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IBA: Coaching To Help Meet Professional Goals

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By Mark Hershman, Hershman Associates

You’re an expert in the legal arena. You live and breathe assisting individuals in this litigious society … or so you thought. It doesn’t take long in your field to realize all those various law classes back in law school failed to cover the basics of managing a successful practice.

Time management is only the beginning, but it’s an essential beginning. Client development is another professional practice component that can make or break any law firm. Both are topics, among many others, that can be addressed by a professional coach.

Coaching is not a new concept. Mentors, networking groups and senior colleagues have long been offering sage advice to newcomers in the various legal fields. Within the last 10 years, however, coaching has evolved into a growing industry and risen to a new, higher level of professionalism and expertise. A credentialed coach is a trained professional who must pass a rigorous set of standards established by the International Coach Federation, the recognized authority in the industry.

Working with an established executive coach offers several benefits to professionals, like lawyers, who are faced with an abundant set of challenges. Providing services to clients, managing the firm’s daily operation, developing new business, staying abreast of changing regulations/laws and attempting to maintain a home life are roles lawyers regularly attempt to juggle. This can be daunting.

Of course, it can be done. Profitable firms abound, but that success is often the result of trial and error and a huge commitment of resources. The price can include deteriorating health, relationships and happiness. A professional coach helps the client get unstuck, turn around, break the cycle, manage the chaos, set priorities, identify goals and make changes. Often, new systems are suggested. Techniques are taught. Together with the client, strategies are discussed, developed, implemented and measured.

Professional executive coaching isn’t a feel good, quick fix for anxieties. It’s far more serious and firmly rooted in sound business administration, motivation, performance, training and organizational behavior concepts. A good coach combines many disciplines and understands the interdependent relationship of these diverse principles.

Fact-finding is always the beginning. Hearing the details of what’s working and what’s not is essential. Statistics aren’t enough. The coach wants to hear the underlying passions and problems. Honest, open discussion between coach and client work are essential.

Introspection, creative problem solving and communication can be intimidating topics to many professionals. Perhaps lawyers comfortable in the technical world are particularly ill-at-ease in this foreign arena. And, that is exactly why a professional executive coach can help!

Mark Hershman, MCC is an executive coach based in Indianapolis. Hershman possesses a broad-based business background along with strong assignments among many law firms. He is one of only three coaches in Indiana attaining the Master Certified Credential from the International Coach Federation.•

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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