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A Strategy For Growing Your Practice: The Science

I have written and spoken often about the importance of business development planning for lawyers and law firms. Many law firms have taken their cue from other industries and have created firm-wide business development plans.  Many of those firms have taken the next step and required BD plans from each of their fee earning professionals.

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SC&C’s Kathryn Szymczyk Presents IPIC Webinar: Are You Ready For “The Amazon Effect”?

SC&C’s Kathryn Szymczyk will be hosting a webinar for the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC) on the mindset and skills lawyers need to thrive in today’s legal marketplace.  The session will be moderated by Elizabeth Dipchand of Dipchand LLP. The session will start with some background on “The Amazon Effect” and how it is influencing the legal marketplace.

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Networking Emergency Tool Kit

Everything you need to make the most of conference season.

Conference season is getting underway and many of us are preparing to make the most of the opportunity to meet face to face with our clients and potential clients.  We can be the best lawyer in the world but if we don’t take advantage of the chance to foster relationships, we may find our dream clients heading to the competition. In this blog post, we offer some tools and suggestions for raising your networking game.

Conversation Starters:

Many of my clients – from the most junior to the most senior – ask me if there are a list of questions to kick-start conversations at conferences or meetings.  For those of you who like the idea of having a list to refer to, I offer the following (for those of you who don’t, scroll down for more tips below!):

  • “What do you think of the conference this year?”
  • “How long have you worked for your Firm/company?”
  • “How large is your department?”
  • “What’s the scope of your role within the company?”
  • “I understand you recently joined the Firm from x Firm.  How is the transition going?”
  • “How are the recent changes in law/regulations affecting your business?”
  • “What issues come up for you most in x jurisdiction/country/area of law?”
  • “Have you always worked with healthcare companies or have you worked in other industries?”

What do all of these questions have in common? They are all “open-ended questions” which commonly start with “what” and “how” (try to avoid “why” because it can make people feel defensive). These type of questions cannot be answered by yes or no and, therefore, keep the conversation going.

In addition to having a few good conversation starters in your back pocket, it is just as important to show up with the right mindset in order to be a networker who sees results.  I offer the following tips in that regard:

    1. Show Up Ready to Connect: No one likes talking to the person who is scanning the room or clearly thinking about something else.  In order to show up ready to connect with others, we must first quiet our own minds.  One effective way of doing so is to use breathing techniques that help us attune to the present and the person across from us as opposed to our own thoughts.  I encourage you to try the 4-7-8 breath exercise (outlined at the bottom of this post) before heading out for the day or before an important meeting.
    2. Find What You Like and How You Are Alike:  People like people who like them and people like people who are like them.  If your first comment can be a genuine compliment on something you appreciate about the person (their company/firm, their role, a speech they gave), do so.  If you can then focus on some insight, passion, obstacle or opportunity you have in common, you will be surprised how quickly you can foster conversation and connection.  Of course, in order to be successful, this must be done genuinely and sincerely and with a willingness to share our own thoughts and opinions (otherwise it may feel like an interrogation!).
    3. Preparation Will Set You Free:  Make sure you have more to talk about then the weather or your trip to the conference.  Any research or thought you can invest in identifying topics/stories/experiences that may be of interest to the attendees, the more confident and at ease you will feel with starting conversations.  For example, I always make sure I read the first few pages of the Economist before I go to an international conference so I at least know the headlines of what is going on in several countries.  It is enough to start a conversation and it is very endearing to people when you know something about their country.  Bonus points if you know a case, development of the law or new product/service relevant to their country or company and of interest to you and your practice.
    4. Show Up Curious and Ready to Listen:  You can have all the tips and conversation starters in the world but if you are not genuinely curious and focused on the people you are speaking with, you can completely fail to make a connection.  These tips on active listening can make all the difference:
      • Pause: Give people room to respond and talk about themselves.  You are not the only person responsible for the conversation.  Silence is the most effective listening skill!
      • Focus:  Put your attention over there on the prospect – not on what you want to say about yourself or the work that is sitting on your desk back at the office (the breathing exercises above will help you with that).  Challenge yourself to find something you have in common (see #2 above).
      • Encourage:  Use verbal and physical cues to add energy to the conversation and show you are interested.
      • Reflect back: Repeat what the other person says in their words so you both can confirm for your self AND show them you understand what they are saying.
      • Clarify: If you don’t understand something, have the confidence to say so.  You don’t need to know all the answers and the person will appreciate the opportunity to expand on their thoughts. People love to speak about themselves.  Take advantage of it.
    5. Know What You Want and Why You Should Get It:  To turn this from an exercise in meeting friends into a successful business development tool, we must take the time to consider what information, connections, reputation, and opportunities we are trying to foster at this event.  In other words, we need a focused and intentional strategy for success. You can see our prior blog post on why creating a strategy is important here and how to create one on the fly here.  Your strategy should include knowing the 3 things that make you the best person to get the clients and work that you want – your unique selling proposition (USP), if you will.  If it isn’t top of mind then how can you convey it?  And if you want to convey it, it is worthwhile preparing some stories, examples, and anecdotes ahead of time.  You will be surprised at how easy they come up in conversation once you have done this.

