Debra L. Bruce
Debra Bruce is President of Lawyer-Coach LLC. She practiced law for 18 years in several firms ranging in size from international mega-firm Baker Botts, to medium-size and even her own entrepreneurial firm with an associate, a paralegal and an administrative assistant. Debra focused on securities law and mergers and acquisitions, but also consulted to and assisted trial attorneys in a number of cases.
Debra draws on her extensive legal experience, as well as a degree in Psychology and well over 500 hours in training as a professional coach, to help lawyers improve their management skills, increase productivity and bring in more business. She also helps burned-out lawyers redesign their practices for greater fulfillment or transition to a new career.
She received her initial coaching training in 2000 from The Coaches Training Institute, one of the world’s leading coach training organizations, and the first accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Debra is credentialed as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the ICF. She is also a graduate of the Co-Active Leadership Program and trained in DiSC® Behavior Style assessments, the CPI 260 Leadership assessment, the EQ-i 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment, and other productivity and communication related assessments. Debra received her J.D. (with honors) from the University of Texas in 1979, where she was a member of the Texas Law Review and Order of the Coif. She also received an award for achieving the highest grades in her freshlaw class. She received a degree in Psychology (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of Houston in 1975.
Debra was appointed to the Law Practice Management Committee of the State Bar of Texas from 2004-2010 and served as Vice Chair. In 2015 she was reappointed to that Committee for a three-year term. She currently serves on the Law Practice magazine Editorial Board of the ABA Law Practice Division, as well as other committees of the Division. She has also served as Chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the Houston Bar Association and as Co-Chair of the HBA Gender Fairness Committee.
A prolific writer, Debra has numerous published articles on law practice management topics in the ABA’s Law Practice magazine, Texas Bar Journal, Connecticut Lawyer, The Colorado Lawyer, National Magazine’s Addendum (Canadian Bar Association) and many other publications online and in print. She is a contributing author to How to Capture and Keep Clients, 2nd Edition: Marketing Strategies for Lawyers published by the ABA, as well as Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law published by the ABA.
Debra has individually coached well over 500 attorneys. She is a frequent presenter to bar associations, law schools, law firms and corporate and governmental legal departments across the country. In addition to providing business and leadership coaching, Debra conducts seminars and retreats customized for the needs of her clients on topics including leadership, time management, communication skills, team-building and team effectiveness, client relations, talent retention, business development and ethical use of social media for lawyers. Although she specializes in coaching lawyers, she has also worked with accounting professionals and business executives, and is a member of the elite cadre of coaches for NASA’s Johnson Space Center. She is a past leader of the Houston chapter of the International Coach Federation.
Debra stepped away from the practice of law in 1998 after a powerful coaching question prompted her to pursue a long-abandoned dream of living in France for a year. She overcame a number of predictable obstacles that made that goal seem impossible: the mortgage on her dream house, a child custody agreement, two big dogs and a cat, clients who couldn’t postpone their legal needs for a year, etc. A life-changing year on the French Riviera brought humorous adventures and new insights that Debra recounted in a 10-article series for the Orlando Sentinel. She came back rejuvenated and filled with a desire to encourage others in achieving their dreams and goals. Debra began presenting workshops and working with participants individually, et voilà, her coaching career was born!