Why Every Estate Planning Attorney Needs a “Coach” and Key Features Their Coaching Program Should Have!

By Kristina Schneider, Executive Assistant

Having spent the last 13 years working side-by-side estate planning attorneys throughout the country – – with various levels of experience and types of practices – – it is very clear to me that just about every single estate planning attorney that is running his or her own practice needs coaching.  The truth is, just about any business owner could benefit from some kind of coaching.

I went to one of the top 50 universities in the U.S. and I got my degree in Business Administration.  None of the courses that I took through college would have prepared me for the real life, day-to-day requirements of running a business of my own.  I had book knowledge of business and marketing concepts and that’s helpful, but when it actually comes to how to apply these to your business, how to manage people, how to drive business to your specific business, those are all things that you simply don’t learn in school.

There are some training programs out there that can help teach this stuff, as well, but the best way to get the most out of any teaching that you can possibly get is through coaching individually focused on you and tailored to you and your needs.  Coaching is going to bring a new, higher level of actual application of what you know or learn.

Think about it, have you ever attended a training program and learned a lot, but still have those books on the shelf and very little was even implemented?  It happens to the best of us.  You get busy in the daily demands of running your business.

The major benefits to personal coaching include:

  • Accountability – By far and large, this is the main benefit of having a coach.  When not held accountable to someone, it’s easy to not do the things you’re supposed to or intend to.  Not everybody can be self-disciplined enough to consistently avoid being caught up doing the things they shouldn’t and on task to do the things they should.
  • Outsider Perspective – When you’re in the trenches every day, it can be difficult to see the big picture and catch the major issues going on in your firm.  A coach will be able to look at all aspects of your practice and determine what may be going on.
  • Direct Guidance – As mentioned before, it’s one thing to be taught concepts and ways of doing things, but it’s not always easy to know how it applies to your particular circumstances, or where to start.
  • Conflict Resolution – When you run your own practice, there are bound to be conflicts that arise.  As you begin to build your team of support around you (which is hopefully something that you will begin to do, if you haven’t already), it can be difficult to manage the conflicts that arise.  And, frankly, it’s not always something that you should have to get involved in, if possible.  A coach can help you deal with your staff and any conflicts that come up and show you both how to work through them.

Now that you know the reasons why you should consider getting coaching, the next, and probably more difficult, task is figuring out what kind of coach to get and how to sift through the coaching options out there.

In my opinion, there are some very distinct differences between the coaching programs available.  In particular, I believe you need to consider these three criteria when comparing coaching programs:

EXPERIENCE

Experience means something.  If you have a coach that is going to guide you on how to successfully run your estate planning practice, it would be comforting to know that he or she has experience in successfully running their own estate planning practice (or has worked closely with others who have).

QUESTIONS TO ASK OF A COACH:

  • Do they have their own successful law practice?
  • If they no longer have an active practice, when and why did they leave it if was so successful?
  • How many associate attorneys and/or support staff did they have?
  • Did they operate out of their own office or have multiple satellite offices?
  • What kind of marketing strategies did they have to get new clients?
  • KEY: Why would what worked for them then, work for someone now?

CREDIBILITY

A lot of the experience questions will do enough to help build up some credibility, but a common response or comment that I often hear is, “Just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it will work for me and my practice. I’m different than you.”  A simple way to squash this issue is by asking the coach for references of successful attorneys that are willing to vouch for what this coach did for their business.

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE ATTORNEY REFERENCE:

  • What kind of practice did you start with when you started working with this coach?
  • What kind of practice do you have now?
  • How long did it take you to ramp up to where you are?
  • What did you find most helpful about this coach and what they have to offer?
  • Anything that you don’t like or that I should be wary of?

INTEGRITY

Last, but certainly not least, you need to find a coach that has integrity and is willing to allow you to make the right decision when the time comes.  Not all coaches and their coaching works for everyone and it can be difficult to get locked into long-term contracts or expensive investments with something that’s just not right for you.

QUESTIONS TO ASK:

  • Will they offer a free consultation or discovery session to discuss what you need and how they can help?
  • What kind of obligations do they require of you?
  • If they have long-term contracts, what kind of guarantees or opt-outs do they offer if things don’t work out or their coaching is not meeting the expectations or results promised?
  • As you open up and share about your own practice (what’s working and what’s not), what kind of confidentiality will they maintain to not share this with others they coach?

It might seem like just “one more thing to do in your pile of things to do” in order to find the right coaching program and coach for you, but once you do find the right coach to help you and your practice, the reward and benefits far outweigh the time and due diligence involved.

If you have any experience with any of the available Estate Planning Coaching Programs out there, we welcome their feedback below in our comments section!

INVITATION TO SET UP A FREE CALL WITH ME

If you would like more information about the coaching services we have available at The Ultimate Estate Planner, we are extending to you a free 30-minute consultation to chat about what areas of your practice present the biggest challenges or concerns and I will see what we can do to help you.  To set up a call with me, click here.  You can also contact our office at 1-866-754-6477 to set up a free 30-minute consultation with me.


SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH YOUR ASSISTANT

Pssssst… are you an advisor reading this article?  If so, that’s fine.  While this article is written for staff members, many professionals would benefit from it as well.  But be sure to pass along this article to your assistant.  Click here to forward this article over to your assistant so that he or she can read it and benefit from it, too.  Also, you may wish to encourage your assistant to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter directly so that they can get these helpful tips and articles each month, too.  To sign up your assistant to receive our e-mails, click here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristina Schneider is the current Executive Director of The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc.  She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University in 2004 and was hired right out of college to work for the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, coordinating and facilitating Philip Kavesh’s “Missing Link” Boot Camps while also providing administrative support to Mr. Kavesh as his Executive Assistant for over seven years.  Through her direct hands-on experience in Mr. Kavesh’s law firm, Kristina has been able to assist numerous estate planning professionals through The Ultimate Estate Planner and, equally as important, many of their staff members, in the successful implementation of Ultimate Estate Planner’s products and systems. You can reach Kristina at (424) 247-9495 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Leave a Comment