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

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My approach to the billable hour problems

When coaching lawyers, the biggest obstacle likely to make them want to quit is feeling like they don’t have enough time.  I address this by making sure they have a big goal and that we have agreed upon a rigorous coaching structure up front.  Of course, this is valuable for any client, but I find it to be more critically important for lawyers since due to the time constrains, without a goal they are sufficiently invested in, the coaching will quickly fall to the wayside.

Mostly, I deal with the time management issues the same way I would deal with them with any other client.  The structure of the profession doesn’t change the basic fact that managing staff takes time and focus, but developing this skill pays off tremendously by yielding higher quality work, lower turnover, and reduced anxiety for the lawyer.

To help lawyers address some of the more intractable interoffice communication issues, I offer something that I call partnership coaching.  It is essentially a cross between couples counseling, mediation and coaching. It can veer more to one or another modality depending on the relationship between the partners, their desired outcome and the nature of the conflict.  For partnership coaching, it is essential that I be perceived as a neutral party, and therefore it doesn’t work if I have a preexisting relationship with one partner but not the other.  This offers an opportunity to work with other coaches.  Regardless of how good we are at coaching people on communication issues, there are times when a facilitated discussion between the parties would serve everyone’s interests.  Whether another coach calls me in to work with their client or whether I see a need for individual coaching based on the partnership coaching, there are inevitably opportunities to cooperate with other coaches.

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