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ywl Coaching Program

The YWL coaching program encourages and promotes the retention of women in the legal profession by providing the members of YWL with access to experienced/certified coaches. Our coaches are experienced in coaching lawyers and are members of the legal community. Coaching refers to a thought-provoking and creative partnership between a member and a coach that inspires such member to maximize her personal and professional potential, often unlocking previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership. Specifically, coaching may help a member identify strengths and values, recognize challenges, develop career plans, enhance career skill development and create a balance between work and personal life, among other things. This Members Only program offers members the chance to connect one-on-one with certified coaches on a variety of topics at no additional cost. Coaching spots are limited and are offered on a first come first served basis. 

Please click here to read the coaching program's Terms and Conditions, which terms and conditions are deemed to be automatically accepted by members upon the completion of their registration in the coaching program. To register, please click here.

If you have any questions about the coaching program, feel free to contact us at

Meet the Coaches

Joanne Schaeffer

I am a stress resilience coach. In my practice, I help lawyers spot the warning signs of toxic stress and dysfunctional behaviour and arm them with pragmatic skills to build fulfilling and sustainable careers. As a former practicing commercial litigator, partner, and Director of Professional Development, I bring over 25 years of experience to the table.

Janet Hoyt

Janet has enjoyed a long and interesting career in law - first as a practicing lawyer, then as a career development professional and, more recently, as an executive coach. She has counseled countless lawyers on career opportunities and career advancement. Janet was one of the first full-time talent management professionals on Bay Street, where she spent 16 years at a major Canadian law firm. She is recognized as a strong leader who focuses on people’s strengths to motivate exceptional performance and engagement.

For the past 6 years, Janet has been leading the Career Advancement Office for McCarthy Tétrault LLP, providing independent career counselling and coaching to better support its lawyers in achieving their career aspirations. Janet easily builds rapport with her clients, works hard to discover their strengths and passions, and takes great pride in contributing to their success.

Janet completed her undergraduate degree at Acadia University and her law degree at the University of New Brunswick, where she currently sits on the Board of Governors. She obtained a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University and is a member of the International Coaching Federation.

Gina Alexandris

For over 20 years, Gina has been inspiring and supporting individuals and organizations to strategically define their hopes and achieve their goals. As the Senior Program Director of Ryerson’s Law Practice Program, Gina is responsible for the development, implementation and general management of the new innovative transition year training program for licensing Candidates in Ontario. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring academic excellence and the quality of service and program delivery for participants, and outreach to hundreds of contributing members of the legal profession. Gina was also actively involved with the development and launch of Ryerson’s new innovative law school. With a passion for adult education, leadership and diversity, she completed her Masters of Education in 2012 and received her Coaching Certification in 2017. Gina developed and directed the award-winning Internationally Trained Lawyers Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law and spent more than 12 years with Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, first as Director of Career Services, followed by nine years as the Assistant Dean of Student Services. Between 2013 and 2014, Gina was the Director, Strategic Planning and Knowledge Management for the Legal Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. Following her graduation from Osgoode Hall Law School, Gina began her legal career practicing family law and civil litigation in Toronto, Canada.

Sheena MacAskill

Sheena is a professional coach and lawyer dedicated to helping lawyers and law firms achieve success. Over 25 years' experience in the field of law has afforded her the expertise to guide and the empathy to listen. Since 2007, Sheena has applied these qualities to coaching, counseling, consulting and training for hundreds of top tier legal employers and individuals. My Background Sheena is a member of the International Coach Federation and is certified as a Career, Interview and Employment Strategist by the Career Professionals of Canada. She is also certified in DISC and Emotional Intelligence assessments. Sheena serves as the new parent coach at several Toronto law firms and is the Career Strategy Coach for women lawyers at a large international firm. Sheena practiced as an associate and partner in the litigation group at McCarthy Tetrault LLP and was the firm's first Director, Professional Resources from 2001 to 2007.

Angela Sordi

Angela the Director of Professional Recruiting at Borden Ladner Gervais in Toronto. She is also a Certified Executive Coach, a Member of the International Coaching Federation and a Member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. In her current role, she is responsible for all aspects of the summer student and articling program including student recruitment and student professional development. She also oversees the recruitment of lateral associates. Angela is also responsible for coaching junior associates at the firm. Angela was called to the Bar in 2003 and prior to joining BLG practiced as an Executive Coach in the Toronto area and worked as a recruitment consultant for one of Canada’s leading recruitment firms.

