The Good, the Bad and the Non-Billable: The Reality of Coaching Lawyers

Anna Rappaport April 14, 2015 0
The Good, the Bad and the Non-Billable: The Reality of Coaching Lawyers

I love coaching lawyers because they tend to be smart, passionate about justice and generally receptive to logic and direct feedback.  The following is my perspective on what makes lawyers different from many other professionals and how I approach coaching them.  Though, first, I think it is important to emphasize the range of people in the legal profession.  When people think about lawyers they often have an image of a smart, highly paid, aggressively adversarial courtroom litigator; but the reality is much more varied.  Few lawyers spend much, if any, time in court. Many have quiet, understated personalities.  Nonetheless, there are numerous characteristics common among lawyers and among law firms, which, as a coach, present both opportunities and challenges.  In this article, I will focus on just three areas and how I approached them in my coaching practice.

Trained for one thing, then expected to do another

American lawyers typically spend years working long hours, researching, writing, learning all the details of some very specialized area of law, becoming a true expert in that area; and then suddenly the requirements change and they are expected to switch gears and learn how to sell themselves and bring in their own clients.  This would be challenging regardless of the profession, but for lawyers it is particularly difficult because the skills and mindset required to find and retain new clients differ completely from, and in some ways are diametrically opposed to, those needed to be an excellent attorney.

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