Are you ready for the Coach and Advisor Network?
By: Stephen Ahad, CAN Counsel
If you are considering submitting a Request for Time with a CAN Coach or Advisor or are already matched, here are a few ways to make the most of your engagement.
- What do you need?
CAN recognizes that lawyers and paralegals need different things at different times. This is why CAN offers two distinct options: Coaching and Advising.
Coaching is a process for managing positive change and is ideal for skills enhancement and practice management guidance. Coaching requires approximately a 3-month commitment.
Advising provides Participants with guidance on a substantive or procedural issue, typically on a client file. An Advisor will make themselves available for a 30-minute phone call.
If the inquiry relates to the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, Trust Accounts, record-keeping requirements or if you have an ethical inquiry, consider contacting the Practice Management Helpline.
- Check your time
CAN makes best efforts to either confirm a match or provide a status report within ten business days for Coaching Requests or within two business days for Advising Requests. Once a match is confirmed, it is up to the Participant to initiate contact and then for the volunteer to respond.
Given that Coaches and Advisors are volunteers drawn from the professions, availability varies. You should use CAN for strategic support only. CAN cannot guarantee a match or services on urgent timelines.
- Get Specific
When making a request, let us know exactly what you are looking for. This helps CAN make effective matches, or find what you need if there isn’t a volunteer available with that skill set or practice area.
It’s best to drill down the goal to be as specific as possible. For example, “Opening a Practice” is a commonly listed Coaching objective. If this is your goal, think about what you’d like to cover before you start the engagement. For example, do you want to work on developing subject matter expertise, business skills, business structure, marketing, geographic location, building a client base, and/or all of the above?
In the context of an Advisor engagement, you need to keep confidentiality and potential conflicts top of mind, but some additional detail about your particular issue can be really helpful.
- Be prepared
CAN provides Participants with a roadmap to follow. Be sure to read the introductory email carefully to understand the steps and your role.
If you Request a Time with an Advisor, you need to keep confidentiality and potential conflicts top of mind, so you may not be able to send the Pre-Call Worksheet to your Advisor, but you should use it as a tool to focus your thinking to maximize your time on the call.
- Keep the momentum
Lawyers and paralegals are busy people.
Advisors expect you to contact them within 2 days of the match confirmation. But if you do not hear back, call CAN for help.
Coaches expect you to complete the Pre-Contact Worksheet and then contact them within 7 days of the match confirmation. Coaches are in high demand; if you find you are not ready to proceed, let us know right away so we can re-assign the Coach. Either party can ask for a re-assignment at any time. There are no hard feelings and CAN is here to help.
If you have any questions about any aspect of the CAN program, either before Requesting Time or after, feel free to contact CAN.
Once you’ve been matched, try to contact your Coach or Advisor as soon as possible and circle back to CAN if you need any assistance.
- Lean in
Coaching or Advising must be driven by you to be effective.
Coaching is a process that will help you articulate goals and implement action plans. A Coach may have experience to share, but they need not be a subject matter expert in a particular area of law to add value. Their role is to be an expert in the process: to help increase your awareness of what you want to achieve and to create a framework for accountability, paving the way for you to take action.
An Advisor must have at least 5 years of experience in the practice area to volunteer. An Advisor can serve as a sounding board, assisting to identify facts, assumptions, issues, areas for further inquiry, resources and options. But an Advisor cannot be a substitute for your own legal research and judgment.
In both cases, the outcome is always up to you, and the more you put in, the more you get out.
- Have fun!
CAN provides an opportunity to improve your practice and connect with colleagues. What’s not to like?