I’ve had a series of posts (here, here and here) on the issue of how law schools have failed to prepare their graduates for the real world of practicing law. How sad. But I don’t see very many institutions of “higher” learning changing how they prepare lawyers for the practice of law any time soon. So what is the solution? Coaching!

Ed Poll of Lawbiz Blog has an article in this month’s Law Practice Today  entitled “Coaches Teach What Law Schools Don’t” which is right on point. I wanted to share a couple of Ed’s comments:

“Law school does not teach lawyers how to effectively interact with clients; law school does not teach lawyers how to efficiently manage their practices; law school does not teach lawyers how to become good rainmakers or make money. CLE programs generally do not offer or approve programs in these skills. Lawyers learn them, if at all, from the ‘School of Hard Knocks.’”

Coaches can help overcome those shortcomings, and law schools, as I have said before, should be embarrassed for not having done so. Ed concludes by recognizing that coaches don’t have all the answers:

“…Rather, it is that they provide an on-going sounding board for your problems, questions, and ideas. Coaching provides instant support and feedback through regular meetings that often can be conducted by phone. I believe you must look at coaching through the eyes of "investment" … investment in yourself. You should engage a coach from the point you decide you want to be successful.”

Well said. If you want to read about other things you should look for in a coach, take a look at some advice from one of my earlier posts by ….

In a post in May 2006 which I called “Do You Have A Coach?” I included some pointers on what a good coach can do to help:

  • Help provide focus and direction (and redirection)
  • Help to plan an approach or strategy
  • Reinforce and bolster your marketing ideas
  • Be a source of new ideas or approaches
  • Keep you on track and motivated
  • Help sell your ideas to management

 Most importantly, 

  • Can be a friendly nag (or PITA – not yours truly, of course)
  • HA! I always tell my lawyers I’m the nicest nag they’ll ever know. But recently I’ve changed my view…I like to refer to myself as “Instigator of Things” cause I also do a lot of “internal client relations”.

  • I like where you’re going with this – and want to add that a good coach can help you clarify what you want and make sure you get it.

  • I do career coaching and your comments are right on. I’ve had several lawyers as clients who were just miserable in their careers for many of the reasons you mentioned. We worked on what they really needed from their work to be happy, as well as leadership issues and keeping them accountable as they took action.

  • You are preaching to the choir. The key is helping the lawyer/client understand where she wants to go both personally and professionally, not just today but 5, 10, 15 years down the road. Without a clearly defined road map into the future and your own “personal sherpa,” you could get lost and dispirited.