How to Pick a Coach to Help Build Your Law Practice

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Many attorneys are turning to business coaches to help them develop solid business plans or law firm marketing plans.  This is a great idea but selecting a coach to help you build your practice can be a difficult decision.  There is no licensing agency that regulates coaching.  There are a few groups that “certify” people to be coaches but the criteria set by these agencies are often arbitrary and self serving. 

There are a few franchise business coaching companies that provide coaching models.  The intellectual property that these companies have developed is good but often remedial – especially for logical process oriented folks.

Any of these solutions might serve your purposes.  The question is: How do you know if you coach is qualified to work with you?

Here are some things to look at when deciding who to work with to help you build your practice:

Look for a structured coaching format and a proven process.

A good coach has a curriculum and good diagnostic tools to help identify “need areas” for their clients.  Although everyone has different needs and every practice is a little different, taking a focused approach is important. 

Ask your coach how you will decide what to focus on first in your work together.  Ask them about the “basics” of their coaching work.  They should talk about helping you with goal setting, sales and marketing strategy and work/life balance issues.  This stuff is important and it is the “bread and butter” of coaching.  The coaches that use the franchise systems will have these basics covered and they will follow a structured diagnostic process that will help you get started quickly.  Coaches who freelance (or just wing it) may have a difficult time honing in on the key issues that you need to focus on to move your business forward.

Ask about the coach’s background. 

Every coach has a FIRST client.  But it doesn’t have to be YOU!

Don’t work with a coach who has never helped build a successful law practice.  Your coach should know what success looks like in order to help you succeed.  Sure, it’s true that your coach’s main job is to get you to believe in yourself - and you don’t need experience to do that – but for credibility purposes you want to work with someone who has walked a mile in your shoes.  If you are an executive, you should work with a coach who has experience in the executive ranks of the corporate world.

If you have a special problem, look for a specialist. 

If your problem is in sales and marketing, look for a coach with expertise in sales and marketing.  If you have finance issues, look for an expert in finance.  If you have trouble hiring and keeping staff you should look for someone who has expertise in that area.  Specialists can address your issues quickly and effectively.

Ultimately, there are many, many qualified people out there who can coach you.  The key is finding someone who is a good match for your needs