When I started teaching client development to lawyers in my old law firm, I made an important discovery-one shot client development training programs do not work. Our lawyers listened and were inspired,  but they did not change what they were doing. That is why I started our law firm client development coaching program. This is also the reason your firm should try client development coaching.

Yesterday I read an interesting Inc. Magazine article by Geoffrey James: How to Master any Skill. This article confirms my points on one shot training programs. Quoting best selling author, Greg Wingard, James outlines the six steps to mastering a skill. Three of the steps are “theory” and the other three are “practice.”

The Theory Segment

  • Unawareness: You are unaware that there is a skill to be learned.
  • Awareness: You realize you need to learn that skill.
  • Clarification: You understand what you need to do differently.

The Practice Segment

  • Awkwardness: You attempt the new behavior and find it difficult.
  • Familiarity: The new behavior is easier but still not automatic.
  • Automatic: You no longer think about the behavior but simply do it.

I recently wrote about the importance of starting client development training and coaching with young lawyers in my post; How to Make Client Development Natural for Your Young Lawyers. Here is the important point: You, and other lawyers in your firm, will go through the six stages listed above, whether you and they start learning in the first year or their 20th year practicing law.

Client development coaching is the proven way to get through “The Practice Segment.” Over the last year, I have been giving presentations around the country to show law firms how they can set up their own internal client development coaching program. As you know yesterday we did the presentation as a webinar. Here is the Webinar recording and the handout materials CD Coaching Webinar Feb 2012.

Think about the associates and junior partners in your law firm. What stage are they in moving towards mastering client development and making it automatic? What is your firm doing to help them?