I returned from Denver last night. On Tuesday after coaching, I planned my solo dinner. I was staying at the Westin and the easiest thing to do would have been to eat at The Palm.

I’ve done that before and I enjoy their steaks. But, I wanted to do something different. So, I started a search for restaurants within walking distance of the Westin. I finally settled on Red Square Bistro.

What about that restaurant appealed to me? For one thing, they offer a wide variety of Vodkas. After all it is a Vodka Bar. I also discovered they were known for their Beef Stroganoff. I ordered it and it was the best I have eaten.

What does this have to do with client development coaching? The short answer is when I am coaching lawyers, I am looking for what makes that lawyer unique and different and then we focus on how we can best use that to develop business and relationships.

So with that story, let’s get to the point of the post.

I started coaching before I left my law firm. I enjoyed it so much that I gave up my law practice to do it full time.

I’ve been coaching lawyers in US and Canadian firms for over 11 years and over that time I have a few observations that might help you if you decide to coach your lawyers.

What does it take to coach lawyers?

Some experts hold the view that in executive coaching, the coach does not need to be a subject matter expert.

I believe that in client development coaching for lawyers, the coach does need to be a successful lawyer who has developed business. Lawyers are skeptical and they are less likely to listen and pay attention to someone who is not a lawyer or a lawyer who doesn’t have a proven track record.

So, the coach should be a lawyer in the firm who is well respected by his or her peers and has a proven track record.

Coaches also need to be open minded to more than one approach. What made the coach a rainmaker may not work for some or all of the lawyers in the program.

The coach must recognize that one size does not fit all. The coach must work to develop good questions, actively listen and be empathetic to the lawyers he or she is coaching.  Coaching is less about giving the right answers and more about asking the right questions.

What Will You Do As a Coach?

As a coach you will help the lawyers you are coaching with:

  1. Figuring out what they want to accomplish-their definition of success.
  2. Understanding their values.
  3. Planning and goal setting.
  4. Figuring out their major strengths and offering ideas and best practices on how to use those strengths.
  5. Figure out the best ways to deal with obstacles they encounter.
  6. Questions, feedback and suggestions.
  7. Accountability: This could be your most important role. Pushing each member and the group to attain group and individual goals.

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 6.59.48 AM

As a trainer and teacher you will help the lawyers with and by:

  1. Role playing and experiential learning.
  2. Presentation/communication/writing articles and blogs skills coaching.
  3. Understanding how clients select lawyers and how to be considered and selected.
  4. Networking, developing relationships and converting those relationships into business.
  5. Referral to sources on career and client development.
  6. Create opportunities for team.
  7. What clients expect and how to provide it.
  8. The role of blogging and social media.

I loved practicing law. I chose to leave my law practice because I get even greater joy when a lawyer finds an even greater success and fulfillment than he or she thought was possible.