Now more than ever, success in private practice requires an ability to generate business. If you want to have control over your own destiny in a law firm, having your own stable of clients key in private practice. Being able to effectively manage your clients and the people you work with is also key to your success.
Law school taught you to think like a lawyer but if you are like me, it didn't teach you much about marketing or managing the work. That's where coaching comes in.
I grew up in a household where a lot of value was placed on education. My father was a math professor who called business people operators and my mother was school psychologist whose brothers never had the chance to go to college. Neither of them understood business or marketing and neither of them considered selling a virtue. They taught me that being good at what you do and working hard was the way to succeed.
After law school, I came to appreciate that being good at your craft is important to your success. But it is insufficient.
As a Program Attorney at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), I learned that lawyers who are successful in private practice are also great at generating work and at managing the work. During my time at MCLE, I organized dozens of programs on marketing and practice management. I learned from some of the pioneers in legal marketing what it takes to build a successful practice.
When it was time to leave MCLE and start Seckler Legal Recruiting and Coaching, I hired two different coaches and came to appreciate the value of coaching. Working with business coaches provided me with the sounding board I needed to be successful. It helped me recognize the gaps in my knowledge of how to run a professional services business.
To best understand what coaching is, it is useful to review some examples of how coaching works. Click here for some representative samples. For a lengthier article on coaching that I co-authored for the American Bar Association, click here. For a podcast on coaching, click here.
Since that time, I have worked with hundreds of lawyers who are looking for more career satisfaction. Some need help develop a marketing plan that fits with their personality and interests. Some are looking for ways to increase their effectiveness in running their practice. Some are looking to find a new career path in or out of the law.
As a coach, I work with clients over time to come up with a plan and make sure that the plan is executed and ultimately, successful.
Coaching is a service that helps executives and professionals achieve higher levels of performance. The theory behind coaching is simple. While a personal trainer might help an individual develop and follow a fitness plan, a professional coach can help an attorney clarify professional goals and create an action plan for reaching these goals. A professional coach then works with the professional to ensure that these goals are reached.
A coach is a sounding board, a reality check and a mentor. A coach provides support, validation and resources. A coach holds you accountable and helps you move past roadblocks. An effective coach provides a highly customized service which takes into account your specific goals and your particular strengths and weaknesses.
Coaching has become a popular way to help professionals achieve top performance. According to the Wall Street Journal, there is an increasing trend in top corporations towards hiring external coaches to work with senior level executives. Law firms are also beginning to recognize the value of hiring coaches to work with attorneys who have great legal skills but need to develop their marketing and practice management skills. Similarly, individual attorneys who want to work more effectively, develop more business or find better work/life balance are turning to coaches as well.
Click here to read more about how coaching works.