Interview with Janine Esbrand from Lightbox Coaching

Read how a mission trip to Africa made corporate lawyer Janine Esbrand realise she wanted to do more to help people – and how that led to the launch of Lightbox Coaching.

What’s your career background?

I decided at a young age that I wanted to be lawyer (largely inspired by programs like Ally McBeal and Law and Order). I followed a pretty conventional path to qualification as a corporate lawyer.

In the early stage of my career, I went on a mission trip to East Africa with the Lawyers Christian Fellowship (LCF), and the experience completely shifted my mindset around what I wanted out of my career.

When I returned to the UK after the trip, I realised that I wanted to do more to help people on a personal level. I came across life coaching and realised that I had been informally coaching people my whole life. I completed my coach training in the evenings/weekends and started coaching people in my spare time.

How did your career change after having children?

Everything changes after you have children – Once my son arrived, I knew that I didn’t want to be working the hours or have the lifestyle I had before. It was really important to me to spend time with my son and be around in his early stages of his life and development.

I left my corporate associate job and took a role as in-house legal counsel where I work 3 days a week. It is great because it is a win all round for me. I get to practice law, spend quality time with my son and build my coaching business. I am so grateful to have this level of flexibility.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

When I initially started coaching, I worked with a range of clients from different backgrounds. However, the challenges I faced when preparing for my return to work as a lawyer after maternity leave inspired me to focus my energies on supporting female lawyers with the transition into motherhood.

There are way too many unhappy, stressed out lawyers out there that feel that they need to leave the career they worked so hard to build once they become a parent. I want to support those women to find an effective way to integrate work and family life.

I recently launched The Smooth Return Course (a four-week coaching program) designed to help lawyers returning to work after maternity leave have a calm, confident and positive return to work experience.

Who’s your target audience?

Female lawyers who want to build a legal career they love, whilst having time for the other important things in life.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

I have been leveraging the power of Linkedin by writing articles relevant to my target audience and connecting with people who are serving a similar audience. I also feature on popular blogs such as Huffington Post and LawyersinBalance.

I use other social media channels such as facebook, instagram and twitter. I also host a weekly podcast called “The More Than A Lawyer Podcast” which is available on i-tunes.

Why is work so important to you?

If I am going to be spending time away from my son at work, it is important that the work I do is well aligned with my values. I want to build a legacy and make a positive impact on those around me.

Working as a lawyer and building my coaching business is allowing me to play to my strengths and do work that I really enjoy.

How do you balance your business with your family?

I firstly get clear on my long term and short term work and family goals. I then work out how my goals can be broken down into mini tasks that then get scheduled into my calendar as action items. I use a project management tool called Trello to plan out my projects and prioritise tasks.

I also have set days in the week that are entirely dedicated to family time and work around my son’s nap-times on the days that I am home with him. My husband and I keep the lines of communication open to ensure our household runs effectively.

What are your three top pieces of advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
  2. Take care of yourself – self-care, even if it’s just a warm bath or taking a jog every now and then is important as it helps replenish, which in turn allows us to be better parents and professionals.
  3. Go for it – every day that you spend procrastinating because you don’t think it’s the right time is a day that you’ll never get back.

You can learn more about Janine on her website.