Archive for November, 2006

Fellow International Lawyers: Meet me in Miami for ABA’s International Law Section meeting

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

If you are attending the ABA’s International Law Section meeting next week in Miami (November 8-11), please look for me.  I’ll be there for the pre-conference event titled Networking 101:  It’s Easier than you Think from 5:30-6:45 at the University of Miami Law School, and then at the conference the rest of the week.

What do I coach my lawyer clients about?

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Lots of people ask me how my clients find me, and what kinds of issues I address with my lawyer clients.  So, I thought I’d write a blog post explaining this.

A prospective client usually contacts me by phone or email. Sometimes they have found me through my website or have read one of my articles posted on another site.  Other times they have met me at a conference, have heard me speak or have been referred to me by another lawyer client, acquaintance or former attorney colleague of mine.

Prospective clients always want to know whether I can coach them about their particular issue(s).  Here are some of the most common issues that my lawyer clients have sought coaching for.

Often law firm lawyers want help with client development techniques; they want to develop clients in a way that is comfortable for them. Perhaps they are shy about public speaking or networking at large social events, and they need some client development techniques that they would actually use.  Or, perhaps they are already pretty good at client development but want to go to the next level and become a real rainmaker. 

Maybe they are up for partner in a few years, and want to prove that they have the rainmaking savvy it takes to become partner at their firm.  Or, sometimes they have had a drop off in business and they are not sure why; they need some new client development tools.

In each case, we customize some client development strategies that work for that particular lawyer.  Sometimes tried and true client developments techniques need to be tweaked and adapted to fit an individual lawyer’s personality and talents.  The lawyer has to feel comfortable doing the techniques–or he/she just won’t follow through.

Some lawyers want to take their career the next level by making partner, or becoming a more powerful and prominent practitioner.  So, they want coaching on leadership skills, public speaking, and the like.  Perhaps they want to create some strategies for enhancing their public image and getting some media attention.

As globalization increases, lawyers increasingly want to develop more international skills and international clients.  So, they come to me for coaching and consulting about how to grow international practices.

Other lawyers (solos, law firm and in-house practitioners) work with me to help with procrastination, time management and organizational skills.  Maybe their offices are messy–and so are their practices.  Things keep falling through the cracks, and so these lawyers call because they want to get back on track.

Often lawyers need some communications coaching so that they can communicate better with (and showcase their value to) Boards of Directors, CEOs, Managing Partners and other senior lawyers and executives.  Not long ago I helped a general counsel prepare for a Board presentation.  Taking the information we knew about the Board members, we crafted his presentation in a way that communicated his message clearly–and demonstrated how invaluable he was to the company.

  The goal is for the lawyer to learn how to communicate in a way that the person who is listening can actually understand what the lawyer is saying.  For example, many lawyers have trouble with support staff that don’t follow directions.  Recently I coached a client whose work wasn’t getting done by his paralegal and secretary.  We developed a system for him to delegate work to his support staff clearly and efficiently, and now his work flows smoothly.

And then there are lawyers who feed burned out, and they want to transition jobs– within or outside the law.  This is very common, especially if a lawyer has been in a high stress practice (like litigation), or has suddenly discovered that law or their particular area of the law isn’t for them. In that case, we coach about career options, identifying what they want to do next in their career, and find some realistic choices. 

For example, not long ago I helped a trial lawyer who was unhappy–but didn’t know why.  We used some objective assessment tools, and the attorney realized that being in the courtroom was stressful and unsatisfying.  This litigator has now transitioned to a research based practice, and is thrilled to be out of the courtroom and in a more serene practice.

  In another recent case, I helped an attorney with some quick, intense interview coaching; there wasn’t much time before her pending interviews and so we had to work intently for several weeks.  After receiving several offers, she’s now happily practicing in a well paying position.

Although I don’t place attorneys in jobs, I can recommend good legal recruiters.  I also use my experience in house, at a big law firm, and as an entrepreneur, to help clients carve out career paths and strategies.