Whether you are a life coach, business coach, health & wellness coach, or any kind of amazing coach – you need a client services agreement. But you already know that! And, since you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you want to get an agreement in place or get your current agreement up to snuff. Maybe you “borrowed” it from a friend or colleague, or -gasp- downloaded a free sample from some shady website. You can’t be sure that its adequate, or even appropriate for your coaching business. But no fear, we are here to help!
DIY LEGAL CAN WORK FOR COACHES
DIY legal is totally okay in many cases; so long as you have the right guidance and foundation. Online legal templates from can be a great resource. Templates that are vetted and provided by coaching certification programs can also be valuable. But the best practice for DIY legal, regardless of the source is this:
- Get your templates from a trusted source (not the dark web or some questionable anonymous website, not from a friend of a friend who had their real estate attorney “whip it up”). If it’s free, keep in mind you are probably getting what you paid for.
- Once you customize a template to your needs, have it looked over by a qualified attorney to ensure that you are satisfying your particular state’s laws, and that the agreement reflects the realities of YOUR coaching business. Even customizable templates are not a perfect one size fits all (more like one size fits most) – so go that extra quarter-mile to do it right and get it checked. We recommend that final step to all our customers. (And having an attorney review your completed template will still save you money over hiring an attorney to draft one from scratch.)
THREE CRITICAL CLAUSES TO ADD
If you already have a coaching contract in place, let’s assume that you’ve got the basics covered: naming the parties; listing your fees; describing the services; outlining coach and client responsibilities; and explaining your refund policy. (And, yes, “No Refunds” is a complete and clear refund policy!)
But what might your business, health, or life coaching agreement be missing that is critical to protecting yourself, your business, and your clients?
Let’s discuss 3 critical clauses to include.
1. Term and Termination. A clear explanation of how long your coaching contract is in place and effective is critical. Being clear on when and how it can be properly terminated is equally important. Term and Termination often tie in closely with payment and refunds, so you want to be sure that there’s no question here. The term can be open-ended (think automatic renewals every year), or finite (e.g., six months, 12 sessions, etc.) – it just has to be clear.
If there is no set termination date, when can you or your client terminate? Do you require a reason why either of you terminate? Is there notice required, and if so, how much notice? All of these questions should be addressed in the termination clause.
2. Confidentiality. A mutual confidentiality clause in your business coaching agreement is crucial. Confidentiality is important in all coaching relationships – it builds trust, demonstrates respect, and creates a space that allows for free exchange of information. But when it comes to business coaching, both the coach and the client are getting a peek behind the other’s metaphorical curtain – sensitive and proprietary business information, including intellectual property, may be shared in either direction (especially for Coaches of coaches), so ensuring that all parties are on the same page as to respecting and keeping shared information private is essential.
3. Limitations on Liability. Sometimes things go wrong. Life is crazy that way. And when they do, it is our nature as humans to find and assign responsibility. Sometimes it is easy and clear to see who is responsible, sometimes less so. As a Coach, you have a duty to provide the best service you can to your clients, but you are not responsible for their actions or mistakes.
But if something goes wrong for your client, and they try to assign the blame to you, you want to be sure to limit the extent to which a judge or jury might be able to find your liable, or responsible. Having a properly drafted clause that limits your liability is incredibly important. Commonly, the limitation is set to the amount actually paid by the Client under the agreement. That way, should your client prevail in a lawsuit against you, the maximum you would be obligated to pay would be what they had paid you.
There you have it. You may certainly have more than what is contained above, but these are the critical components to any solid coaching contract.