Case Studies

The following case studies provide examples of our work:

1. Helping new partners in their transition to leadership roles within a firm.
2. Working with senior associates to help them progress towards partnership.
3. Working with senior managers across a global organization to help improve retention and
support career progression.
4. Working with new graduates to help them focus their efforts early in their careers.
5. Providing focussed support to established partners to help them move towards senior
leadership roles.
6. Delivering group coaching as part of our leadership programme work.

1. Helping new partners in their transition to leadership roles within a firm.

Purpose: To ensure that new partners are equipped with the support and challenge needed to make
this key transition.

Experience and scope: Often a programme of six 90-minute sessions, using the new partner’s aims
and the firm’s strategy to form the agenda. Working on the opportunities and challenges the partner
is facing in ‘real time’. Programmes have been undertaken with new partners in Magic Circle law
firms, ‘big four’ accounting firms and other professional service firms internationally.


  • External support and challenge as the infrastructure of the partnership process falls away. This is a point in their careers when partners often feel very alone and yet reluctant to reach out to people internally as they feel they should be able to do what they planned without support.
  • Practical support and challenge as the business case for partnership turns from an aspirational plan into practical action.
  • Support as their role within the team changes to one of leadership and new alliances are made within the partnership.
  • Work on confidence and imposter syndrome.
  • An external view as they learn to navigate the politics within the partnership.
  • Working smarter not harder and resilience.

Client Feedback

"atd partners offer services to aid development and release the potential of individuals, teams and organisations. The core range of services we offer include the following:"

2. Working with high potential senior associates to help them achieve their potential which is often to progress towards partnership.

Purpose: Ensuring the coachee is achieving their potential and (where relevant) presenting
themselves as the best candidate for partnership that they can be so that the firm is able to see the
full potential of its emerging talent.

Experience and scope: Often a programme of six 90-minute coaching sessions with the first and last
sessions working with the coachee and their sponsor to ensure that this relationship is working
alongside the coaching. Our experience is wide ranging across Magic Circle law firms, the ‘big four’
accounting firms and many other professional service firms internationally.


  • Ensuring that the coachee has an effective and engaged development network of sponsors and
    mentors around them and that they are using role models effectively.
  • Ensuring that the coachee has their ‘head up’ and is thinking commercially about the work that
    they are doing and the opportunities in the market so that they are creating a business case
    showing what they could add to the partnership.
  • Support as their role within the team changes to one of leadership and new alliances are made within the partnership.
  • Working with the coachee and their sponsor to ensure that they are working on the matters that
    will give them the experience so that they can take advantage of the opportunities in the
  • Working with the coachee to ensure that they are building a team around them so that they can
    step up to a more senior role and realise their potential at this level.
  • Ensuring the coachee is building the network of partners that they will need to support them in
    their ambitions and in their future as a leader of the business.
  • Working smarter not harder and resilience.

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Inside Knowledge: How Women Can Thrive in Professional Service Firms

"Alison's new book Inside Knowledge provides practical guidance for women working in professional service firms who aspire to achieve their full potential in what have traditionally been male working environments."

3. Working with senior female employees to help improve retention and support career progression.

Purpose: To provide support to female Senior Managers, Senior Associates, Counsel and Directors
as they progress towards partnership working on key challenges at both personal and organisational
levels. Overall goal to improve retention and increase the number of female partners.

Experience and scope: Coaching provided annually to 150-200 senior women across the EMEIA
region. Up to three sessions of 90 minutes each. Annual themes report (anonymous) provided to
client. (Programme in its third year).

Themes: The following areas have emerged as recurring topics for the coaching programme:

  • Maintaining a focus on driving their career (particularly during the pandemic).
  • The difficulty of networking virtually.
  • Mental health and wellbeing.
  • To become effective partners - helping the women shift from task orientation to taking on the role of leader.
  • Working on the business case to support the promotion process.
  • Ensuring the sponsor role is effective.
  • Providing support to help development in a male environment.
  • Helping women develop their business.
  • Helping women make informed decisions when deciding whether or not to leave the firm.

