I love coaching senior associates and junior partners, especially when they are energized and want to learn more.

Most lawyers my age never had coaching on client development when they were senior associates or junior partners. So, naturally many ask why it is important for lawyers now.

There are several reasons why coaching is important.

First, developing business now is more challenging than it was 35-40 years ago. When I was a junior partner we could develop business by just “doing good work,” getting an AV Martindale rating and being active in the community. There were far fewer lawyers, almost all clients were local and loyal.

Now, each year the competition is greater, clients have been acquired and merged, client expectations have increased and the time available for business development has decreased.

Second, many junior partners are in the transition stage of their career where they are moving from being solely service providers to being responsible for building client relationships and developing new business. For many young partners, client development is a mystery.

Third, in 2016, there are far more ways to do client development than ever before. As a result of the mystery, lawyers client development efforts may be unstructured, unfocused, and ultimately unsuccessful.

They procrastinate, are undisciplined, have no plan, little focus, and ultimately little or no execution. Mentors within the firm can balance the current situation with both institutional firm knowledge and their own experience, but they do not have the time to focus on the business development of more junior partners.

John Wooden Activity

 

Coaching is designed to assist junior partners in their client development and ultimately make client development a habit.

Like working with a fitness coach, participants learn what activities will provide the greatest benefit to them and then will have regularly scheduled sessions with the coach to report on activities and learn more.

Any coaching program should include:

  • Developing a Business Plan that includes the non-billable activities designed to lead to the greatest return on investment
  • Determining both group and individual goals that will challenge and stretch them
  • Determining what activities to undertake to meet their goals
  • Learning how to write articles and blog posts and give presentations that will enhance their reputation and increase their chances of getting hired
  • Developing a Focused Contacts Plan
  • People skills including asking questions and actively listening
  • Being held accountable