The Gen Why Lawyer: An Interview with Attorney-Turned-Millennial Career Coach, Crystal Marsh

I met Crystal almost a year ago. When I heard the story of how she transitioned from being a lawyer to a successful millennial career coach, I knew I had to speak with her! I’m glad I have the opportunity to share Crystal’s journey with you in the following interview. Crystal also shares her advice on how to get over feeling “stuck” in your career and how to get what you want out of life as a young lawyer.

You used to practice as an attorney. Tell me how you transitioned into your current career as a millennial career coach?

It wasn’t a transition I set out to make! I was working as an attorney and wanted something outside of work to simply fill up my life a bit more. I had always really enjoyed the job search and helping people so I told my friends and they told their friends and it went from there. It was only once I became very busy coaching people that I realized it could be an alternative career for me and I decided to pursue it full time.

How did you discover that career coaching was your “calling” and not being a lawyer?

Interesting question! I think that they’re both callings. I feel that I became a lawyer for a reason. I have no idea where I’d be if I hadn’t gone to law school and became a lawyer. In terms of full time work, coaching was consistently fun and enjoyable and I found that there was a huge need for what I wanted to offer. It just suits me better.

Tell me how you help your coaching clients?

It depends on what they need. There are three things that clients come to me for: clarity on how to move forward in their career, help with the job hunt, or coaching when they decide to launch a new business.

The work that I do is a combination of inner and outer work – meaning both mindset and action. I find that much of what stops people from having what they want is mindset – I help my clients get clear on the beliefs that they’re holding and how those beliefs are affecting their lives. I also hold them accountable for the goals they say they want to accomplish. I also help them create a plan of action for getting what they want. There are so many things I can do to help clients, it’s hard to summarize it in a few sentences.

Coaching is amazing – I work with a coach myself. It’s difficult to explain the magic that can happen when you have another person holding your vision with you and encouraging you to move towards it!

What are the top 3 complaints you hear from millennials when it comes to their careers?

I feel stuck and I don’t know how to move forward.
I’m further behind than where I should be.
I’m afraid I can’t get where I want.

What are a few exercises you go through with your clients to begin helping them discover what their purpose is and what fulfills them?

Many of the clients that I work with are seeking greater clarity around what their purpose in the work force might be. Most of them come to me saying that they have no idea what they want to do or are meant to do, but with a bit of digging, I find that they actually do have some hints that they hadn’t realized. One of the easiest ways to identify these hints is to think about what you enjoy doing most outside of the office. Ask yourself:

What activities do I take part in that make the time fly by?

What can I do for hours on end that makes it feel like only minutes have passed?

Once you’ve got your list of activities that make the hours feel like mere minutes, it’s time to take a look at what characteristics those activities involve, and the qualities that you possess while doing them.

For example, take my client Alyssa, who absolutely loves to travel.

The qualities that she would express through traveling were adventure, variety and even organization, since she loved to spend time creating thorough itineraries for each of her trips. Traveling also involved spontaneity for Alyssa, since she would sometimes veer off her carefully planned itinerary in favor of something that seemed more interesting. In doing so, she was experiencing a combination of freedom and structure, action and activity. She was exploring new places and interacting with new people. She was showing sensitivity in dealing with other cultures, honing her people skills and expanding her ability to connect and learn.

Based on the things that she most loved about traveling, I suggested that Alyssa speak with a high-end travel consultant. At the time, she was working in the corporate world and earning a six-figure salary. The only roles Alyssa was familiar with that would so intimately involve her love of traveling were careers as a travel agent, travel blogger or writer—none of which appealed to her. I recommended that she look into high-end travel consulting — a position she had never heard of.

It didn’t take Alyssa long to find several high-end travel consulting boutiques that offered the services I had mentioned to her. Alyssa reached out to these companies requesting informational interviews. After speaking with several people, she realized that although it was going to take a huge amount of dedication and self-motivation to establish herself in this new field, this job would encompass all of the elements she most enjoyed doing — and it held huge potential for financial success as well. Alyssa had never imagined that a job that existed where she could earn a good salary while doing the things she loved most.

For those young lawyers who are unhappy being lawyers, what advice would you give them to help them begin the self-discovery process?  

For those who are considering a career change here are a few steps.

Step 1: Identify which skills you're best at, and enjoy doing.

First, pick out the lawyer skills that you've most enjoyed during your time working in law. This should be the easy part, particularly if you break down the core competencies of lawyers into six categories:

1.     Advocacy/speaking

2.     Research

3.     Writing

4.     Counseling

5.     Analysis

6.     Management

From here, you can begin to explore career options that naturally flow from these skills.  For example, if your strength and passion lies in writing, it's entirely possible that your true calling is to be a writer. For those who are fond of counseling, a potential second career may be in therapy, consulting, coaching or social work.

Step 2: Figure out what's holding you back.

Lawyers as a group tend to be a relatively risk averse bunch – which may have been the motivation for pursuing law in the first place, since it's a stable career option. Sometimes, the fear of failure is what holds lawyers back from seeking a career that they think might actually make them happy.

Whatever is holding you back from leaving your career in law to pursue something more fulfilling, the first step to getting past this is to identify what that is for you.

Step 3: Create a vision of what you want.

If the idea of making immediate career changes is too off-putting, one way to move past that fear is to create a vision of what your ideal job would look like. Continue honing the law skills that can get you to where you want to be, and figure out why certain parts of practicing law are enjoyable to you. For example, if your favorite aspect of law is advocacy, you may want to consider a career that still incorporates speaking, and work to enhance that skill even further. Join toastmasters, sign up for a seminar, attend conferences and begin networking with professional speakers in order to build your experience. Just because you don’t have everything completely planned out yet doesn't mean you can't start taking steps towards the career or job that you truly want!

How can people get in touch with you?

You can visit my site and message me through there, find me on Twitter @Crystal__Marsh (that’s two underscores), or at CrystalMarshCoaching on Instagram!


Julie Cummings

That was a great interview summary. I really liked reading the various examples Crystal provided for ways she helps people think about career transitions.


Great interview, Nicole. Crystal appears to be an effective coach, especially given the exercise around clarifying purpose.


As someone who is just starting out in their legal career these tips are extremely helpful for figuring out what I really want to do with my law degree (or not do). Great article!


This is so important!!!!!!!! My boyfriend was a criminal attorney when he was first barred. He absolutely hated it. He regretted his law degree and thought he’d made a horrible mistake. He was going to quit and try something else. But then he switched the type of law he was practicing. He turned down a great employment package and jumped to a smaller firm with a lot less money. He works really long hours but he’s so happy now. Making the jump is hard but possible. So this article is awesome!

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