During my 40 years working in the legal profession, I have spoken and collaborated with lawyers in many different jobs and professional environments. Whether observing lawyers in private practice, government or companies, I have noticed one repetitive pattern.
Young lawyers rise up the ranks within their law firms, companies or government agencies based primarily on their success utilizing two skill sets, practicing law and bringing in clients. A certain subset of attorneys excel in both these areas.
Lawyers who rise up the ranks ultimately are given the opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills, either by heading committees or practice groups. Unfortunately, many discover that the skill set necessary to succeed in these leadership posts is very different from that required to be an excellent lawyer.
Almost all young lawyers do not learn leadership skills in law school. They are forced to pick up three skills as they grow, observing other leaders within their workplaces or reading books and articles which they are giving or identify on their own.
The great majority of lawyers asked to assume leadership positions do not yet possess the requisite leadership skills that would promote a smooth transition from practicing lawyer to leadership lawyer. With appropriate leadership coaching, these lawyers can fulfill their best leadership potential. It not only helps them become better leaders, but helps the law firm, company or government agency become a more effective organization.