    Showing up ready to connect with curiosity and open-ended questions can take time and practice.  It also requires us to show some vulnerability.  As lawyers, we are trained to show up with solutions and to not ask any questions we don’t know the answers to.  Workshops and coaching help my clients with this mindset shift. With the right tools, support and practice, you too can be a master networker.  Happy networking!

    How can SC&C help? If you or your team would like help becoming master networkers contact us at kathryn@sccignites.com to find out about our experiential workshops, Firm retreats and one-on-one coaching programs.  We are offering free 30-minute sample coaching sessions to the first 20 people to respond.  Email us with “Sample Coaching Session” in the subject line.

    P.S. The 4-7-8 Breath Exercise mentioned above goes like this.  Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward:

    • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
    • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
    • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
    • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
    • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

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Innovation from Within: Why law firms need to engage Millennials and other right-brained thinkers to thrive.



It’s clear. The mounting pressures facing the legal services sector are not part of a cycle – they are here to stay. Simple tweaks are no longer going to cut it. We need to face the facts. But, are we equipped to do so? Do we have the right mindset, perspective and training?  Law firms are struggling to adapt while remaining profitable.  Statistics show that the majority are simply increasing fees, increasing billable hour expectations and cutting staff.  These tactics are not only ultimately unsuccessful, they result in an atmosphere of fight, flight, and freeze – exactly the opposite of what has led the most successful companies to thrive in today’s economy.  However, recent conversations, articles, and books have shown me that a few of the more intrepid among us have dared to think outside the box and are beginning to reap the rewards.  How can firms set themselves up to innovate from the inside instead of being left by the wayside?

Some of you may have seen a transcript of a lecture delivered by Dana Robinson (Founding Partner of TechLaw LLC and adjunct professor at the University of San Diego) circulating on LinkedIn here. Dana congratulates the Millennials in his first year IP law class, for having the creativity and innovation that will attract today’s most attractive clients.  He states:

“Left-brained law firms doing work for left-brained businesses are on the way out.  As right-brained businesses take over, they require creative attorneys who think outside the box.  The law firms of the future are like the client they will serve: creative, flexible, fun.”

Creative. Flexible. Fun. When is the last time you heard those three words used to describe a traditional law firm?  However, based on what I have heard from in-house counsel around the world and based on the positive results I have seen enjoyed by some of the most creative and innovative in the profession, I think he has hit the nail on the head.

What does fun have to do with it?

Let’s tackle the “fun” part first.  Traditionally, lawyers have equated being professional with being formal and holding our clients at arm’s length.  Many of us are very cynical about expressing emotions, especially those that reveal any vulnerability.  In the extreme, this has led to attitudes of condescension and pretension, especially among the older generation of lawyers.  These are the two characteristics I have heard most in-house counsel reject outright when choosing a trusted advisor today.

Many of us have discovered that forming some type of personal connection with contacts and clients does seem to translate into winning work.  The reason for that is very simple, and yet so few in the legal profession seem curious about how to hone and leverage this as a professional skill and tool.  Human beings, no matter what we like to think, make decisions based on emotions.  We also remember and are drawn to people and ideas that have a positive emotion attached to them.  Furthermore, feelings of familiarity – when combined with positive emotions – foster feelings of trust.