4. Working with new graduates to help them focus their efforts early in their careers.

Purpose: To establish helpful habits in the early years of a professional’s career so that they are able
to achieve their potential throughout their career.

Experience and scope: The feedback from this work indicates that it has made a huge difference to
new graduates, particularly women, those from a minority ethnic background and those whose
families do not bring experience of working in a professional service firm. In addition to our
extensive work with women in professional service firms we have run programmes for those from a
minority ethnic and social movement population for two magic circle law firms.


  • Ensuring that they understand the power of an engaged and active development network,
    including mentors, sponsors and role models and how to identify them.
  • Helping them engage and grow their existing network within the firm and outside it.
  • Working to improve their confidence and combat the imposter syndrome.
  • Helping them manage the impression they give to others so that those others are aware of all
    that they bring to the firm.
  • Working on time management so that good habits are there from the start and there is less risk
    of burnout. Working smarter not harder and resilience.

5. Providing focussed support to established partners to help them move towards senior leadership roles.

Purpose: To ensure that firms are aware of the broadest range of talent when leadership
appointments are made.

Experience and scope: Working with partners to think more widely about the leadership roles that are available in
the firm and how they might take up one of these roles. Often a programme of six 90-minute
sessions flexed around the coachee’s key events to give them support and challenge when needed.

Themes: The following areas have emerged as recurring topics for the coaching programme:

  • Raising awareness of the leadership roles available.
  • Raising awareness of the politics within the partnership and what the levers are to achieve
    success in a leadership role in a partnership.
  • Working on the coachee’s vision for their team or department.
  • Creating a practical strategy to achieve that vision and which supports the firms wider aims
    and culture.
  • Working on the communication that will be needed to bring their fellow partners with them
    and gain real buy-in.
  • Dealing with difficult relationships within the team or outside it.
  • Working smarter not harder and resilience.

Testimonials. From happy clients.

"atd partners asked very good questions and really made me think, they helped me to have an outside perspective on the issues in the organisation and my part in them. I really appreciate what they did for me"

"Alison is a great listener and challenged us a lot. Her style made it easy for participants to open up and discuss their challenges"

"Alison is very professional and able to create a friendly atmosphere that makes people share their views openly"

"Alison was a great help to me; helping me to focus on what is important to me at this moment and in the future"

"Alison presented some very complex ideas in an easy to understand way"

"Alison is an amazing coach and an amazing person, I would like to thank her from the bottom of my heart for bringing back to life, a part of me, which I had considered dead for a long time"

"I was impressed by how quickly Alison analysed the issues considering she knew us for only a short time"

"Alison was amazing. She created a safe environment for all to share and voice their opinions. She has an amazing ability to read people"

“The sessions have been invaluable for me as a female and as a lawyer (the terms not being mutually exclusive!). While in hindsight a lot of the work we have done and ideas we have discussed seem logical and (nearly) second nature now (and it is difficult to understand why I was not thinking about them before), they certainly were not when I first started the programme. I really do think that is an important point to make to the partners when advocating for this pilot to be rolled out across the A2 group – while the issues/idea we discuss may come naturally to them, to young female lawyers that is not necessarily the case.”

“I can only speak incredibly highly of it. It has completely transformed the way I think about Linklaters and my career and has been fundamental to improving my attitude and building my confidence.”

“The programme forced me to make a habit of consciously thinking about my career. My highlight/favourite thing was being challenged to take action, not just to talk or think: including stating my ambitions, meeting people around the network, having an ‘elevator pitch’ ready, thinking more deeply about what motivates me and being more alive to issues of perception and impressions.”

