Confession time.  Sometimes I am a hot mess.  Aren’t we all?  I’m a single mom with two very different daughters.  I have two dogs.  I have two businesses (I like things in pairs, apparently).  So, I juggle A LOT.  And sometimes the balls hit floor.  And the glass ones break.  This is life.

But!  I have a secret weapon to help me – my coach.  She’s a life & business coach and helps me streamline my business so that I have more time to dedicate to working in my “zone of genius” or spending with my fun, crazy, chaotic friends and family.  And she’ taught me how to balance and prioritized issues in my life.  With so many responsibilities an sources of potential stress keeping things in perspective is paramount to a happy and successful work-life balance.  

And this is why I love my coach.  This is why anyone who has the right life coach considers them indispensable.

But life coaches are people too, and even they need help.  One place we often find coaches need help is with their life coaching contract with their clients.  Even life coaches can get stressed – and being stressed over the legal stuff is totally understandable.  But we can break it down to seem less daunting and help you figure out if you have the right agreement in place.

So here are some quick tips for making sure your client agreement is up to snuff:

IMPORTANT BASIC TERMS

  1. Term & Termination.  This clause sets out how long the term of the services will last and how and when it will end.  Maybe it’s on-going until someone terminates.  Maybe it’s a twelve-month agreement.  Maybe it’s a 24 session package.  There’s no set standard for the term when you’re a life coach.  But what your agreement needs to do is be clear on whatever the term is and how and when that term ends.
  2. Refunds.  Closely tied to term and termination is the refund clause.  “No Refunds” is a complete policy, but perhaps you offer a full or partial refund depending on how or when the coaching contract is terminated.  There’s no right or wrong policy -as long as it is clear, and is fair.  
  3. Scope of Services.  This clause should clearly describe what services you will provide your life coaching clients.  Will there be 1:1 sessions?  How long are they?  How many?  Will you be including group sessions?  What about workshops?  Do you provide a workbook or other homework?  This is your coaching program and it is perfect however you have designed it.  You just need to be clear in the agreement about what it is.
  4. Policies and Client Responsibilities.  If you have a clear policy on scheduling sessions, and cancelling or rescheduling this makes it easier for you and your client.  This will tie into both your Scope of Services (perhaps your services include two sessions a month that are “use them or lose them”) and your Refund Policy ( maybe unused sessions are not refunded).
  5. Payment.  How do you accept payment?  Paypal, cash, credit card?  Some other method?  Do you require payment in full before services begin, or are your coaching clients being billed monthly?  Be clear. (You see the theme, right?  Clarity is key!)

THE “LEGALESE”

We are lawyers here at In The Know, and we LOVE the law.  Not only because it’s what we do for a living, but because we know how much it can help people.  We are strong believers in prevention before reaction – and having the right terms and clauses in a coaching contract can prevent a host of problems from even arising.  And some of that prevention lives in the “legalese.”

  1. Dispute Resolution.  This is not what we would consider a mandatory clause, but having a dispute resolution clause can help prevent lawsuits – if you specify that mediation or arbitration are required to resolve any claims.
  2. Choice of Law and Venue.  This clause is necessary. It specifies where a lawsuit or claim must be filed and what laws must be used when interpreting the coaching agreement.  Tip: home court advantage is real, so always choose the state where your coaching practice is located.
  3. Entire Agreement.  This clause may seem like a waste of words on its surface.  But saying that the coaching agreement represents the entire agreement between the parties means that any conversations or emails that happened before the agreement was signed are NOT a part of the understanding between you and your client.  This means all you can hold each other to, in the event of a dispute, is what is written in that contract.
  4. Amendments or Modifications.  This is the flip side of the Entire Agreement Clause.  Conversations or emails AFTER the agreement is signed do NOT change the agreement – unless you and your client agree to those changes in a signed writing.

Once you have a clear, concise agreement in place, with (at a minimum) all of the clauses above, you can rest easy that your life coaching business is well covered. 

Take a moment to review your client agreement – does it have these basic terms and clauses? No?  Don’t worry.  In The Know Legal has you covered.  We offer individual templates and curated packages that include client service agreements – perfect life coaching contract templates to use in your coaching practice.  We also have loads of free content because we want you to fee educated an empowered when you use your templates.  Head on over to the Checklist page for free information that you can put to use right away.

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