Thursday, February 2, 2012

Coach's Corner Bar Moved!

Last week I relocated Coach's Corner Bar to make it part of my website, Your Benchmark Coach. I put up a new post and will keep adding more there. Please continue to visit Coach's Corner Bar in its new location!

Thank you.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Refresher for Job Applicants - 3 key tips

Three job search tips jumped out at me from Jay Goltz's article on tips for job applicants in yesterday's New York Times. They are critical to setting yourself apart, yet I know they are commonly overlooked by lawyers and law students seeking their first or next job. Doesn't that sound like an opportunity?

"7. Think about things you have done in school, in a previous job, in a volunteer position that speak to your commitment, your ability to solve problems, your ability to deal with difficult customer situations, your ability to get a job done. Work it into your résumé and your interview responses.

8. Ask questions, especially when interviewers ask if you have any questions. If you don’t, you look unengaged, afraid or uninterested. And make them good questions about what you’ll be doing on the job. Don’t ask how much vacation time you get. The primary goal of the questions you ask is to get the job, not to decide if you want the job. [emphasis supplied] * * *

10. Stay in touch. If you get to be a finalist for a position but don’t get it, suck it up. Don’t take it personally. The company clearly liked you, but you were edged out. It is not easy to pick between finalists, and many times it is very close. Ask if you can stay in touch. If you get an enthusiastic yes, be sure to do so. There is a good chance that the new hire won’t work out or that another position will open up. You are close!"

If you, or someone you know, want to make changes now for a more effective job search, please contact me to start coaching.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Practical Pointers on Everyday Persuasion - Part 2

2. Appeal to Their Interests, Values and Needs.

When trying to persuade someone, consider that person’s interests, values and needs. Stand in her shoes and see the subject from that point of view. Listen to and respect the other person. Then tailor your comments to appeal to her interests and needs, and so she sees the benefit to herself. Demonstrate how she will benefit. Provide real life examples.

Sales people and young children do this all the time. They align their position with the other person’s interests, appeal to what is important to her, and then communicate clearly and with compelling evidence how the matter is advantageous for her.

Sales people make small talk with a customer and then say something like “I can see quality is important to you” or “this vehicle has all the features a growing family like yours will need.” Many young children are very skilled at persuading their parents by appealing to their parents’ interest in avoiding a public scene.

To persuade your boss to give you a certain matter to handle, consider his concerns and what is important to him. Figure out how giving you the matter aligns with his interests and how it benefits him. Communicate clearly and provide evidence of your readiness and a plan that eliminates his concerns.

When persuading my colleagues to be guinea pigs in the e-newsletter, I appealed to their interests in marketing their legal services in a unique, personal way. Knowing that time is precious, I also made it very easy for them. Similarly, to persuade new members to join the association, we are focused on demonstrating how we meet their interests and needs.

3. Whose Idea

A last bit of advice comes from lawyers who are excellent brief writers. They advise new lawyers to let the judge follow the bread crumbs. Don’t force the conclusion on the judge. When you seek to persuade, let the other person think the idea was his.

If you are ready for coaching to help you get what you want in your career, please contact me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Practical Pointers on Everyday Persuasion - Part 1

Maybe you want to convince your boss to give you greater independence on a case or project. Perhaps you have to recruit new members for your organization. Today you might be trying to convince a judge. Tomorrow you might need to convince someone to change their behavior, give you a raise, buy something or support a cause.

We encounter situations daily in which we are trying to persuade someone else to hold a certain belief or act a certain way or in which someone is similarly trying to persuade us.

Instead of trying to win an argument or force something on someone, what can you do to polish your power of persuasion for these daily encounters?

Much has been written about the art of persuasion, including Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you have not read it, I recommend this little old book. But if your time is limited, here are a few pointers on everyday persuasion.

1. Trust and Credibility

I may sound like a broken record but people do business with people they know, like and trust. We use doctors, babysitters and hair dressers with whom we have experience or who are recommended to us because someone else we trust knows, likes and trusts them. We patronize franchises and buy brand name products because we know what to expect. They have credibility in our eyes.

Similarly, your relationships with the people you seek to persuade also play a key role in your ability to persuade them. The more trust and credibility you have with them, the easier it is to persuade them. Moreover, you may have found that you personally are more easily persuaded by people you like.

Therefore, even in brief persuasion encounters, try to establish trust as well as credibility and be positive, likeable, confident. Of course, this includes being sincere and knowledgeable about your subject.

You can use subconscious persuasion techniques like mirroring the person’s body language, getting them nodding, using reciprocity, or over-asking and making your second request the real one. But without trust and credibility, these techniques won’t get you far in winning someone over or inducing a particular action.

For example, without an underlying relationship built on trust and credibility, I never could have persuaded three members in my bar association to be guinea pigs in a new e-newsletter last month. They agreed to be the first featured members, in part, because they trusted that the association and I would produce a quality publication.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Should Lawyers Have a Personal Brand?

