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Coaching for Lawyers:  10 Ways a Lawyer Can Benefit from Working with a Professional Coach

Marie noticed that Diane seemed to be sailing through her career and receiving “nods” from the firm’s partners.  According to Marie, Diane was extremely successful in handling her cases, developing strong relationships with her clients and seemed to be building a successful career on all fronts. As a third year associate, Diane was viewed as a rising star in the firm and was getting several “choice assignments”…many of which Marie had hoped to get.  After inviting her to lunch, Marie learned that Diane had been working with a Professional Coach.  During lunch, Diane credited her Coach with helping her develop a strategic action plan to help her : 1) improve  weak areas in her  performance, 2)enhance  and strengthen her  professional image and 3) get on the fast track to partnership. According to Diane, “Hiring my Coach was the wisest career move I could have made.”

 One week later, Marie hired her own Coach.

Professional Coaching is for lawyers who are ready to excel, enjoy a better quality of life and gain an edge on the competition.

Let’s face it, the legal profession is all about successful outcomes and lawyers are trained to succeed in achieving favorable outcomes for their clients.

Coaches are trained to help clients achieve powerful results. There are systems of accountability incorporated into the coaching process to move clients forward and deepen insights.

Coaching is a collaborative process that is focused and results oriented. A Professional Coach can help lawyers overcome challenges, increase strategic thinking and improve communication skills. In addition, many lawyers hire Coaches to help them develop a savvy professional image, cultivate ongoing career and personal goals and to achieve greater work-life balance. Unlike a consultant, a Coach doesn’t come in and solve the problem for you. Instead, a Coach partners with you to assess how best to resolve issues and achieve your goals. 

A Professional Coach can provide the insight, accountability, resources and strategic planning that a lawyer needs in order to build a successful career and fulfilling personal life.


 

 Below are 10 ways a lawyer can benefit by working with a Professional Coach.

1.  Achieve better focus. When the majority of your time is spent juggling cases, keeping track of clients, meeting goals for billables and balancing your personal life, it's hard to focus on anything other than making it through the day. A  Professional Coach will help you focus your energy so you can achieve your goals with greater ease despite your hectic schedule.

2.  Manage and Develop a Successful Legal Career.  Developing a successful career depends largely on your ability to structure your career in alignment with your personal and professional goals.  Coaching can help you clarify your vision and goals. When was the last time you considered what YOU want in your legal career and in your personal life? The practice of law is fast paced and it’s tough to find time to slow down and ask yourself some meaningful questions. Through Coaching, you'll have the opportunity to examine what you want, what motivates you, where you get stuck or distracted and much more. The coaching process allows you to learn about what you value, what it will take to build a fulfilling career and how you can design a balanced personal and professional life. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who was fully committed to you and your success? That’s the job of a Professional Coach.

3.  Develop a Values-Based Professional Development Plan.   Success doesn’t happen by accident. You must PLAN what you want to achieve and determine the best way to go about getting there. Consider your career plan as the roadmap for your career. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? How will you get there? What resources will you need?  A Coach can help you create a plan that is in alignment with your personal and professional values and overall vision for your life and career.

4.   Increase Productivity. Productive people have the ability to complete their work on time and in an efficient manner. How many times  have you committed to completing a task only to have the needs of someone else get in the way? At the core of Professional Coaching is accountability. Knowing that you've made a commitment to yourself AND told someone else about it, makes you more likely to stay on task. Your Coach holds you accountable for what you say you want to accomplish, and then continues to work with you as you achieve your goals and increase productivity.  

5.  Navigate a Job Change or Career Transition.  Too often, lawyers get locked into a job because they lack the tools needed to determine their next steps. Changing jobs, switching to a new practice area or transitioning to a new career can be tough. So tough in fact that many lawyers end up STUCK in an unfulfilling career.  A Coach can provide you with the insight, resources and feedback needed to make concrete decisions regarding your career. If it’s time to move up or out…a Coach can help you make that decision faster and with greater ease than you would on your own.

6. Improve Time Management and Practice Management Skills.  Lawyers are slaves to time yet few if any law schools provide training on how to successfully manage time. Case files, motions, clients, conference calls, deadlines, e-mails and meetings are simply a fraction of what goes on in a typical lawyer’s day. Too often everything feels like a priority and lawyers report feeling overwhelmed, stressed and ultimately burned out.  A Professional Coach can help you to take an honest look at your schedule and how you currently spend your time and manage your practice. Based on this information your Coach can help you create a strategy where you can achieve more in less time…often with more time for a healthy personal life.  Goodbye burnout!

7.  Develop a Unique Brand for Improved Marketing.  The practice of law is competitive and it’s important to create a brand that effectively communicates your value to your employer, colleagues and potential clients. Why should they hire you over another lawyer? A Coach can help you create and develop your unique value proposition and help you communicate it to others in a way that helps you develop a successful reputation and career.

8.  Discover your Passion in the Law.   Have you met lawyers who report feeling disillusioned with the law or report feeling lost?  These feelings tend to emerge in a career when there is a misalignment between the work the lawyer is involved in and his or her personal and professional values.  Sustaining a successful career in the law requires the pursuit and attainment of work in alignment with your passion, interests and strengths. Through Coaching you’ll have the opportunity to gain clarity about your ideal work and work environment   and then take the necessary action steps toward designing a successful and gratifying legal career.

9. Create Boundaries. Working with a Professional Coach can help you evaluate what you say "yes" to because you want to and what you need to quit saying "yes" to. A Coach can help you find the cure for the "disease to please" and the inability to delegate effectively.  Through coaching you’ll have the opportunity to consider what you  need to say "yes "to or "no" to in order to respect your boundaries and function more effectively in your legal career.

10. Achieve Work-Life Balance. Lawyers are required to maintain hectic schedules under incredibly stressful, high pressure situations. After maintaining such a pace many lawyers experience burnout, depression and other stress related illnesses. Like others in high pressure professions, lawyers need find an outlet to relieve the stress of work.  A Coach will help you to take charge and create a more balanced life.  A Professional Coach can help you find time for family, friends, hobbies AND a successful law career.

 

Jatrine Bentsi-Enchill, is an attorney, Certified Executive Coach, and the founder and director of the Esq. Development Institute, an organization committed to helping lawyers excel personally and professionally.  The Esq. Development Institute specializes in one on one executive and personal coaching for lawyers and training processes for law firms in leadership, communication, diversity, cultural competence, management development, and work-life balance. Ms. Bentsi-Enchill is quoted in The Pennsylvania Law Journal, Oprah magazine, Women’s Day and has articles published in the National Association of  Women Lawyers Journal, Canadian Bar Journal, and other  international legal publications. Contact info: JBE@esqdevelopmentInstitute.com,

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last updated August, 2007