Coaching is a highly customized service that is best understood through specific examples. While many clients choose my SLC Jump Start ™ program (see below), coaching is not a form of “one size fits all” consulting. There are, however, some common reasons why you might want to work with a coach. For example:
Many clients contact me as they begin to make the transition from associate to partner. Some have already achieved partnership status while others have been told that generating business is a prerequisite. In both cases, these attorneys need to understand how to reorient themselves so that a portion of their time is spent building their reputation and building their business relationships. For these clients, I offer a five step coaching program called SLC Jump Start ™ . While SLC Jump Start ™ is tailored to the specific needs of each coaching client, the basic steps are as follows:
I have successfully worked through these steps with numerous clients who have gone on to build successful practices. Many of my clients , however, also come to me with a mix of career and marketing issues. Below is a description of several clients who have needed support with both their marketing and with a career transition.
The general counsel of a technology company called me when it became public knowledge that his company was being acquired. While the client believed there would still be a role for him after the acquisition was completed, the client did not see the new role lasting forever. In the short run, he could stay; but his job responsibilities would become far less interesting. In addition, he was told to expect a pay cut. At the same time, the marketplace for other in-house jobs was soft and this client needed help in developing more options. This involved:
As a result, the client was able to join a well regarded regional firm. From day one, he had a steady flow of work (i.e. from his former employer) and a strong foundation on which to build a practice.
Many lawyers found their careers disrupted at the start of 2003 when two of Boston’s oldest firms closed. A corporate partner from one of these firms came to me seeking help in vetting his career options. He had largely been a service partner, but he knew he could generate business if he were at a smaller firm. Initially the focus was on helping the client to secure a new job. This involved:
After the client was reestablished in his new firm, I helped the client to create and implement a marketing plan. With my help, the client was able to better focus his marketing message. With my coaching support, he continues to increase his visibility by writing articles, sending out mailings, choosing good public speaking opportunities and participating in a variety of activities sponsored by non-profit organizations that interest him.
I recruited a litigation associate from a large Boston firm to join the Boston branch office of a national firm. Initially, the associate was very happy with the move. The morale in her new firm was much better, the environment was more supportive and the hours were more predictable. A year later, the associate contacted me seeking career coaching. She was now questioning whether she was really suited to the practice of law.
Through a series of exercises and coaching sessions, the client came to appreciate that there were many things she liked about the practice of law. She also saw that in many ways, she was well suited to being a litigator. She realized, however, that her recent divorce was causing her to look to work for emotional fulfillment. She also discovered that some of the stress she was feeling was a holdover from her former firm and that in her new firm, it was okay to make mistakes as long as you fixed them. (At her old firm, anything less than perfection was considered unacceptable.)
The client began to take more initiative to improve her social life. She also created a strategy for managing her stress. As a result, her career satisfaction grew significantly. She also gained a new appreciation for her firm and for practicing law.
A partner at a litigation boutique had been litigating a wide mix of cases for nearly 20 years. Throughout most of her career, she had done little marketing. But lately, she was feeling less confident that she would continue to get referrals. At the same time, she was becoming increasingly frustrated with traditional litigation and wanted to spend more time using less adversarial dispute resolution techniques.
At first, the coaching centered around getting the client to commit to asking for the work she wanted. We then spent a number of sessions dealing with what the client called “fear of marketing”. As her marketing confidence grew, she become more effective in asking lawyers and other professionals in her network for referrals. She also greatly increased her commitment to speaking publicly about collaborative law.
A client approached me because she wanted to become a more effective manager. She believed that it was time for her firm to make serious changes in the way it was doing business but she did not know how to make these changes happen. As we worked together, it became clear that the client’s authority was being undermined by her law partner. After trying in vain to improve employee communication in her office, the client concluded that it was time to move on. I then:
I continued to work with this client to strengthen her relationships with referral sources. We also returned to the issue of how to be an effective manager (something she knew was important but hated to spend time on).