Is your firm contemplating setting up a client development coaching program in 2016? I hope so.

I want to help you do it more successfully. When done well, a client development coaching program will be a tremendous return on investment and will increase revenue for many years to come.

When I was busy practicing law there came a point when I was so well known in my narrow transportation construction industry niche that I did not foresee generating new clients.

At that point I went to our firm leaders and offered to start a business development coaching program for our young partners. I told our firm leaders that I believed I could help younger lawyers develop their business.

When we began the firm coaching program, the young partners set a goal of doubling the group’s volume of business that we called “development credit” within two years.

Since the numbers were very low with some members of the group having no development credit, I thought we could easily exceed the goal. After one year the group had exceeded the goal and I had so much fun working with them that I left my law firm and starting working with lawyers full time.

Diverse team

What is the Client Development Coaching Program?

It is a partnership among your firm, your lawyers who are selected to be part of the Program, and the coach. Each has a contribution to make the program successful.

Who are the best candidates for coaching?

The lawyers in your firm who you think “need” coaching the least. The lawyers who strive each day to learn and become a more valuable lawyer.

What should the coach do?

First, make sure your coach doesn’t think “one size fits all.” It doesn’t. One of the most successful lawyers I coached became successful when she figured out she didn’t have to do it the way the senior lawyer in her group did it.

Each coach approaches the task differently, but I believe most will help with:

  1. Planning and goal setting.
  2. Encouraging and pushing each member and the group to attain group and individual goals.
  3. Role playing and experiential learning.
  4. Ideas for client development.
  5. Teaching and applying client development techniques.
  6. Presentation/communication/writing articles/blog posts skills coaching.
  7. Referral to sources on career and client development.
  8. Team coaching and team accountability.
  9. Create opportunities for teambuilding.
  10. Helping build self-confidence and helping overcome obstacles.
  11. Feedback and suggestions on efforts.
  12. Help with staying focused.
  13. Connections with other lawyers both in and outside the firm.
  14. Source to share ideas and brainstorm.
  15. Make firm leadership aware if any participant is not meeting his or her commitments.

What commitments should your lawyers make?

  1. Take responsibility for their own success and hold themselves accountable.
  2. Prepare for each coaching session and provide an agenda in advance to the coach.
  3. Notify the coach if any coaching sessions must be rescheduled.
  4. Prepare a business development plan with goals – for individual and group goals.
  5. Monitor client development activities and results and communicate them monthly to __________.
  6. Provide the coach with monthly/quarterly planned client development activities.
  7. Advise all members of the coaching group of successes and best practices.
  8. Keep an open mind to try new things.
  9. Engage wholeheartedly in group and individual agreed-upon coaching action items.
  10. Make efforts to find client opportunities for other members of the group and other members of the firm.
  11. Integrate client development into everyday habits.
  12. Commit to spend at least __ hours per month on client development and the coaching program.

What commitments should your firm make?

  1. Funding for the program.
  2. Firm leaders must demonstrate interest and involvement in the program by attending programs and providing encouragement and support.
  3. Work with the coach to schedule group and individual coaching sessions.
  4. Share organizational changes with the coach to help him have a context for the program.
  5. Provide ongoing feedback to the coach and program participants.
  6. Make professional development and marketing departments available for support.
  7. Help program participants to define and implement success measures.
  8. Provide opportunities for participants to share what they have learned with other members of the firm.

Think about 15 self-motivated junior partners and senior associate lawyers in your firm. What impact would they have on the firm if they were able to double their collective volume of business over a two-year period?

I have seen it happen many times and the energy surrounding their success is contagious.

Why not give it a try in 2016?