Why Coaching Works for Lawyers

As a lawyer herself for 16 years, Cami is well-aware of the pressures facing not only law firms but sole practitioners.

Attorney Challenges:

In law school, attorneys are not taught to effectively practice law. Many attorneys begin their careers in a firm and practice law the way that firm practices law. Other attorneys hang out their shingle and learn as they go. Attorneys learn how to argue and win cases, how to navigate the court system, how to write briefs, but often do not know how to create relationships with clients that engender trust and confidence. As such many struggle with “client control” and getting referrals. Many attorneys do not know how to effectively balance work and home life to avoid burnout and stress. Practicing law is challenging in ways that other professions are not.

Cami is trained to assist attorneys in these areas and she helps them learn how to work more effectively and efficiently with more satisfaction overall. (See testimonials.)

Ways to Practice More Effectively:

Many attorneys never step back, take the 30,000 foot view of their practice and ask what works and what does not work. There are many different ways to evaluate your practice. One helpful way is to track your time for at least 2 weeks and record exactly where you spend your time. After gathering this and other information, Cami will work with you to redesign your practice and find innovative ways of creating the results you desire. Cami’s philosophy is that one must look at one’s entire life and not just bits and pieces of it, to see where the most effective changes can take place. For example, attorneys often do not make time for themselves outside of work. But we cannot compartmentalize our lives without feeling the effects. Everything we do and experience and feel in one area of our lives affects other areas of our lives. Cami encourages attorneys to observe their overall health and satisfaction in life.

Cami works with her clients to co-create solutions and strategies that are uniquely suitable to each individual. Coaches believe that all people are naturally creative and resourceful. As such, the attorneys Cami works with design ways to practice law that work for them as unique professionals. Cami assists attorneys to make change through weekly commitments and goal-setting, checking in with her to report their learning and accountability, and trying new things they may not have even thought to try before. Through the coaching relationship, the attorney finds new ways to practice law that suits her unique style and strengths as an attorney — and that complements her personal life.

Tools:

Cami offers many tools to assist attorneys with time management, relationship building, communication, and work/life balance. As a certified relationship coach, a certified leadership coach and a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner, she brings a wide variety of tools to the coaching relationship. For example, Cami coaches attorneys to practice communication skills, such as reflective listening and making clear requests and promises. As a result people understand them better and they create a level of comfort with their clients that engenders trust and produces referrals. After a few months of working with Cami, many attorneys find they work fewer hours, are more efficient, and feel more relaxed.

Sole Practitioners:

Practicing law and running your own business presents unique challenges for the sole practitioner. When they first hang out their shingle, attorneys often take whatever cases they can get. But practicing “door law” can present many challenges. Attorneys often do not have the quality of cases they would like. And they take on more than they can comfortably handle, fearing work might dry up. Or they notice their personality style is incompatible with trial work or transactional law or certain types of clients. Sometimes they even wonder if practicing law is right for them.

Cami is familiar with the unique challenges faced by sole practitioners and works with them to obtain the practice they dreamed of when they first hung out that shingle.

Finding What You Love/Finding What Works for You:

Many attorneys “fall into” an area of law, because of where they clerked during law school or where they landed that first job, without consciously determining if that area suited their personality or unique talents. Some attorneys do not like the adversarial nature of trial work, while others find transactional law dull or boring. When an attorney hires a coach, he examines the area of law he is in and the types of clients and cases he wants to take, and he uses his own talents, resources and creativity to find ways to attract them. He also takes an honest look at his strengths and weaknesses and how to make the practice of law not just profitable, but rewarding. Cami assists attorneys in consciously deciding what works best for them.

Signs a Coach May be Right for You:

  • You feel overworked, overwhelmed, under pressure, and generally stressed out. Your coach will assist you in creating a more peaceful, yet efficient and purposeful, state of being.
  • You find it difficult to keep up with everyday activities, like returning calls and answering e-mails; you find yourself rushing, doing tasks last minute; or receive negative comments from clients. Your coach will assist you with time management and balance, and help you learn how to do important tasks timely.
  • You feel unfulfilled in the practice of law. A coach can assist you in discovering what fulfills you, getting in touch with what drew you to the practice in the first place, or in some cases, in finding an area of law or a different career about which you are passionate.
  • You feel a lack of balance between your work and personal life. You may define yourself in terms of your career–to the detriment of your personal life. Your coach will assist you with inner work and personal growth to find a deeper meaning in your life that is more fundamental than just practicing law. Your coach will also assist you in honoring both your work and your personal life, for a more satisfying life overall.
  • You notice your relationships with colleagues, judges, opposing counsel or clients are strained or non-productive. Your coach will teach communication skills and strategies for effective listening and speaking, resulting in more effective relationships, and often a more persuasive manner.
  • You are having difficulty obtaining and retaining clients. Your coach will assist you in finding your unique ability to attract clients and maintain a working relationship with them.
  • You find it difficult to operate within an environment where conflict is the norm. Your coach will offer conflict resolution tools and coach to your unique style of dealing effectively with conflict.

How to Choose the Right Coach for You:

What if you have one of these issues and have decided to hire a coach. What do you look for? How will you find the right coach for you? Here are some suggestions:

  • Find out if your coach is formally trained. Many people call themselves “coaches” based on non-coach-specific training from other professions. Find out if your coach attended a coaching school and is certified as a coach.
  • Ask the coach what code of ethics she adheres to.
  • Conduct a personal interview. Many coaches offer a complimentary coaching session, knowing that coaching must be experienced to be understood. Notice the level of rapport and connection you have with the coach.
  • Ask the coach if she is a member of the ICF (International Coach Federation) or is credentialed by the ICF. Coaches who are credentialed by the ICF are required to pursue continuing education, the same as attorneys. Indeed most coaching schools require continuing education to maintain certification. Find a coach who voluntarily adheres to a code of ethics and is involved in continuing education and growth.

Summary:

Hiring a coach will enable a law firm to retain valuable attorneys who are skilled at the practice of law, but may be challenged in other areas.

Hiring a coach will enable the sole practitioner to work more efficiently, with less stress and more fulfillment.