Need any more reasons to work on your “soft” skills?  Given the abundance of choice, the ability to make a genuine personal connection with our clients and contacts is an essential professional skill for lawyers today.

When is the last time you had fun with your clients or potential clients?

Being creative in the service industry means co-creating.

We have all heard the elusive phrase “trusted advisor” when we talk about what clients want in a lawyer.  But what does that mean?  

As noted above, the “trust” element often comes through familiarity and shared positive emotions.  

Being an “advisor” implies an expertise in the area of interest.  Many lawyers make the mistake of thinking that they only need to be an expert in the law.  However, busy in-house counsel with tight budgets and a multitude of responsibilities want advice that is delivered in the context of their business reality.  This requires lawyers to have two woefully underutilized skills: active listening and deep curiosity.   Clients hold the key to our relevance these days.  Without acquiring the mindset and skills to respond to this reality, lawyers and their law firms will be left behind.  

When is the last time you truly felt you were co-creating with your client?

If you don’t bend, you might break (or at least be left behind).

In Mitch Kowalski’s attention-grabbing book, The Great Legal Reformation, (an absolute must read for anyone looking to stay ahead in the legal services industry) he begins by telling the story of four University of Toronto computer science students who were accepted into a collaboration with IBM to use its artificial intelligence (AI) program. Although none of them had a legal background, they created ROSS – one of the top breakthrough technologies in the legal profession to date.  We would all do well to consider the question Mr. Kowalski poses: “How was it that a small group of very young Millennials so quickly grasped the potential of AI in legal services and acted upon it, yet an industry filled with thousands of mature, well-educated lawyers, did not?”.

That antiquated formality and hierarchical condescension, favoured by so many lawyers in large law firms (and informing the business and compensation models used) dampens creativity and innovation within the firm.  Those Millennials that were so creative in law school, learn soon enough to abandon such an approach.  Billable targets keep them tied to their desks with little time for co-creating and innovating with their clients.  No one is happy.  

When was the last time your firm invested in a lawyer’s radical new idea firmly based on feedback from clients?

So what can you do to stay ahead of the game?

Leaving aside necessary changes to business models and compensation structures, below we offer a few ideas of what law firms can do to create an atmosphere where creativity and innovation thrive.  

  • Provide (non-technical) Professional Skills Training:  Our clients hold the key to our relevance.  We need to be able to connect with them in a meaningful way in order to respond creatively and innovatively to their needs. Unfortunately, these professional skills, and how to efficiently apply them, have not traditionally been part of our legal training.  We need to catch up with the rest of the marketplace.  Training and practice using professional skills such as curiosity, open-ended questions, and active listening will build emotional intelligence and right-brained thinking among lawyers.  Read about SC&C’s workshops here.
  • Provide Support to Your Team:  Many lawyers feel overwhelmed with the fact that it is no longer enough to be a technical expert. This discomfort makes them resistant to taking on new habits and new perspectives. Don’t leave your star technical players behind. Many firms are making one-on-one coaching available to individual lawyers to help them identify and pursue who they need to be and what they need do in order to meet today’s challenges.  Coaching also helps those that are already thinking creatively and innovatively to maximize their potential and follow through on new ideas.  Read about SC&C’s coaching here.
  • Engage Millennials:  Instead of bemoaning what this generation of lawyers is not bringing to the table, firms can benefit from tapping into what Millenials do offer.  Consider providing workshops and forums for Millennials in order to engage them and access their natural aptitudes for thinking outside the box. Contact us to hear about our Millennial Programs.  Read our case study here.
  • Foster Collaboration:  Working as part of a team and sharing ideas can accelerate creativity and innovation.  Consider bringing cohorts of lawyers together to brainstorm clients needs and gaps in the market.  A trained facilitator or group coach can create the right environment to spark participation and help turn ideas into calls to action.  
  • Create Leaders That Foster Innovation: In order for creativity and innovation to thrive, leaders of the firm must learn the skills to create the necessary environment for engagement.  Many CEOs and management teams in the corporate world are acquiring coaching skills that have been shown to help change the perspectives and habits of their entire team. Read about SC&C’s “Train the Trainers” courses here.