Jane Southern

Drawing on her extensive experience as a successful litigator and in-house business development director for a major law firm, Jane Southren is a powerhouse coach, mentor and advisor to her many professional services clients. Whether they’re lawyers, accountants or other service professionals, Jane helps her clients develop the relationships, habits and profile they need to attract the work they want and build practices they love.

Jane’s lifelong interest in neuroscience and human connection has led her to study the ways in which people interact and engage with one another, and her findings form the foundation of her proven business development and coaching methodologies. Whether in a one-on-one coaching environment or in a group setting, Jane is engaging and inspiring to all who work with her.

Jane’s is a business development specialist, and in her coaching of others around the discipline, she takes a refreshingly different approach. Jane demystifies the process and makes it a personalized, specific undertaking that her clients understand, and even…enjoy!

Jane’s unique, collaborative, multi-phase approach helps both individuals and groups gain the skills they need to cultivate insights, develop strategies, implement behavioural changes and build habits that, once integrated, help to create confidence and a sense of empowerment. The result is that her clients have the skills they need to build stronger, more sustainable, more successful practices that are aligned with their values and their personal and professional goals.

Whether engaging her services to take an existing practice to the next level, navigate a transition or to help them get ‘unstuck’, Jane’s clients rave about her coaching and training as some of the best investments they’ve made in their professional development.

Kara Sutherland

Kara Sutherland is the Director of Talent at Dentons Canada LLP in the Toronto office. She started her career practicing Planning and Development Law and then transitioned to a non-practicing talent role to focus on the career development of lawyers. Kara obtained her Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads in 2013. She has worked in talent roles at boutique, national and global law firms. Kara believes in the importance of assessing how you want to invest your time, talent and treasure to achieve your goals. She is also a pro bono coach through the Law Society of Ontario’s Coach and Advisor Network (CAN) and has been on the Board of Directors of the National Associate of Legal Placement (NALP) from 2019 to 2021.

Delee Fromm

Delee Fromm is an author, lawyer and former psychologist. As a professional speaker and coach, her services cover the arenas of unconscious bias, skill development and career advancement. She is a career coach with the Law Society of Ontario and on the advisory board of Young Women in Law. Her books include Advance Your Legal Career: Essential Skills for Success, Understanding Gender at Work and A Workbook for Understanding Gender at Work (co-authored with Rocca Morra Hodge).

For more information about her, please go to her website at and her profile on LinkedIn

Leigh-Ann McGowan

Leigh-Ann McGowan is an International Coaching Federation Associate Certified Coach (ACC), having obtained her coaching credentials from Royal Roads University. She has coached executives across industries, but particularly enjoys coaching lawyers and law students. Leigh-Ann is the Senior Director, Professional Resources (National) at McCarthy Tétrault. Among other responsibilities, she leads the firm`s (non-equity partner) lateral lawyer hiring initiatives nationally. Leigh-Ann practised as a corporate and securities law in the Toronto office of a national firm for several years. Prior to joining McCarthy Tétrault, she spent almost ten years working as a legal talent director at two national law firms based in both Toronto and Montreal.

Gwen Borins

Gwen is a certified coach and lawyer with over 25 years of combined experience in Canada and the United States. Passionate about helping women advance in their careers, Gwen’s coaching practice specializes in career navigation, leadership development and transition management for lawyers at all career stages. Drawing on her vast experience as an in-house entertainment/media lawyer in Toronto and Manhattan, Gwen understands first-hand the challenges her clients face, whether it be advancing one’s career path, vying for promotion, managing others or stepping into a new role. Through the coaching process, Gwen partners with her clients to gain insight into their skills and strengths, in order to optimize career growth and satisfaction. Gwen empowers clients to think boldly to bridge gaps between where they are and where they want to be, supporting them as they set goals and move forward in sustainable ways. Areas of exploration with clients include: guiding on career direction; networking to leverage relationships; bolstering communication skills; positioning for leadership opportunities; strengthening business development and client management skills; tackling time management challenges; integrating work and personal demands; managing transition junctures around law firm to in-house, parental leave and lateral moves. Gwen is a certified coach from Coach Training Alliance and the Adler School of Professional Coaching. She is a member of the International Coaching Federation and a designated Associate Certified Coach. Gwen obtained a B.A. in Political Science and a B.S. in Mass Communication/Public Relations from Boston University where she graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. Gwen is a graduate of Georgetown Law School and a member of the New York Bar.

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