Home Concepts Strategy Coaching in Legal Institutions Peer to Peer Coaching: A Model

Peer to Peer Coaching: A Model

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This article posits that many highly skilled professionals do not get the opportunity to self-assess capacity when assuming a new or different role. The Judicial Capacity Wheel gives both the judge and the mentor (judicial) coach the opportunity to focus on the areas that will assist the judge in his/her acculturation in the complex judicial environment.

In the DC Superior Court, one tool they fleshed out is a 52-week schedule (originally created by a Massachusetts Judge) that recommends weekly events and activities. The DC Superior Court extended the 52-week schedule to include topics for discussion, e.g., practical questions, boundary management, staff hiring, and supervision, listening skills, and courtroom management, to name a few.

The DC Superior Court judicial coaches also had the experience of being coached using the ProfileXT, a validated instrument that measures learning index, behavioral traits and interests. The use of instruments, (both ipsative and validated) are commonly used in coaching relationships, again, as a complementary tool to the coaching dialog.

Benefits and Lessons Learned (so far)

There have been a number of surprising and unanticipated benefits gleaned these five plus years. Among the most profound learning was the expressed desire and need to expand mentor coaching as an offering for all judges, including the chief justices of the Massachusetts trial courts. The J2J Program has evolved as a way to enhance job satisfaction, study and understand motivation and intention, and to raise and scrutinize assumptions and actions. A particularly wonderful unanticipated benefit is the expressed renewal and a sense of satisfaction and recommitment to their work by the core group of focused mentors, as well as their coaching colleagues.

There are a number of lessons learned about what is needed to provide infrastructure support to sustain and maintain a robust program. First and foremost, a peer-to-peer coaching program requires commitment and support from court leadership. In the Massachusetts program, the chief justices of the trial courts are vital in terms of matching and assigning of mentor coaches and mentees. They are also critical in ensuring adequate time for mentor coaches to be effective in the mentor coach relationship. Mentor coaches need ongoing education, time to review and refine best practices, and, in particular, opportunities to work on their skills and to share time with other mentor coaches.

In the District of Columbia Superior Court, the chief judge is actively involved with the judicial coaching program from the assignment of coaches, to the development of policies to support it. His presence at the core educational programs reaffirms his commitment to the program’s successful implementation in their judicial system.

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