About SC&C: Our Team of coaches, facilitators, and trainers work with lawyers and firms to build their capacity to bring in bigger and better business, leading to a more profitable and satisfying practice. Based in Canada, with ties around the world, we can help you where you are to build the international clientele that you want. Contact us at info@sccignites.com.

SC&C | Igniting Your Practice: A New Website and an Ignited Mission

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new website at www.sccignites.com. It bears our new logo and our new mission statement: Igniting Your Practice.

We continue to help lawyers and law firms grow their capacity to build lucrative and satisfying practices.  More than ever we are focusing on igniting enthusiasm in law firms by connecting lawyers with a new source of confidence so that they get results in today’s competitive legal market.  Come check us out and learn more about our:

1. ONE-ON-ONE COACHING:  our business development (BD) and leadership coaching enhances your capability to develop new business, grow your practice and build strong, lucrative relationships.   Get in touch today for your free 30 minute sample session with coach and former lawyer Kathryn Szymczyk and have your best year ever.

2.  BD CONSULTING: we work with managing partners, management committees and BD departments to identify programs and support that will help raise lawyers’ BD game.   Tap into our expertise in training the adult brain and our knowledge of what has worked for firms and lawyers around the world and launch a program that will change the mindset at your firm.

3.  TRAIN THE TRAINERS: we help you acquire the coaching and leadership skills you need to support your individual lawyers and lead your team to greater BD success.  Become a catalyst for business development in your firm with our series of Catalyst Courses.

We invite you to take a look at our case studies and testimonials to learn what it is like to work with us.  

Want to know more about our services? Want to let us know what you think of our new look?  We hope you will get in touch at info@sccignites.com or +1 647 978 5502.

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Case Study: Getting the Whole Team Onboard for BD



Many of my clients struggle with engaging their Associates in the task of promoting the Firm: Why do they show no initiative? Why aren’t they more hungry? What more can I do?

Do these questions sound familiar?  There can be many things at play, of course, however, our work with an IP Boutique found success in engaging the firm’s Associates and bringing back enthusiasm and confidence to the partners. A BD reset, if you will.

1. Step One: A Written BD Strategy for the Firm

Our first step was to ensure everyone was on the same page. We facilitated discussions with the partners which resulted in a concrete strategy for the coming year; including 5 objectives, associated target audiences; desired outcomes and activities for achieving them. It is surprising, even to our clients themselves, how few of them have written BD strategies. The Managing Partner of this Firm noted “Like many firms, although the partners had a general idea of what our goals were, we had not taken the time to write a detailed Business Development strategy nor had we shared specific objectives with the other professionals and other role players in the firm.”

2. Step Two: Share the Strategy

Once you have a written Strategy you can set concrete expectations for your team. Sharing your Strategy with your Associates – especially when it includes concrete objectives and desired outcomes – gives them a sense of purpose and sets expectations. These are two things that we are all motivated by. This is the time to inform them that you expect that the whole firm will find a way of contributing to meeting the Strategy objectives. Assure them that you understand that everyone will contribute differently depending on their experience and aptitudes and that you will be providing them with training and mentoring to help them meet their potential.


3. Step Three: Provide Experiential Learning Supported By Coaching

Many of us have sat through business development training only to go back to our desks with great plans but no ideas for implementing them. This is made worse when our “day job” is staring us in the face. As such, SC&C provided a three hour experiential workshop for Associates.  It was designed to create a mind-set shift among Associates to begin thinking of their practice as a business that was in support of the overall firm’s business. The course took them through the practicalities of creating S.M.A.R.T. goals and tracking their success and was supported by group and individual coaching.


4. Step Four: Learn and Practice Together

A second experiential learning session included Partners and was about the fundamentals of BD, namely, fostering a relationship with clients and potential clients. It included role play, a chance to practice in teams and groups and a chance for Partners to assume a structured mentoring role that they have now institutionalized at the firm.


