By Cheryl Leone, Law Firm Coach
At first this may seem a self-serving article but it is not. Rest assured out of every fifty lawyers or legal professionals who call us we might be involved with one. The rest we give some advice and make a friend going forward. So do you need a coach? Probably not right now but it is a good idea to find out what is on the market.
Before you even consider hiring a coach figure out what it is you need help with. Most of the time what someone calls us about is not the key issue and it takes some talking and probing in order to figure out what is really needed. The first rule is to be suspicious of someone who gives you lots of answers without lots of questions first; particularly if there is an immediate talk about a price. A good coach/mentor wants to know what is needed to get in the game with you.
Finding the right person is just as important as the right credentials. Be careful there are lots of people out there calling themselves coaches; even our website name says that. But if you read further you will see Law Firm Coach is a mentoring company which is a way of saying we transfer our knowledge to you and help you create a plan that you can execute. We back this up with lots of years of experience with lawyers and law firms.
I am always amazed when people tell me they have a coach who has no clue about the real world of lawyers. Dave came from the world of corporate American. He had 20 years with IBM, was a project manager consultant and when he did the first law firm with me his famous words were “there is no difference between law firms and other businesses.” To this day he will tell you he ate his words the first six months we spent on the first law firm and he preaches now that there is a big difference.
There is something to be said for ‘been there done that’ mentality in your coach or mentor.
Finally simply put one small piece of the apple doth not an apple pie make. It needs all the pieces from lots of apples to turn out a great pie.. We have found from experience we have to see all the pieces of a puzzle to know what the real issue is. Our process is to start first with a look at the client. We put the client through a thought process that helps develop core values for decision making. The client’s vision and dreams are woven into the mix so that whatever path the client wants to take has a solid purpose behind the plan. Then we get down to the law firm and issues. Once we see where our client wants to go then we begin a systematic approach to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the firm. (SWOT Analysis). The SWOT approach is key to going forward and it allows the law firm owner a real chance to see what the future looks like.
I am the first to admit someone can come in and solve one problem but I question whether that solves the real problem. We are not the only game in town and our advice is to start first with a phone call to find out what the company or coach offers you. Listen to what they say. How do you feel with this person? Coaching is one thing. Mentoring is another. Mentoring is all about a trusting relationship and I tend to believe you feel some synergy right at the start. Ask all the questions you want. Then ask for some references of other lawyers like yourself they may have worked for.
At some point there will be someone you feel is giving you good advice. Our experience has been that when lawyers are ready to commit they are ready. Until then they are simply trying to find a way out of the dilemma they are in. We gladly talk to them and offer short term suggestions because some time that is enough. We believe others should do this as well if they are going to make an impact in your life and your firm. Doesn’t mean we are right but it sure doesn’t mean we are wrong as well.
The real question you have to ask yourself is are you ready to listen to good advice and make changes. Change is hard and can cause some upheaval. Don’t start what you are not ready to finish. Our favorite saying is out of chaos comes change and out of change comes growth.
Cheryl Leone and Dave Favor are the originators of Catalyst Group, Inc. With backgrounds in law firm management and corporate level business, Cheryl and Dave created a new look at law firms by transforming low performing firms and businesses into for profit firms. By adding the leadership and self-mastery component to the company, they have impacted the daily lives of many in helping them define who they are and where they want to go.
Cheryl and Dave feel it first has to be about their relationships with their clients who share similar core values. Many have started with Cheryl and Dave`s free back yard porch consultations at their home. Cheryl and Dave have created and surrounded themselves and their clients with a trusted team who are highly qualified in their fields.
Asked one time to sum up what Catalyst does, Cheryl quickly replied `We convert dreams to reality`.
About the Authors
Principals Dave Favor and Cheryl Leone are the founders of Catalyst Group, Inc. with its corporate offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. Rounding out the Coaches is Attorney Carl Solomon of Columbia, South Carolina. They share a common value and belief system that everyone deserves a chance to work for themselves and do it in such a way that it is profitable, enjoyable and respected by others. For more information email our Head Coach.
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