My Experience With Lawyer Coaching

You may be asking yourself why any lawyer would need a coach?

I once asked myself this same question. To get to the answer you have to first understand the simple fact that a law practice–any law practice–cannot succeed without clients. In a private law firm practice your clients usually come from two sources: other lawyers in the firm who have the “client relationship” or your own clients that come to you directly. If you’ve been around a law firm, you know that it is very easy to tell the difference between those lawyers who have the client relationships and those who work for them.

Which would you rather be?

How’s that for an answer? I want to be the “client relationship” lawyer and, therefore, made a decision to put more effort into developing my own clients. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to do it. Like most lawyers, I always believed that if I did good work and put in my time, the clients would come to me. While I have had little difficulty learning that does not work, it was not so easy learning what does. I had the desire but lacked the knowledge.

Fortunately, I found Cordell Parvin’s website and began reading his blog and articles on a regular basis. There are many very good lawyer coaches out there but I was drawn to Cordell’s style of coaching because he not only encourages lawyers to work on client development but actually explains the practical steps for how real live practicing lawyers can do it–in a way that makes sense to me.

“They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them…you show them the reasons.” -Vince Lombardi

Spend a little time reading Cordell’s blog posts and you will see what I mean. Then imagine what you can learn from an entire program that ties it all together.

I had a chance to participate in the beta test for Cordell’s new client development series Securing, Retaining and Expanding Relationships with Your Clients and the value of the information exceeded my expectations. Any blog-length comments on the substance simply would not do it justice. I did, however, have a few observations about the individual components of the program that I shared in a guest post on Cordell’s blog and I would encourage you to give it a read: Client Development: Video, Workbook and Group Telephone Coaching Program.

If you have any questions about this program, Cordell’s coaching, or lawyer coaching in general, please feel free to let me know and I will be happy to talk with you about my thoughts and experiences.

4 thoughts on “My Experience With Lawyer Coaching

  1. You should also check out Ed Poll. He’s very hands-on, results-oriented. Have you looked into Solo Practice University?

    I’d be interested to hear your perspectives on lecture vs. practicum approach to lawyer coaching. Seems like there are a lot of coaches who write and speak about what you should do, and 1:1 counseling sessions, but few who actually sit down with you to make it actionable — the difference between giving you a template and working with you to fill it out and put it in action.

    1. Hey Jay, thank you for the info — I have not checked out either of those sources but I certainly will.

      Regarding my perspective on the coaching, I put a lot of it into a blog I wrote today about my experience: Are you like Clark Griswold or Ray Lewis? To add to that, and specifically address the question on the lecture vs. practicum approach, its no question that I much prefer the practicum one-on-one approach.

      For me, now looking back on all of the years of missed opportunities, motivation is not an issue — I am motivated and willing to do what it takes which means I do a heck of a lot of reading of materials on how to get better at it. I’ve been reading the materials from several different “lawyer coaches” for a while now and have learned a lot from many of them. Honestly, perhaps its because of my insane ADD in a social setting, but I really can’t learn things as well from a lecture as I can from reading them on my own so, even if I were to sit through a lecture, the only way I’d really get the material presented is if I went back and read it on my own anyway. Because of that, I decided to learn as much as I could from reading the coaches’ written materials and then move into the actual coaching phase. In that vein, I do appreciate having a template to fill in and do my own homework and preparation — but as an initial step, not the last in the process.

      During the process of reading the materials, I found that I really had a connection with Cordell’s style and what he said in the written materials really got through to me in a way the others’ didn’t. A big part of the reason goes to the fact that Cordell does exactly what you alluded to — he doesn’t just give you lofty overly generalized aspirations on what you should be doing, but he tells you exactly what you should do with a level of specificity that you don’t have to guess — you leave with a list of real action items to go execute. That is what I need. I don’t need someone to motivate me and tell me that I need to be developing business — I’ve learned that just as when I played football I didn’t need a coach to tell me to tackle the ball carrier! I don’t need someone telling me I need to go where clients are and develop a reputation with them so that they will hire me — just as I didn’t need the coach telling me that the ball carrier was the guy in the opposite color uniform holding the ball and running in my direction. I know that too. (Jay, can you tell I am really anxious for football season? That Mike Singletary / Ray Lewis video made me want to go suit up this 240 lbs of blubber and hit the field again! — sorry, I digress!)

      Anyway, I needed someone to tell me exactly how to get to make the connections with those clients and exactly what I needed to be doing once I make those connections to increase the likelihood that they will want me to be their lawyer. To go back to the strained football analogy, someone to tell me why when I made my initial step backwards instead of forward, or turned my hips to the outside instead of the inside, or put my head on the inside instead of the outside of the runner, I didn’t make the tackle. That’s what Cordell does — he coaches me on the things I do not know — the fine points that I need to know to become better at what I’m doing.

      The other thing that made Cordell a good fit for me was that we seem to have relatively similar personality styles. I’m not the “salesman” type — I can’t just walk into a room of strangers and start flinging around business cards and saying “hey, look at me, I’m a lawyer and I’m great — I’ll win your case — just hire me and I’ll show you!” LOL (yeah, you and I both know these types — sadly, it often works too!) Similarly, I can’t get up and do a lot of talking about stuff I don’t really know and make a bunch of overblown promises even if it means getting some great business. And, I can’t ask people for business — I just can’t do it. People I meet know what I do and they know whether they need or want what I can do for them; I am not going to put them on the spot and make them uncomfortable by asking outright “hey, why haven’t you hired me to be your lawyer?” It’s just not me, even if it means “closing the deal” more often. Fortunately, Cordell will tell you that’s not him either and that is not the style he used when he was in practice. Rather, the style he teaches is to develop such a level of expertise in your niche (not name!) that people will eventually seek out your services because of that expertise, first, and then, the next step, find ways of getting their attention so that they know what you know. Then, use those opportunities to form relationships and, from those relationships will come your business. (I’m way overly simplifying this — but this is the general gist that I take from it). This is what fits me and my personality and, because that is the style that he teaches, it was a natural fit for me.

      This is why simply reading his materials gave me a great start down my journey because it all made sense to me. It made enough sense to me to get me to the point of being the Clark Griswold washing machine in my post from today. And trust me, that was a heck of a lot better than I had been doing before — by leaps and bounds. But it wasn’t until we had the one-on-one sit down session that I was able to look and see things in a whole different light — see how I needed to now refine my efforts from just working hard to working smarter.

      Jay, I hope this helps and answers your questions. As always, if there is anything else I can do, please let me know and I am happy to help!

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