How can a lawyer find a good coach? You’re a lawyer (or any professional), and you have decided you want a coach. But, you’re wondering how to find a good one. It’s tough. Coaching is an unregulated field. Anyone can hang out their shingle and call themselves a coach. Lots of coaches even have a veritable alphabet soup behind their names. How can a lawyer, or anyone for that matter, in search of a coach find a good one?
First step: Ask for Recommendations
Recommendations from friends or colleagues.
If you know someone who has a coach that they recommend, that may be a good place to start. Especially, if your friend sought coaching to deal with issues similar to yours. But, you may care about things like training, experience, fit, certifications, approach, or philosophy that your friend didn’t care about, so this is only your first step.
Recommendations from your employer.
Many firms have contracts with coaching companies or maintain a list of coaches that they recommend. This may be a good place to begin. Ask your HR professional for the background information about the coaches on their list, and if you can, speak to someone in the firm who has worked with the coach to see what they thought about the experience. If the firm is paying for the coach, you should inquire about the confidentiality of what is discussed with the coach. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) recommends that its members use a contract that preserves the confidentiality of the coaching process. Does the firm recommended coach use a contract of that nature? Be absolutely clear on what the coach will and will not share with the firm. What topics the coach can coach you on? For example, is the coach only concerned with coaching you on business development or on helping you find your next job?
Second Step: Internet Research
If you don’t know anyone who has a recommendation for a coach this may be your first step.
Use a search engine to find a coach who coaches around the topics of interest to you or a coach who specializes in lawyers, if you are interested in career coaching. For example, you might want to find a coach who specializes in attorneys with ADHD or executive function challenges, lawyer entrepreneurs, or female lawyers. Once you find a coach who fits your interest, check out their website. Does it look professional? What is the coach’s background? Will it help the coach to understand where you are coming from? Is the coach a lawyer (if that is important to you)? This is my opportunity for a shameless plug for my background. Take a look. Another thing to consider is the coach’s training. Did they get training from a school that is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF)? Some coaching schools are self-accrediting. They may be excellent, but wouldn’t you prefer a coach trained by a school accredited by an independent professional organization?
Does the coach hold a credential from ICF? ICF membership shows that the coach has completed at least 60 hours of training. Depending on the level of certification, coaches with an ICF credential have met specified training requirements, been mentored by an experienced coach, passed a coach knowledge exam, met minimum coaching experience requirements and have been observed by independent assessors to coach with a high level of coaching skill. Credentialed ICF members are also subject to continuing education requirements. Would you hire a lawyer to represent you who hadn’t gone to law school or passed the bar exam? Probably not. Same thing with a coach: why would you hire a coach who isn’t on track to obtain an ICF credential? If the coach you are interested in, does not list an ICF credential on their website, you can check the ICF directory to determine if they are members or what level of credential they hold. If the coach is seeking a credential but has not yet met all the requirements, they should disclose that to you.
As I mentioned, ICF provides a directory of all of its members which lists their credentials as well as provides information about their coaching practice. Why do you care about whether someone is an ICF member? All ICF coaches have professional training and commit to follow the ICF Ethics Code which includes a duty of confidentiality. Would you consult a lawyer who wasn’t a member of the Bar?
Other Professional Groups.
There are other professional groups that certify coaches. It beyond the scope of this posting to discuss them. The point is to make sure the certifying group is independent, has rigorous standards and an ethics code. For instance, I hold a CPAC (certified professional ADHD coach) credential from the Professional Association of ADHD Coaches (PAAC) that indicates that, in addition to my general PCC certification from ICF, I hold a certification in coaching adults with ADHD. There are many other specializations and certifications available for coaches, and many of them provide directories of coaches that they have trained.
Most importantly, you should feel comfortable with the coach. Schedule a meeting over Zoom, phone or in person with the coach. Most coaches are happy to meet with prospective clients for a short (15-30 minute) session at no charge. Do you feel heard and safe with the coach? Does the coach listen to you? Are you comfortable the coach’s approach? How much experience does the coach have? Can you afford the coach? If you don’t feel comfortable with the coach, the wonderful chemistry between coach and client that changes lives won’t happen.