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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.