5. Step Five: Mentoring

Partners were given training and tips on how to mentor Associates to raise their BD potential. They had the chance to practice the tips and see the results during our Firm session of experiential learning. Each partner was given an Objective and a Team who they would be working with to meet that objective.

5. Step Six: Set Up an Accountability System

Using the firm’s existing resources, we co-created an internal system for all professionals to submit and be held accountable to their individual BD Strategies. Mentors scheduled on going accountability appointments with their Team and individual Associates. The BD and Marketing Department knew what everyone was working towards so they were able to provide targeted support to the lawyers throughout the year.

The Results?

The following are testimonials provided by the Managing Partner and another Senior Partner of this IP Boutique, respectively:

“As Kathryn predicted, this had the effect of engaging all members of our Team. It also gave us the opportunity for every member in our Team to prepare his/her own Business Development strategy, which falls within the ambit of the firm’s BD strategy. It enables everybody working on different aspects of the firm’s goals and doing so as a Team. We could also formulate a plan for execution with a timeline and deliverables. We are very optimistic about the new business that this spike in BD activity will bring to our Firm.”

“It was fantastic having you here. You gave us a big push in the right direction … I like that what you have left us with is focused and very practical yet would have taken us years to reach ourselves, if at all. As a firm we are re-invigorated and excited about our BD”.

About SC&C: Our Team of coaches, facilitators and trainers, work with lawyers and law firms to build their capacity to bring in bigger and better business, leading to a more profitable and satisfying practice. Based in Canada, with ties around the world, we can help you where you are to build the international clientele that you want. Contact us at info@sccignites.com.

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High Performance Lawyers Hire “Lawyer Coaches” To Enhance Their Performance

In the cover story of their July issue, Canadian Lawyer Magazine reported on the benefits of hiring “lawyer coaches” to support lawyers in reaching their potential as leaders, business developers and service providers while staying motivated and in peak form (http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/6480/Coaching-lawyers.html). SC&C’s Kathryn Szymczyk was interviewed for the article. Her business development coaching was described: “Szymczyk shows these reticent rainmakers that they can apply the same problem-solving skills with which they practice law to the sales process. She works with them to re-frame the concept of sales — away from superficial self-promotion and schmooze — to a process of asking questions of a potential client to elicit the information they would need to solve their problem.”

One of SC&C’s clients, Tracy Corneau, was also interviewed and the article notes her experience with coaching as follows: “Szymczyk’s coaching significantly improved Corneau’s business development efforts. The coach’s methods translated into measurable results that the client could then present to BLG’s management. “I had to show how many new clients and new files I was able to attract,” says Corneau. “The results raised my profile within the firm and within the IP profession. They had tangible implications for compensation and leadership opportunities.””

About SC&C: Want to know how coaching can help you ignite or reinvigorate your practice? Learn more here or contact Kathryn at kathryn@sccignites.com for your free 30 minute sample session.


Tips for Sales Conversations for Lawyers


Many of us know that in today’s market we need to be doing a better job at promoting ourselves.  We understand the logic that “sales” is now part of our job but we struggle with the reality of what that means and how to do it.

For many of us, the real problem lies with our deep rooted beliefs about “sales”.  What if “sales” was really about taking the time to find out what issues face our clients and then finding ways that we can help them?  Based on what works in other industries and what I have seen work in ours, I offer the following tips for having intentional conversations that lead to business:

1. Intentionally Connect

Open the door to more meaningful business conversations by establishing a personal connection with your prospects. Lawyers are notorious for keeping clients at arms length and taking a formal approach to relationships; thereby missing a chance to build rapport with clients or potential clients. Move beyond comments about the weather and time zones and take the time to find out what you might share in common with your prospect. This is the pathway to personal connection.  While it is true that some people are not interested in spending a lot of time having a friendly conversation, consider leading with more personal comments and leave it to them to make the switch in the conversation to business.
Tip:  “People like people who like them and people who are like them.”  Find something you share in common with your prospect.  Identify something you genuinely like about them or their approach and reflect it back in a casual conversation.  You will be amazed by how quickly this fosters connection.