Until I facilitated and spoke about branding at two different lawyer events last week, I wasn't convinced the word "brand" was a relevant concept for lawyers. I didn't even think it worked very well for law firms. While the word reputation seemed more accessible, brand seemed a very amorphous concept that marketing consultants push, with law firms re-branding by changing their logo, colors, tag line and web design. Working through preparation and discussions last week, however, persuaded me that the concept of a "brand" has relevance and value for lawyers.

Brand and branding have hundreds of different definitions. It's easiest for me to think of a brand as the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced.


Lawyers shoud have a personal brand in the sense that you should figure out what the consistent experiences and expectations are that people have with you as a lawyer and what you want them to be. Ideally you want them aligned.

Lawyers don't need to have a personal brand in the sense of something you describe to someone else. You don't have to be able to tell a prospective client your "brand identity." It isn't a question people ask each other.

For example, Nike doesn't say action, athleticism, performance, excellence and success are its brand. But those are words that capture the essence of Nike athletic apparel and the image that Nike conveys in its marketing. By making sure that its products live up to this image, Nike maintains its brand and the consumer knows what he or she will receive every single time he or she purchases a Nike product.

Capture the Essence

Like Nike, Apple or McDonald's, consider what words capture the essence of you as a lawyer and the consistent experience you want people to have with you as their lawyer. Those words won't necessarily appear in your tag line, elevator speech, website bio, LinkedIn profile, introductions when you speak or author notes when you write an article. But self-reflection will better focus you on your strengths and core values as a lawyer, the services you offer, your reputation, image, style, real interests and fit with your best clients. You will have more clarity on who you are as a lawyer and the consistent experience you provide for your clients.

The Compelling You

With this clarity you can create a more compelling website or website bio instead of using the same buzz words as every other law firm. You can rework your self-introduction to sound more like you. You can write a better personal business plan for 2012 or speak more confidently and directly during your next evaluation.

The clarity and focus will help because you will realize what you do well, what is important to you, how you connect with your clients and colleagues and why they keep coming back to you.

After you identify your brand, you can build brand awareness by raising your visibility and name recognition. Become known by your target market and potential referral sources for the consistency of the services and experiences you provide.


Getting focused and clear on your brand helps you attract more business, advance professionally and have more control over your day, practice and career. Regardless of whether you are in a law firm, corporation, government or elsewhere, a new lawyer or an experienced one, identifying your brand is time well spent.

If you are ready for coaching on branding, please contact me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Innovative Campaign to Get a Job....

Actions speak louder than words. This young woman put her social media skills into action in her bid to land a job as the University of Michigan's first Director of Social Media.

Dear Lisa Rudgers....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Public Speaking Tips From Recent Lawyer Meetings

Last week at state bar annual meeting events I observed lawyers as public speakers in various roles and thought about a few tips that go beyond being prepared, varying your pace, making eye contact, etc. It was a good wake up call for me as a frequent public speaker.

Regardless of whether you are introducing a speaker, running a meeting, giving a report, interjecting in a forum, presenting an award, receiving an award or giving the key note address, remember this bottom line:

  • Be respectful of your audience's time and interest. Know why they are there and what they want to hear. Know what is most valuable to them and present it. Don't overstay your welcome.

    For example:

  • Have humility.
  • Don't fall in love with the microphone. Leave your audience wanting more.
  • Don't say I'll be brief. Just BE brief.
  • Bonus tip: if you are going to refer to someone previously at the podium, make a note of his or her name and use it. Project the image of a good listener.

    If you would like coaching to help you improve as a public speaker, please contact me.

  • Monday, September 12, 2011

    College Football Blog: Imagine Bob Ufer calling the Michigan-Notre Dame g...

    College Football Blog: Imagine Bob Ufer calling the Michigan-Notre Dame g...: About the only thing that could have possibly made the Michigan-Notre Dame game last Saturday night any better would have been to hear legen...

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Inside Look At One Prosecutor's Life

    For those of you interested in becoming a prosecutor, here is an interesting profile of a very experienced female prosecutor in Washtenaw County, MI.

    Dianna Collins, Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor

    Written by Frank Weir of the Washtenaw County Legal News and published August 18, 2011.

    For law students and new grads, remember you have to be ready to answer: Why did you decide to go to law school? Why do you want to be a [trial lawyer][prosecutor][employment lawyer]...?

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Tips 2 & 3 on Doing Things Differently

    2. Take responsibility for your practice and career.

    Many lawyers in firms see themselves as “service partners” working on other partners’ clients without any control over or time for the development of their own practice. It is a self-perpetuating reality until they take big steps to change it.

