Home Concepts Strategy Coaching in Legal Institutions The Good, the Bad and the Non-Billable: The Reality of Coaching Lawyers

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

19 min read

Sometimes, though, it can take a lot longer to address the deeper issues. Sylvia* provides an example.  She is the managing partner of a boutique international law firm.  The majority of lawyers in small firms work on individual or small business issues, but in her case, she works with large multinational companies.  I started working with her two years after she started the firm. She had a beautiful, elegant office space, a couple good associates and was trying to figure out how to expand.  In our first session, we designed a project plan focused on getting her listed in the Legal 500, a well-respected website that lists the top law firms around the world.  We met weekly and the sessions would generally focus on finding enough time for the project we created, managing staff, and her feelings of anxiety.  Once she was able to start moving forward on the project we would also discuss progress, next steps, etc. Although she read books about management, she had no experience with personal growth, so working with underlying assumptions or other deeper level inquiries didn’t work very well.  So, I followed her lead and let the conversations stay at what I saw as a fairly superficial level, but I also gradually introduced concepts like fact versus interpretation or the importance of authenticity to human connection.  Her anxiety was a great access point for such conversations.  Sometimes, I would introduce a concept or an exercise, but if she didn’t seem receptive I would drop it and try again six months or a year later.  We worked together for four years.  There were times where I felt like a bad coach because I wasn’t making the speed or degree of progress to which I was accustomed, but in her case the slow but steady approach paid off.  She now has a thriving practice and a great relationship with the people in her life and most importantly, with herself.

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