say, there’s a lot you can do with a law degree. We would say like, ‘Yeah, you can be a lawyer. That’s it.’ I know that’s not true. But when you’re in this mindset it’s hard to shake.

About a year ago, I realized I needed to explore other options. I went to this event with my sister, and a woman stood up in the audience to ask a question, and said, my name is Elena Deutsch, and I have this company called Women Interested in Leaving Law. And I was like, ‘What!? This is specifically what I want.’

I started working with Elena in August of 2018, and it has been life changing. I feel like, ‘No, this horrible job is just temporary.’ That mindset shift alone has yielded me far bigger returns on my investment than I could have anticipated.

When Elena said she was planning a retreat, I was very excited because I love the group nature of our [virtual] program, you feel so much less alone in this challenge.

A lot of why I’m coming to the retreat is because of Elena, I know what she offers and I know how helpful she is. She’s very nurturing, but in a motivating way and holding you accountable way, but in a non-critical way. She is really well attuned to the psyche and challenges and needs of women attorneys, which is a specific breed of person.

The things that Elena’s helped me do and change in myself… my husband,  children, friends, sister, everyone in my life really can feel it.

From this retreat I want to deepen that, I want to feel like this worked, like I feel transformed. I’m coming back with a really fresh perspective, focused on what’s important, not letting the world dictate for me what I should be doing.

Gina, Philadelphia

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