“A key highlight from me was being given that time to focus on my career.  To step away from my desk and have some time to take stock and work out where I was and where I wanted to go.  Having regular meetings with agendas which were specifically tailored to our needs really helped this.  The sessions provided an encouraging and supportive environment but also a challenging one – and I really valued being challenged on my behaviour and habits at work.  It was good to have take-aways from every session and it made me focus on proactively changing my behaviour before the next session so that I could provide an update to the Group.  Without that structure, I must admit I would have been likely to keep the time to focus on my career at the bottom of my to-do list.  Particular themes which were really helpful to cover for me included the politics session and those which focussed on confidence and perception. I also really enjoyed the session with the female partners”

“Hand on heart I can say that there was no aspect of the programme that I did not enjoy or learn something from. I would struggle to pick one specific session that was a “highlight” (as they were all excellent), but as a more general comment I particularly enjoyed the open floor/open mic structure Alison and Fran encouraged at our sessions. I felt comfortable to speak openly without being judged or fear that it might be repeated back to my practice area. In this respect, I think it was good that we all came from different practice groups, and are all at different stages in our carer (although all within the same “A2” block). It meant we each had different perspectives and experiences to share and learn from.”

“I appreciated the time and space for reflection. I already had a reasonable habit of doing that but I think our time together emphasised the importance of it.”

“A big highlight for me (and the really unique thing compared to anything else I had done before) was the challenge. The dynamic of a small group and challenging and encouraging one another was really special. It was just fascinating to hear what colleagues (who I had generally known for a while) thought about themselves and how different it was to my own perceptions/other peoples. I was able to use some of those discussions as a mirror to look at myself and say “Are there times when the things you say about yourself sound as ridiculous as these things other people are saying about themselves”

“I found the programme to be both practical and relevant to my level. The issues discussed were the ones A2s like me face (or try not to face!) frequently. The best part was having an opportunity to discuss sensitive issues in an open forum of peers and get different perspectives to the same problem. It made me realise how common (/conventional/normal) the challenges that I face are; and that the only thing different between me and the next person is the mindset with which we are responding to these challenges. I particularly liked the session on business development, taking control, projecting confidence and the session with the female partners of the firm. The best part was getting concrete tips on things that I could do/change to get the results that I wanted.”

“Hearing about the experiences of the other women on the programme (often it put my experiences in perspective and made me think I’m pretty lucky!). I also enjoyed being forced/having a specific time to reflect on what I want from my career and if Linklaters is able to offer it. It feels a little self-indulgent just thinking/talking about yourself and the programme is good in that it gives “permission” to spend serious time on this.”

“I did appreciate the opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with female associates from other Groups on the issues which are important and relevant for associates of my level of seniority. The programme made me think about these issues.”

“The most valuable part of the course for me has actually been meeting people from other groups and therefore building more of a network across the firm. I therefore definitely think that if the course continues, it should continue to consist of small groups of people representing a variety of departments.”

“Meeting colleagues of a similar level from other parts of the firm and hearing views and experiences from outside my immediate department. Understanding how others (usually men!) approach the role and realising that it is possible for me to take a lot more control over my career and progression.”

"I just wanted to say thank you – not just for today but for the entirety of our course.
I’ve learnt so much from you and you have helped me position things in my own mind to be able to work through them much better.
Thanks again and look forward to catching up soon"

6. Delivering group coaching as part of our leadership programme work.

Purpose: To identify and work on individual and organisational challenges identified within a group
creating action plans and a network to share experience, support and challenge.

Experience and scope: Up to six group coaching sessions taking place approximately monthly during
a programme. A group size of 5-8 is perfect so that they get to know each other well and gain from
others in the group as well as the external perspective of the coach. Our experience shows that this
is a very powerful way of changing mindsets and behaviour. Often the relationships formed last long
after the programme and both the firm and the individuals in the group benefit from these
relationships and the learning.

Themes: The following areas have emerged as recurring topics for the coaching programme:

  • Understanding the politics in a professional service firm so that they can engage effectively and
  • Mapping their internal and external network so that they can be strategic about the networking
    they do.
  • Working more broadly on BD so that they are thinking commercially about their contribution to
    the firm.
  • Helping to improve confidence and combat any imposter syndrome.
  • Thinking strategically about impression management, who needs to know the current truth
    about what they are doing at work and how can they give that information in a way that is
    authentic so that it becomes a habit and not a chore. The aim is to ensure that those who are
    making decisions about the coachee have all the information they need to make good decisions.
  • Thinking commercially.
  • Delegation and motivation of teams and individuals working for them.
  • Managing upwards.
  • Working smarter not harder and resilience.