Business Development Coaching for Lawyers is the Best Way to Learn New Skills

By   Category Business Development, Coaching, Training

Takeaway: More than ever, law firms need to teach their lawyers to be more effective business developers. While training has its place, it is the least effective method of teaching new skills. In fact, lawyers forget up to 91% of what they learn in training classes. Coaching, over several months, is the most effective method of helping them grow their originations.

Everyone Needs to Generate Business

The legal marketplace has permanently changed. Intense competition is here to stay. And, the balance of power has swung to clients who are continually demanding more service at lower rates.

Today, the bar is much higher for all lawyers. Law firms expect their partners and senior associates to generate new work. This puts pressure on the firm to come up with the most effective ways of helping their lawyers become better business developers.

Training Alone Will Not Build the Necessary Skills

Many law firms believe that they can solve this problem by bringing in sales trainers for occasional sessions, often at an annual retreat, that generate enthusiasm, raise awareness, and teach client development skills. Being good students, the lawyers quickly realize the value of what they are hearing. They leave the session eager to apply their new knowledge.

The challenge with the training-only approach is that within one month most lawyers have forgotten nearly everything they learned.

Studies show that the one-month “decay rate” for the knowledge gained in an isolated training program ranges from 67% to 91%. Obviously, much of the time and money that law firms are investing in one-off business development training programs is going to waste.

There has to be a better way. And there is — coaching.

Why Coaching Is More Effective than Training for Long Term Learning

What causes this remarkable loss of knowledge after just thirty days? It is due to the difference between how we acquire knowledge and how we make enduring changes in our behaviors – transforming knowledge into understanding and sustained action. Without reinforcement, lawyers quickly slip into old behaviors once they return to their established work situations.

This is where a business development coach with experience in the legal industry can make a difference – by helping lawyers apply their new knowledge in real situations over an extended period of time.

Using a wide range of tools and techniques, customized for each client, a coach reinforces what has been learned, helps to interpret and adapt this knowledge to real situations, and provides encouragement, feedback, and course-correction. Practice can indeed make perfect – when guided by a skilled business development coach.

Research shows that six months is needed for a lawyer to form new, more productive business development behaviors. To function at a top level, lawyers must practice their skills consistently over time under the expert guidance of a coach. The higher an individual progresses into the elite levels of a fields, the more he or she can benefit from coaching.

The Benefits of Coaching — 800% Rate of Return (ROI)

When evaluating coaching programs, all firms want to know if will it be worth their investment. While the ROI varies from firm-to-firm and vendor-to-vendor, we have found that all programs we deliver, the ROI averages 800%.

In one example, we coached 26 partners, one-on-one, for nine months. The firm measured the program results against their prior year’s partner performances and showed:

  • An average increase of over 55% in originating income per partner — almost three times greater than the partners who received no coaching.
  • An overall dollar increase for the group exceeding $5,000,000.
  • A 20-to-1 return on the firm’s investment.

While these are exceptional results, it is easy to see why these programs easily pay for themselves — securing one decent sized matter pays for the entire program.

So, when it comes time to teach your lawyers to be better business developers, make sure ongoing is support is part of the program.

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