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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. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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