2. Find Your Relevance – Be Curious About Their Unique Issues

As lawyers it has been drilled into us to never ask a question we do not know the answer to. Although this approach may be essential for the courtroom, it is a major obstacle to succeeding at sales conversations. Don’t assume you know what your prospect needs or that you have a generic solution that is relevant to them. Be genuinely curious about them and ask open ended questions.  They hold the key to your relevance so shouldn’t you take the time to hear what they have to say?  Furthermore, by showing you care about what concerns them, you will gain their trust and stand out from the competition as a true trusted advisor.
Tip:  Put the focus on them by asking open ended questions that begin with “how” and “what” which will illicit more useful information and help your client frame their issues.  This is what will set you apart as a true trusted advisor. For examples of effective questions, see Irene Leonard’s blog post here.


3. Show Them (Don’t tell them) You Are The Right Person For The Job

Once you have led your client to frame their real issues, offer some preliminary comments on how you can help them.  This is also a chance for you to identify why you are uniquely positioned for the work and provide them assurances that they can rely on you.  Use concrete examples from your past experiences to help them understand what you can offer. Through observations and intelligent questions, show them that you understand their industry, their business and the challenges they face.
Tip:  Preparation is key.  If you have the opportunity, research in advance to understand the issues your prospect may be facing.  Do not limit your comments to a narrow area of law without some knowledge of the context.  Ensure you have some understanding of the broader business issues at play. 


4. Overcome Obstacles

There may be reasons that are getting in the way of your prospect sending you work.  Use curiosity and open-ended questions to uncover these obstacles. These questions will not always be easy but if you have managed to create a trusting environment through the above steps, your prospect will most likely welcome the opportunity for a frank discussion with you.
Tip:  Consider coming right out and asking “Are there any obstacles keeping us from working together?” or “How can I help you take the next step?” or “What issues are you facing internally that might prevent you from getting my help?”

See Jamie Pennington’s post entitled Seven Questions That Get You Work“.


5. Follow Up: Feed Don’t Chase

It is estimated that lawyers leave about 80% of work in the pipeline due to their failure to follow up in a meaningful way with prospects.  See SC&C’s blog post here.  If you have followed the above steps you will have a wide variety of potential reasons to get in touch with your clients. Think of follow up as “feeding” not “chasing”.  Ensure that your follow up is about feeding your prospects with information of interest to them (see #3 above).

Tip:  There are many ways of following up including connecting on LinkedIn, sending them an article or an update with a personal note, or getting in touch with them before a conference you are attending.  Take every occasion to connect.  On average, it takes between 5 and 12 “touches” before a prospect becomes a client.


About SC&C: Our Team of coaches, facilitators and trainers, work with lawyers and firms to build their capacity to bring in bigger and better business, leading to a more profitable and satisfying practice. Based in Canada, with ties around the world, we can help you where you are to build the international clientele that you want. Contact us at info@sccignites.com.

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Presenting A New Formula For BD Success at FICPI

SC&C’s Kathryn Szymczyk Co-Presenting A New Formula for BD Success at FICPI’s 16th Open Forum


Kathryn Szymczyk, Director of SC&C|Taking IP Practices Further, together with Rich Goldstein of Goldstein Patent Law, will be addressing the plenary session at FICPI 16th Open Forum, St. Petersburg, Russia, 5-8 October 2016 with a presentation on Business Development. The session will be moderated by former president of FICPI, Bastiaan Koster of Von Seidels, South Africa. The topic directly follows from the theme of last year’s FICPI Congress “Adapt to Advance” and focuses in on how IP Attorneys can and should adapt their business development strategies to prosper in an increasingly competitive environment.

Kathryn who practiced IP law herself for 12 years before founding business development consulting firm SC&C, notes, “In today’s market, we can no longer afford to limit our business development efforts to showing up at a conference a couple of times a year. We need a shift in mindset in order to continually and consistently win and retain loyal clients and grow”.  In terms of what FICPI audiences can expect from the plenary session, she states, “Rich and I have a formula for success, drawn from other industries and executive coaching, which we will be sharing with the audience. Through directed networking and coaching, participants will also have a chance to test our theories during the presentation. Finally, we hope to send everyone home with some ideas of how they can consistently bring this mindset to their Firms for greater success.”

