Why I am a CAN Coach and Advisor

Posted: 12/18/2017

Minda BowmanBy Minda Bowman, Paralegal

I joined the volunteer roster of the Coach and Advisor Network (“CAN”) in November, 2016 and so far I have accepted 7 coaching engagements and 3 advisor engagements.

As a Coach, I guide the Participant through the CAN’s GROW model to examine the Participant’s perspectives on their ‘goals’, ‘realities’, ‘options’, and the ‘way-forward.’ The process supports the evolution of the Participant’s practice management, both ethically and functionally.

Most of my Participants are stressed out over common issues such as: ‘time management’, ‘generating more billable hours’, ‘networking skills’, ‘balancing family life’, ‘lack of motivation’ and ‘burnout’… just to name a few. The CAN Coaching model provides a structured yet creative process over six sessions. Between sessions the Participant works on strategies for getting organized and making positive changes. CAN’s worksheets and checklists help to keep the conversations focused and I encourage the Participant to keep a journal of daily thoughts or notes to share at the next session. This is an easy process. It is not overwhelming and it gives the Participant a sense that there is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I never tell a participant what to do and I am not a therapist. I am clear that we must work together in our respective roles. What’s most important is that this is an opportunity for the Participant to be heard; ok – many need to vent. So I listen and I validate the Participant’s concerns. I ask thought-provoking questions that elicit the Participant’s ability and opportunity to communicate options and generate solutions that will work for them. A Participant is encouraged to come committed to think and communicate ideas and answers; to report back on “homework” assigned between sessions, and to come with a positive forward- thinking attitude. I don’t work harder than my Participant. The Participant needs to take the initiative to engage in this process. I am only there to guide the Participant through it.

By the end of the sessions, the Participant has evolved and gained a sense of empowerment and control over their goals and legal practice. They feel less anxious than they were at the beginning because they discover that they DO have the potential to make change happen for themselves. I will stress that I did not do this for them; and so Participants finish the coaching engagement with a greater sense of self-awareness and self-esteem as well.

Being an Advisor is a whole different role than being a Coach. As an Advisor, you bring experience in substantive and procedural law and you guide the Participant in their analysis of an issue arising generally or in the context of a client file during a single 30-minute telephone call. After many years of paralegal practice, it is very gratifying to share that knowledge and experience with other licensees. Most of the time, I find that by the end of the call, I have also learned something from the Participant as we exchange fruitful ideas about practice.

What I like best about the CAN program is the fact that sometimes, while engaged in a CAN session, I really see two licensees developing a peer relationship of mutual respect, trust and reassurance where there is no judgment.

We listen, we discuss, we breathe, we strategize, we learn and we get back on track more focused and in control of ourselves, our clients and our practices. The Coach and Advisor Network is for everyone.