For Corporations, Law Firms & Nonprofits

CEOs and corporate, nonprofit and law firm managers today are far more receptive to coaching than in years past. This is increasingly so for general counsel who see the benefits of coaching for themselves as well as for high-performing lawyers in their departments.

Human Resources departments in many organizations have rosters of coaches whom they contact to coach employees throughout their organization. Where these HR teams often struggle, however, is in finding the right coach for members of the legal department, who often prefer working with a coach who is also a lawyer. Through Catherine Nathan’s unique combination of experience in legal practice, executive search, and coaching, she has the credibility needed to successfully serve as a coach for the organization’s attorneys.

Catherine has worked with corporations, nonprofit organizations, and law firms throughout her career and is comfortable and experienced in helping to bring out the best in their legal teams.

Process for Engaging Catherine

Coaching engagements with an organization are embodied in a three-way agreement executed by the lawyer, the organization and Catherine. Engagements typically last from three to six months. Sessions may be as frequent as once a week, but are more often bi-weekly. Catherine provides periodic general feedback to the appropriate person within the organization, but does not breach the confidentiality provisions of the three-way agreement, which embody the confidentiality terms set forth by the International Coaching Federation

When an organization has taken the time and gone to the trouble of hiring an attorney, both it and the attorney want the attorney to succeed. Coaching an attorney with high potential can achieve that goal, and is much more cost-effective than repeatedly searching for and hiring attorneys for a role. In addition, coaching affirms the organization’s commitment to and often helps to further motivate the attorney.

Ways to Approach Working With Catherine

Catherine is contacted for corporate coaching in one of three ways: 

Management approach: The general counsel or HR professional approaches Catherine about serving as a coach for either the general counsel or a member of her team. Catherine will ask to do an introductory call with the lawyer to ensure that there is a good fit before proceeding.

Direct approach by lawyer: The lawyer to be coached contacts Catherine directly. If there is a fit, the lawyer will get the approval of his direct supervisor who will then involve the HR team. 

Referral: A law firm partner or lawyer in the company or organization recommends Catherine to the general counsel, who contacts Catherine directly. Catherine will have a preliminary call with the general counsel to understand the issue. The GC will then approach the lawyer in his/her department to test his/her receptivity to coaching. If the lawyer is receptive, Catherine will ask to do an introductory call with the lawyer to ensure that she and the lawyer are a fit and will be able to work well together.

Representative Corporate and Law Firm Coaching Engagements

Some ways that Catherine’s coaching has benefited organizations include: 

  • Catherine’s client has recently been promoted to the general counsel position. She gets along well with the lawyers in the department but has limited managerial experience. The CEO of the company has recently been hearing that there are problems with her management style. Because the CEO thinks so highly of her as a consigliere and member of his team, he wants to nip this issue in the bud. He contacts his VP of Human Resources about getting a coach for the GC. The HR executive speaks with Catherine and then invites the GC to do so, which leads to a six-month coaching engagement to develop the skills necessary for the GC to succeed as a manager.
  • A Virginia-based American general counsel of an Italian company hires an experienced attorney to serve as the lead west coast lawyer for the company. Shortly after the lawyer joins the company, the American GC identifies issues with the lawyer’s ability to relate to his Italian colleagues as well as to the west coast business team. Through a referral from outside counsel, the American GC speaks with Catherine outlining the various issues that have arisen. The GC is impressed by Catherine’s approach and recommends to the lawyer that he receive coaching; fortunately, the lawyer is receptive. Catherine and the lawyer meet during one of the lawyer’s visits to the east coast and agree to a coaching relationship.
  • An up-and-coming law firm senior associate is well-liked by clients for his tenacity and diligence. Firm management, however, views him as lacking in interpersonal skills, especially when he interacts with staff. As he is viewed as a high performer, the firm wants to engage a coach who understands both the law firm and corporate worlds to help him cultivate the necessary skills. Catherine offers the ideal combination of experience and judgment to work with the associate whom the firm hopes will become a partner.

To learn more about how attorney coaching can support both your organization and your valued legal employees, contact Catherine Nathan to schedule a consultation.