Lawyer Monthly - Women in Law Awards

Here, Dr Tutschka discusses the practice of legal coaching and what it can provide for clients. Legal coaching describes an operating method in legal consultancy in which coaching skills are employed to support an individual. Legal coaching is thus exclusively practiced by legal professionals during or instead of their legal support during a mandate. A lawyer providing legal coaching will be booked and paid by the client as a legal and coaching professional to explore and achieve the ideal legal solution. In this context, similar to medical coaching by a medical doctor, legal coaching is used in legal counselling by a lawyer. Legal coaching is thus coaching performed by lawyers and is to be distinguished from coaching of lawyers: In the latter case, lawyers are coached on career topics (business coaching) by a coach who is not necessarily a lawyer but has experience with legal careers. The term “legal coaching” (like legal counselling or legal advice) used in the sense of “career coaching for lawyers” is therefore misleading. Legal coaching is particularly helpful when the client seeking a (legal) solution to a (legal) problem is still undecided as to which solution fits best for their individual situation and personal life. Legal counsels in organisations also use legal coaching to accommodate and navigate differing and potentially opposing interests in different departments within a company in order to come to a consensual legal solution. In strong contrast to mediation, the lawyer involved in the legal coaching process will retain their partiality to their client and will be not the “third person” in a conflict of two. Due to the borrowings from arbitration and negotiation, legal coaching can be used to manage conflict and negotiation situations in a structured, moderated and solution-oriented manner where the legal coach is on the side of their client. Method On one hand, the method of legal coaching is an adaptation of the increasing professionalisation of the coaching profession and caters specifically to legal professionals to provide a high-end specialised coaching experience in contrast to low-budget and standardised coaching through digital platforms or artificial intelligence. On the other hand, professional legal coaching and the certification as such may be used by legal professionals to promote their own profile through specialisation and thus provide clients with unique tools on an ever more competitive market. Legal coaching can also aid legal professionals in responding to the increased demand for legal support through human interaction in times of easily accessible and inexpensive legal tech solutions (e.g. legal portals). It thus closes the gap between the mere legal consulting of a mandate, negotiation and mediation. The objectified legal consultancy is therefore replaced by an individual development process with professional legal support. In addition to the facts of the case concerned, the lawyer employing legal coaching techniques will also, for example, aim to grasp motives, systemic interdependencies, and the overall life goals of the client. Last but not least, by picking up the intrinsic motivation and the crisis stage of the client in a differentiated manner, above all with empathy and emotional intelligence (EQ), the lawyer will seek to partner with the client to develop individually sustainable solutions together with them. The legal coaching process thus allows the “human component” of the lawyer to emerge: their human presence in the conversation. Areas of Application Legal coaching is primarily established in the Western world—such as in the EU and in English-speaking countries such as the UK, Canada and the US. Unlike Europe, the number one reason in the US and Canada to include legal coaching as part of legal consultancy was to find a way of providing affordable legal support and easier access to justice. To do so, legal coaching in this context is practiced by a lawyer before or instead of a regular legal mandate to allow for lower legal fees. The legal professional will support the client as a “behind the scenes” legal coach to provide guidance and mentorship, to develop strategies and share knowledge and practical tools, and to provide tips about courtroom etiquette and decorum. Legal coaching thus also commonly implies that a lawyer will offer assistance throughout the case on all issues or will provide that support at key moments in the court process. Legal coaching is usually practiced by lawyers who have completed a professional coaching training course. Such training may be specifically tailored to lawyers or more general coaching training. In the latter instance, lawyers have each adapted their coaching methods individually to fit the specific needs of legal professionals. This can lead to subjective differences in the application, implementation and quality of the legal coaching. The method of mediation historically went through a similar process until Acts concerning the practice of mediation were passed in several countries to ensure a standard of quality (for example, Mediationsgesetz in Germany). It is debatable whether lawyers who have completed only general coaching training may also call themselves “legal coaches” and whether they may declare the activity they are performing as “legal coaching”. It is at least recognised that the same standards as in professional business coaching must also apply in legal consulting, i.e. in legal coaching: coaching training should be accredited by a professional association, should be business-related and the legal coach should seek certification to prove professional implementation. Women in Law Awards 2021 LEGAL COACHING GERMANY - 24 -

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