Coaching For Solicitors and Law Firms – Continuing Competence
The legal profession has for some time been moving away from pure legal knowledge training and looking at wider business and leadership skills.
Continuing competence recognised that each individual solicitor will have different training needs based on where they are in their career, their role, and the work they do. The SRA includes the following learning and development areas:
- A – Ethics, professionalism and judgment
- B – Technical legal practice
- C – Working with other people
- D – Managing themselves and their own work
The SRA’s Competence Statement states they also need to:
- Take responsibility for their personal learning and development
- Reflect on and learn from their practice and learn from other people
- Accurately evaluate their strengths and limitations in relation to the demands of their work
- Maintain an adequate and up-to-date understanding of relevant law, policy and practice
- Adapt their practice to address developments in the delivery of legal services
Training vs Coaching for the SRA Competencies
Training – skills knowledge limitations
We all know training. Hugely beneficial. The concern is, personal development training doesn’t always tackle individual worries or the challenges someone has in implementing it.
When they leave and try to implement the skills for the first time, and it does not work, they do not know what to do. They go back to their old habits. Many law firms use coaching to encourage the implementation of training over the long term.
Coaching – skill development and implementation
The SRA recommendation includes an analysis of strengths and limitations.
Coaching sessions are used to fully explore, in a confidential setting, what a fee earner has identified as their gaps and concerns. Concerns they may not share with their head of department. A bespoke development programme follows, allowing the fee earner to focus on key learning, which they will be motivated to undertake. Including potential obstacles to implementation.
A series of coaching sessions combine knowledge, with the confidence to act, across key leadership and fee-earning areas, including managing people, balancing competing demands, efficiency, self-doubt, and improving billing.
A fixed coaching review with me, four months later, ensures action is still being proactively taken. Whilst the end of my coaching programmes look ahead to see what potential obstacles might get in the way, new things can happen, and time passes quickly!
You can find a short case study on the usefulness of coaching here.
Coaching – when change is not happening fast enough
Whilst a firm may have a firm idea as to what an individual needs to work on. Sometimes an individual does not seem to be taking the need for change on board. Part of that arises due to managers using old performance management tools (see in-house training here and upcoming training events here), or they need coaching to build confidence to have those conversations. However, the final part is that the individual, for whatever reason, is struggling to make the change, or resisting the change.
A structured coaching plan drives decisions being made by the fee-earner, following a real understanding of what the benefits are (to them and the firm) to make the change, and work on what has been getting in the way of implementing it.
Coaching allows law firms to retain knowledge and talent where it might otherwise be lost.
Whatever the reason, causing someone to struggle with a skill, or implementation of a skill, a series of coaching sessions gets to the core issues quickly and provides personalised tools and techniques to make the change. Allowing law firms to spend less time managing any situation, retaining talent, and developing skills for the benefit of the fee-earner, the law firm, and the clients they serve.
Simona is a professional coach, mentor, speaker, with a legal background as a solicitor and partner of 20 years.
She takes her professional coach and law firm expertise, into other firms, to drive profitability, communication and performance, to the next level.
Motivated individuals work with Simona on mindset and strategy to become more successful as a partner or fee earner, whilst leading a more balanced life.
For more information about coaching for you, or in your firm to grow profitability, develop leaders, or upgrade people management skills, please email email@example.com or contact her here.
For more information on Continuing Competence itself, take a look at the SRA toolkit here.