Frequently Asked Questions

How is coaching different than consulting?

Coaching is not consulting – As coaches, we do not get all the facts, analyze the situation and tell you what to do. You will always know more about your life and what is right for you than your coach does. However, because the coach is trained as an objective listener, he/she is able to see things that you cannot and guide you to look at situations from new perspectives.

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How is coaching different from therapy?

Coaching is not psychiatry, psychology, or therapy – These disciplines come from the perspective of either diagnosing and treating a condition or helping people get through a particularly rough period. Coaching is for people who are well, but who are looking for greater success or enjoyment in some area of life. Coaches also provide a structure of accountability. For most of us, promises we make to ourselves may get displaced by other priorities and commitments. A coach is the person who holds you accountable for the promises you make to yourself.

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If I want to try individual coaching, what are the next steps?

I believe that the best way to figure out if we are a good fit is to dive right in.  So, we start with a 90-minute intake coaching session, which is designed for us to tackle your biggest current challenge.  Feel free to come with an agenda that seems way too ambitious for a mere 90-minute session.  Clients are often amazed at how much we can accomplish in such a short time.  In the process, we get to know each other and can determine if we both feel that we are a good fit for an ongoing coaching engagement. Assuming we both wish to move forward, we will discuss the frequency and duration of the coaching.  Typical coaching sessions are held for one hour. 

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How are the coaching engagements structured?

For leadership and business development coaching, I generally work with clients on six-month, renewable contracts. Clients may choose to be coached once, twice or four times per month, depending on time constraints and coaching objectives.

  • Once a month – I recommend a once per month coaching structure for lawyers who have a plan and know what they intend to do for their business development but who (like everyone) could use some support overcoming obstacles and ensuring that the plan comes to fruition.
  • Twice a month – Attorneys who are trying to design a strategy, sort out branding, messaging, or define a niche tend to be a good fit for bi-weekly coaching.  Also, those who want more frequent coaching, but have trouble making the time may settle on meeting bi-weekly.
  • Four times per month – Attorneys who have recently accepted a significant new role, such as becoming a partner, a managing partner, leading a practice group, or starting a new law firm have numerous challenges and opportunities to sort through and can benefit tremendously from more frequent coaching. Other good candidates for weekly coaching are those who are trying to create significant shifts in their outlook or results, such as a shy person who is trying to break out of his shell or a pushy person who is trying to moderate her approach.

Career and business strategy sometimes require a shorter duration, such as 3-4 months, or more intensive approach such as two half day sessions.  This will be customized to a clients particular needs.

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If my firm hires you, will our sessions be confidential?

The exact details of a coaching engagement will vary depending on the contract. I tell firms that for coaching to be effective there must be a relationship of trust between the coach and client.  Therefore, I strongly recommend 100% confidentiality.  The Excelleration, LLC law firm contract includes the following default language:

  • Unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, the coach will not discuss with the firm the content of the coaching sessions, the level of engagement demonstrated by the client, the client’s attendance, or any other aspect of the coaching relationship. 
  • All communication between the coach and the firm will be conducted via email and the client will be copied on all emails.
  • If a representative of the firm wants to meet with the client and coach together in order to provide feedback to the client, recommend topics for coaching, or for any other reason, this will count as one of the coaching sessions. 
  • Similarly, the firm can trust the coach to keep in strict confidence any proprietary information that is revealed during the course of the coaching engagement, unless ordered to reveal such information by a court of law. 

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If I hire you to coach lawyers at my firm, but you won't tell me anything about the sessions, how do I know they will be making good use of the time?

Assuming that the client shows up and engages with the coaching process, whatever they choose to discuss will almost inevitably have a substantial bearing on their work.  Sometimes I am hired to work with clients on business development, but the client wants to talk about how to manage a personal problem.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, that interpersonal problem will involve how they make choices, interact with people, manage their time and energy, all of which have substantial bearing on their effectiveness at work. By focusing on what the client cares about and what feels most urgent to him and her it allows the coaching to be more effective and far reaching than if we were simply following an agenda proscribed by others.  

Coaching can produce life-altering results.  However, if the client is participating in the coaching due to pressure (real or perceived) or if the client does not really have skin in the game, the coaching will be less effective. Depending on circumstances, I sometimes recommend that firms pay for part, but not all, of the coaching fees. This ensures that the clients who truly want the support and will make the best use of it are the ones who receive it.   

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What happens if you are working on business development with more than one lawyer in the same practice area? How do you deal with conflicts?

Please take a look at my conflicts policy.  

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What is the Return on Investment for Coaching?

It is very important to me that you, either as an individual or as a firm, see clear concrete result from your coaching investment.  See here for more information.

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To see what clients say about my coaching, see my testimonials.