    One partner finally realized it was up to her to assert herself and act more like an owner than an associate. She knew if she wanted to take her practice in a particular direction, she had to put a plan together and get started. She did. Result: her senior partners noticed and initiated the discussion about supporting a workable plan.

    A partner at another firm wanted to develop his own book of business but needed time for it. He set parameters for the scope of his involvement on other partners’ matters, managed his time better and let his partners know he was developing a niche. Result: he is steadily building a book of business through referrals and presentations and doing more of the sophisticated work he likes.

    3. Timing is rarely right.

    “The economy is bad right now." "My kids are little." "My parents need me." "Work is crazy lately." "Maybe when things slow down a bit." "We want to have another child.”

    Face it, timing is rarely right. When was the last time you thought “this is a good time to ….?”

    Stop waiting for the perfect time. Marketing/business development, time management and career management are never ending processes. Name your fear(s) and make a list of what you will give up if you don’t take action now. People have done it and you can too.

    Please contact me if you are ready to start.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Doing Things Differently

    Most lawyers are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to time management, business development and career planning. They repeatedly do and say the same old things while hoping for a different result.

    “I wish I had time to do marketing." "I apply online for in house jobs but I never hear back." "I don’t like talking about myself." "I don’t have any control over my work day.”

    Lawyers rarely look objectively at what they are doing, how they are doing it and what they can do differently to improve their results. When they do take a look and start doing things differently, results are often immediate and noticeable.

    1. Be intentional. For a different result, stop doing the same old thing.

    A lawyer heeded some advice. She responded to a LinkedIn invitation by sending back a message with a coffee invitation to get to know the other person’s practice better. She received a resounding yes and “you’re the first person to ever send back a note in response to a LinkedIn invitation.” Instead of mindlessly accepting the invitation to link in, the lawyer had acted intentionally. Result: within a week coffee was consumed and the door for mutual referrals was opened.

    A lawyer wanting a better fit decided to stop hiding in the woodwork. In her firm she always shined the light on her colleagues. She shrank from talking about herself and minimized everything she did. Yet she realized hiding her interests and experience wouldn’t get her closer to her dream job.

    So she changed her perspective on talking about herself. Now she shares more about herself with her close contacts and has found appropriate ways to ask for help. Result: after two months of this change, she received a call from a contact about a position that was being held for her. Her ideal contacts list is growing and a firm client requested she take over as its lead lawyer.

    What can you be more intentional about?

    Next Post: Tips 2 and 3.

    If you are ready for coaching to make changes, please contact me.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Job Search Tip #4 for Lawyers: Develop a Web Presence

    You are searching for your first or next job as a lawyer. Google your own name. What comes up? If little information comes up, at a minimum you should build a LinkedIn and Google profile. They are free and no spam is involved.

    Build these profiles so that when people want to know something about you professionally, they can search online and find you. Even if you are looking for your first lawyer job, having a presence on the web gives you more credibility and visibility.

    In addition, eventually when your profile is strong enough, people will find you when they search for someone with your qualifications, experience or other characteristics. Recruiters definitely use LinkedIn, even in the legal profession.

    A LinkedIn profile is an easily updated online resume that allows you to share more information and recommendations. In your profile, you can easily ask for and display recommendations for any and all positions and activities. For that reason if for no other, build a profile and put a hot link to it on your resume. Potential employers will have immediate access to your recommendations.

    LinkedIn helps you quickly expand your network of contacts during your job search without the common fear of being annoying or a “stalker”. It is perfectly acceptable to send someone a LinkedIn invitation with a few personal sentences a day after you meet them. After all, this is a professional online networking tool. Many people find sending a personalized LinkedIn invitation much easier and more natural than drafting a “nice to meet you, please keep me in mind….” email from scratch that they hope will lead to something further.

    LinkedIn helps you stay visible to your contacts. By using the update/status bar you can stay on your contacts’ radar screens without anxiety about being intrusive or a bother.

    Last but certainly not least, in addition to using LinkedIn to showcase yourself as part of your job search, you can also use LinkedIn in your job search to look for information on and contacts with firms, companies and people. Do not underestimate this resource.

    Although there are more than 100 million people on LinkedIn, I am constantly surprised by the number of lawyers I know who are not on it or have only a bare bones profile.

    Being on LinkedIn no longer means you must be looking for a job. In fact, I recently read that a BTI survey showed that 70% of corporate counsel use LinkedIn as a tool and that 50% of corporate counsel stop and think a minute before hiring a lawyer who lacks a credible online presence in addition to their official law firm bio.

    Reality: You should develop an individual web presence regardless of whether you are looking for a job now or might be later, and regardless of whether you already have a website or are part of a law firm’s website.

    Job Search Tips # 1-4 Bottom Line: distinguish yourself by working, selling and continuing to learn, and by showcasing yourself online.

    If you are ready for coaching to improve your job search, please contact me.