Ready, Set, Go: Preparing for Coaching

Posted: 12/10/2018

Michael BuryWorking with a CAN coach can have an incredible impact on your practice.  It can take you from feeling perpetually stuck to gaining the confidence needed to make dramatic changes in your practice.  I’ve seen this time and time again in my coaching engagements.  It is truly rewarding for everyone involved.  Getting positive results from coaching, however, requires some upfront “heavy-lifting” and a clear understanding of the coach’s role.

First, you need to really think long and hard about the changes you want to make.  Having a vague idea about not being “happy” with your job or the current direction of your practice doesn’t help.  So invest the time into making a personal inventory of what’s working and what’s not working – a roadmap for you and your coach.  Write it down.  Reflect on it.   It’s not the easiest thing to do and you may even require the help of a coach to get this done. But you need to establish clarity about where you are at and where you want to go.

Second, you need to know what a CAN coach can and can’t do for you.  We cannot get you a job, be a substitute for a course of self-study or take you into meetings with our clients. But we can be a thought-partner with you as you develop best practices.  We are not magicians.  We are not psychics.  Put simply, change is hard.  A coach can work with you to develop new habits and skills, but it takes both time and the willingness to communicate your needs effectively to your coach.  Often coaches are asked to differentiate between coaching and counselling.  This is an important distinction; coaching is not psychotherapy.  A therapist’s role is typically backward looking.  They try to assist their clients to understand their current challenges by examining how their past has contributed to the present.   If you think you would benefit from counselling, consider accessing the Member Assistance Program.  By contrast, a coach’s role is forward looking.  While some time may be spent examining your past “wins and losses”, the focus is always on next steps.  We work with you to create successful personal tools and skills for future success.

And finally, you need to set aside the time in your life.   As lawyers and paralegals, we are all busy.  And there will always be distractions and client emergencies.  But coaching requires a serious commitment to both attending regularly and doing the work in between sessions to make change happen.  Take the time to carve out a schedule that will work.  Consistency is the key to getting the results you want.  The CAN coaching model is a “sprint” to support a focused approach to a specific outcome over roughly a 3-month period.  The CAN model includes an initial introductory session of 1.5 hrs followed by five 30-minute sessions, ideally set on alternating weeks.  Given the geographic realities of our province, CAN encourages remote engagements via Skype or Zoom or telephone.  While we know an in-person attendance can help build rapport, you may be surprised at how effective video-conferencing can be.

Once you understand what’s involved, the coaching experience can be life-changing.  Working together, you and your coach will create lasting strategies that will both get you “unstuck” and move you forward to where you want to be in life sooner, rather than later.

By Michael Bury, LL.M., Certified Executive Coach at and volunteer coach for the Law Society’s Coach and Advisor Network (CAN)