I recently read an article in The Recorder on the rise of coaching in law firms. The article noted that a growing number of firms are hiring coaches in-house.
“Whether career or leadership related, coaching brings opportunity for expanding capacity, skill and self-awareness. In talking with many of these law firm coaches, we find that coaching is about growing, stretching yourself and often about navigating change. Coaching is appropriate anytime a person wants to take on something new — learning something new, getting to the next level in your career, becoming better at something or making a change, such as to a new practice area, office or even leaving the practice of law.”
Says the in-house career coach for Orick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, “At Orrick, you’ll find amazing partners and senior associates who will teach you to be a top lawyer. But it’s harder to find someone to help you think about your internal brand and how to project that to others in your firm. Coaching has a strong role to play in helping us learn how to be good managers and how to relate well with colleagues. The truth is, those elements are just as important in being successful in a big firm as being able to write an amazing brief,” she adds.
I agree. More and more, law firms are learning that the so-called “soft skills” are imperative to the successful practice of law. These include skills such as communication, trust-building, accountability and time management. These are skills not taught in law school, but a foundational part of coaching.
“Let’s face it. There are very real pressures on lawyers in big law firms today and that’s not changing anytime soon. You must be really good, really efficient and be the one clients choose when there are many options in the market. All those pressures make the perfect recipe for receiving coaching. If you have to perform at that level, chances are that on your own you may come up with some good strategies. But with the support of someone who has your back, knows what you want, and is willing to hold you accountable is a real bonus and more likely to help you be successful.”
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