4 Ways to Take Law Firm Coaching Beyond Business Development

by JD Supra Perspectives

Coaching programs can have an impact much more broadly across the firm...

Law firm leaders are generally familiar with the concept of coaching, but many of them still associate it primarily with a marketing and business development purpose. Coaching programs can have an impact much more broadly across the firm. Here are four additional areas where coaching can influence positive outcomes.

1. Lateral integration

Lateral hires are a key strategy for many law firms to increase top-line numbers. Firms invest considerable resources in this approach and have high expectations for new lawyers. Typically, the firm rolls out the red carpet in a great show of welcome, but that enthusiasm quickly gives way to pressure to perform. 

To be successful, the lateral must be truly integrated in the firm, and that takes an intentional approach to the hiring process, an onboarding plan, and a significant commitment from key firm players and the lateral alike.

A coach can assist the lateral in creating goals, prioritizing activities, and delivering accountability...

The lateral should get up to speed quickly on the firm – practices, clients, culture, internal politics. Simultaneously, she has to devote time to marketing herself inside the firm, educating partners on her practice, and building relationships with key stakeholders. A coach can assist the lateral in creating goals, prioritizing activities, and delivering accountability, helping ensure a smooth transition and successful integration. 

2. Succession planning

Ask any Managing Partner what keeps them up at night and odds are you will hear concerns about succession planning. The successful transition of both client relationships and firm leadership roles is imperative to the long-term sustainability of the law firm. A coach can help assuage fears about both.

A coach can offer an unbiased perspective and help facilitate crucial conversations.

Client relationship succession planning is often personal and can be difficult. It requires the participation of the transitioning partner, the identification of an appropriate successor at the firm, and the willingness of the client. A coach can offer an unbiased perspective and help facilitate crucial conversations. They can also serve as a sounding board to test ideas and strategies for implementing the plan. 

Succession planning for firm leadership roles is just as crucial. We often hear concerns about whether the next generation of leadership is ready to lead. Coaches can help develop these potential leaders through dialogue and role play on topics such as discovering their leadership style, handling conflict, managing underperforming partners, or using business intelligence in decision making. 

3. Administrative teams

Coaches aren’t just for lawyers. The administration function of the law firm is responsible for the business of law, and they need access to training, professional development, and coaching too. The same coaching principals of planning, focusing, prioritizing, creating habits, and accountability used in coaching lawyers are applicable to the finance, HR, IT, knowledge management, recruiting, and marketing departments. 

...coaches can be helpful in cross-function scenarios to help ensure opportunities and efficiencies aren’t missed due to internal silos.

Additionally, coaches can be helpful in cross-function scenarios to help ensure opportunities and efficiencies aren’t missed due to internal silos. They can coordinate teamwork and facilitate discussions about process improvement as well as provide an outside perspective to be sure the firm’s administrative teams aren’t missing the forest for the trees. 

4. Mentoring

Some people use mentoring and coaching interchangeably, but they typically serve different purposes. Mentoring is long-term and relationship focused whereas coaching is typically short-term and project focused. Coaches can be additive for the mentee when there is a particular skillset or competency that has been identified as an area of focus. 

Coaches can be additive for the mentor in helping them prioritize...

Mentors are often senior leaders with hectic schedules who have excellent intentions that aren’t always translated into their actions. Coaches can be additive for the mentor in helping them prioritize mentoring and holding them accountable for doing it. 

Intentionality. Strategy. Accountability. The benefits of coaching extend beyond the marketing and business development function with which they are often associated. When planning your next coaching program, consider alternative applications for this proven strategy.

[Society 54 Co-Founder Heather McCullough is two parts wit and one part tenacity, with heaping doses of creativity and intellect on the side. Heather represents the power of hard work, strategy and collaboration. For more than 14 years, she has brought game-changing results to professional services firms through coaching and consulting on business development and client service best practices.]


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