Coaching Case Study – From “putting out fires” to a well-oiled machine

Frank Jones* is a smart and experienced Board Certified lawyer in a Texas metropolitan area. When Frank began his coaching experience, he had a highly stressful practice, and complained that he was “always putting out fires.” He had employees who disrupted workflow with frequent absences, tardiness and emotional discord. He misplaced papers and wasted a lot of time hunting for them. He dreaded certain phone calls because his disorganization made him feel unprepared. He feared sinking into a practice dominated by a sense of drudgery and darkness. The impact of an enlarging chasm between his management philosophy and that of a partner often distracted him from his legal work.

Frank’s first steps in coaching involved brainstorming and experimenting with strategies to obtain a block of uninterrupted time each day to concentrate on complex legal work. He also strived to put his focus on the most important and pressing matters. With the support and accountability mechanisms of coaching, he was able to develop more productive work patterns despite resistance and impediments from the other office members.

Frank validated the efficacy of coaching with hard numbers. He reported that his efficiency improved sufficiently for him to accomplish in 74 hours per month what previously took him 117 hours. Frank used some of his newfound time to generate more revenue, and some of it to get some exercise with a friend, further relieving his stress.

Relishing those initial accomplishments, Frank turned his attention to other issues, such as creating a less stressful office environment more in line with his vision, building his practice, enhancing the quality of his associates and staff, and moving his practice toward more financially and emotionally rewarding work.

Frank made the decision to leave his firm and set up a new office on his own. He continued his coaching goal of improving productivity and performance in his office. He used his coach as a resource, idea generator, sounding board and support system as he contemplated hiring decisions, employee management strategies, marketing strategies, technology upgrades and new systems development.

Today Frank doesn’t worry about losing documents or feeling unprepared for impromptu case discussions with clients or opposing counsel. He uses a computerized case management system that allows his assistant to scan every document that comes in and attach it to the client file. He can find any document he needs within seconds, and view it on his computer screen. He can work remotely, and has ways of taking advantage of previously wasted hours waiting at the courthouse. He has developed a firm website that continues to increase in traffic flow, and he has been able to verify its positive influence on new business development.

His office runs harmoniously, and he has highly competent and reliable assistance from lawyers and non-lawyers. He reports, “I am being the kind of guy I want to be these days.”

Frank was named as a Super Lawyer by Texas Monthly Magazine and has received a number of other professional accolades and prestigious positions. He is being invited to speak around the state, increasing the scope of his reputation and his referral potential.

His business has grown to the extent that he must now contemplate what to do with the overflow. He reports, “My practice is substantial and busy and going in the direction I want it to.” He says, “The quality of my work product is going up because I’m able to select cases where clients can afford to pay for the tools I need to do a good job. So I’m really enjoying my practice more.”

Frank tells those who will listen that hiring a coach was one of the best things he ever did for his practice.

* Name changed to protect his privacy.

Read more case studies:

Advancing an In-House Career
Becoming a More Effective Manager
MegaFirm Administrator
Regroupiing in a New City
A Guy’s Work/Life Balance