The session will take place at 9:00 a.m. on October 6, 2016 and will be followed by two days of high level sessions that include best practices and updates on the nuts and bolts of IP law as well as practical business management sessions. The history and beauty of St. Petersburg promises to play an enchanting backdrop for all social events and receptions.

We hope to see you there! Надеемся вас увидеть на презентацию!

About SC&C: Our Team of coaches, facilitators and trainers, work with IP lawyers and IP Firms to build their capacity to bring in bigger and better business, leading to a more profitable and satisfying practice. Based in Canada, with ties around the world, we can help you where you are to build the international clientele that you want. Contact us at info@sccignites.comor visit our website at www.sccignites.com.


Business Development Coaching: The New Weapon of Choice

Do you feel that changes to the market mean that there is increased pressure on you to bring in new clients or “sell”? Do you struggle to fit this in to your “day job” of being a brilliant lawyer? What else is getting in your way?

More and more lawyers and law firms are looking to business development coaching as the weapon of choice to build the capacity of lawyers to bring in new and more business.

In the article I wrote for The Trademark Lawyer Magazine, I explain how coaching works, who it is for, how firms are using it, and what results it can achieve.

What can you expect from business development coaching?

There are many benefits of business development coaching for lawyers, and here’s what you can expect from the process:

  1. Helps identify and tap into personal strengths, interests and comfort zones to personalize and effectively utilize business development skills and techniques;
  2. Gives lawyers the permission to spend time focusing on business development initiatives in a strategic way;
  3. Helps lawyers identify what is getting in the way of meeting their business development goals and develop strategies for overcoming those obstacles;
  4. Keeps business development top of mind;
  5. Holds lawyers accountable to their identified business development goals;
  6. Helps lawyers practice and acquire new perspectives, new behaviors and new habits transforming them into business development innovators.

The article also includes excerpts of interviews with my clients on how coaching has worked for them. For example, Geoff Mowatt a partner at Dimock Stratton shares why he thinks coaching worked to prepare him for 2015 BIO

“[Coaching] made me turn my mind to the approach I was taking and resulted in the formulation of a strategy based on what I knew had worked in the past and where I could be the most effective based on my strengths. I was much more deliberate at the conference and, without a doubt, I built the strongest relationships I ever had at a conference.”

Julia Matheson, a Partner at Finnegan, said:

“Anyone who thinks they don’t need business development coaching is getting ready to retire! Even if you are a successful business developer, the truth is that the market is constantly evolving and what you do has to also constantly evolve.”

Get started with business development coaching

If you are thinking about coaching, either for yourself or a cohort of lawyers in your firm, I offer these tips in my article:

1. Hire certified, experienced coaches: Coaching requires a very specific skill-set that helps people to move from ideas and plans into action. Look for coaches that are accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and/or can point to extensive experience and good references.

2. Embrace virtual coaching: To keep costs down and to ensure you have access to the very best, consider coaching by telephone or via video call services. Coaching is just as effective, if not more so, by these methods.

3. Consider group coaching: If your BD budget doesn’t allow for one-on-one coaching for all your lawyers, consider group coaching for a cohort of lawyers. Group coaching also helps to foster collaboration and cross selling – two key elements to bringing in the big deals.

4. Integrate coaching into your BD program: Coaching for individual lawyers is great but can be even more effective when it is part of a BD program for a cohort of lawyers. Design your program around specific business goals and include an information session, incentives and competition among lawyers as well as group coaching.

5. Establish metrics and measure results: Although new business is difficult to attribute directly to coaching, you can track increase in BD activities. It is a pretty sure bet that if your lawyers are engaging in more face time with clients, raising their credibility on line or any other such activity, they are increasing their chance of bringing in new business.

My clients have reported that receiving business development coaching, when it supports a concrete business development strategy for the firm, has increased their return on investment from conferences by at least 20-30%. Individual professionals report feeling less stressed and more focused and having greater clarity about their goals.

Want to give it a try? SC&C has a cadre of certified coaches with the right experience to help you. Contact us for a 30-minute sample session. Don’t yet have that business development strategy for your firm in place? We can help you with that too.