Coaching in-house lawyers as compared to other forms of assisting them

I have modified these useful distinctions from an article in OD Practitioner 2006, Vol. 38, No. 3 at 13, and adapted them to law departments. Managers of lawyers should bear the differences in mind.

• Training: Someone with subject matter expertise and authority shows another person or group how to achieve success in a task. CLE courses train in-house counsel.
• Performance management: A boss influences or requires improved behavior from a subordinate. The general counsel sets objectives for a lawyer, such as to speak up more during client meetings.
• Mentoring: A seasoned individual shares advice and insight about the “way things work here” as they guide someone less experienced towards desired outcomes. The Deputy General Counsel meets periodically and informally to guide a promising newcomer.
• Coaching: A partnership between a client and a coach accomplished through regular phone calls or visits that are typically designed to help the client acquire more self-understanding, life fulfillment, direction and success. The HR department assigns a coach to help a lawyer who is passive-aggressive come to terms with that style and reduce its deleterious consequences.
• Organization development (OD): Individual work with a client-leader as part of a dynamic values-based approach to system change in organizations. As part of a department-wide culture change, an OD expert assists the general counsel to contribute to the process.

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