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Best Practice tip of the week: When should a firm consider coaching for attorneys?

Asked and Answered By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q. I am sole owner of a small firm with one employed associate attorney, a paralegal, and a legal assistant. I am having problems staying focused and managing my practice and have considered coaching. When should a firm consider hiring a coach? A. The day-to-day stress of practicing law and serving clients leaves little time for focusing and investing in the future of the firm. When attorneys exhibit the following it may be time for a coach:
  • Stuck and unable to move forward on new initiatives
  • Indecision paralysis
  • Lack of commitment, inertia, self-accountability or follow-up
  • Poor implementation skills
  • Lack of management, leadership, interpersonal, or other needed skills.
Training and skill development is not easy. Studies reveal that 90 percent of the people who attend seminars and training sessions see no improvement because they don't take the time to implement what they learn. Practices create habits and habits determine your future. Up to 90 percent of our normal behavior is based on habits. The key to skill learning is to get the new skill to become a habit. Once the new habit is well developed it becomes your new normal behavior. This requires practice. Unfortunately, attorneys do not have time to practice and experiment. The coach's role is that of steward, facilitative leader and teacher. Click here to read more John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC,  is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA General ListServ, which the John and other committee members reviews, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. John may be contacted via e-mail at

Posted on December 16, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
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