Attorneys can benefit from counseling on career direction, executive coaching, and outplacement counseling.
Legal Career Direction
Legal career direction is assistance to navigate your career in the law. It includes support and advice about tough decisions as well as assessment, analysis, and goal setting.
As a career counselor I help my clients:
- Figure out the right career direction in or out of the law, including assessment, analysis, goal setting, and assistance to achieve the desired goal through coaching and continued counseling as needed.
- Learn about alternative work-time options and whether to utilize these options for a more satisfying career.
- Understand why they are experiencing a sense of dissatisfaction with their careers and help them to figure out a productive solution to overcome that dissatisfaction or malaise.
Executive coaching is assistance to do a better job at the current workplace.
As an executive coach I help attorneys learn to:
- Develop time-management skills.
- Work better with other co-workers.
- Understand how to start strong and excel as a new associate in a law firm.
- Develop business.
- Manage a difficult boss or co-workers.
- Prepare for a review.
- These represent some but not all of the presenting problems I have seen in my executive coaching work.
Outplacement counseling/coaching is assistance for attorneys who have been let go by their firms. The focus of this work is on helping my clients to:
- Manage their negative reactions to this event (humiliation, sadness, depression, anger etc.).
- Identify where in the market his or her skillset would be welcomed.
- Put together an effective job search blueprint.
- Conduct the search by acting as a coach and support.
- Prepare for the interview.
- Craft the best resume for the type of search and type of job sought.
- Continue as a support and guide if the search is longer than usual due to the recession.
- Teach networking skills.
- Teach business development skills.
My rate depends on ability to pay. I use a sliding fee scale which we can discuss. The rate depends on the individual‘s particular situation and the presenting problem. Some people meet with me for only one or two sessions; others for more than ten.
I work with clients, both lawyers and non-lawyers, who present with career direction issues. By that I mean they are not sure if they want to or need to stay in the current field, whether they should move to a different field or different job in the same field. I also work with many clients who are ambivalent. By that I mean they have been uncertain about what to do for a long time and keep going back and forth in their own minds (or talking with others) about what to do to have a more fulfilling career.
I have learned in over thirty years of career counseling, that the best way to address these issues is to do the following work:
1. Our first meeting is usually devoted to a discussion of your current work situation—the pros and cons. We discuss five key factors that tend to separate out those people who are likely to actually leave the profession and those people who are more likely to stay in the field. We discuss these factors and why they can be strong indicators but not necessarily determinants of your ultimate success in leaving the field.
2. The next session is devoted to your work history and personal history. I ask you to think back to every job you have had—paid or unpaid—all the way back to high school. We talk about the skills gained and the pros and cons of each job. This helps us to identify trends and repetitive themes that will help us to figure out what you need to have and to avoid in a workplace setting or in a career. The personal history can help to identify, reinforce and understand certain themes that we can see emerging in the work history.
3. The next session is devoted to a workbook. The workbook has exercises that open up the realm of possibilities for more engaging work. To find satisfying work in life we need to match our work to our personalities and our personal strengths. We are looking for the “sweet-spot“ for your career, that match up of aptitudes, interests, lifestyle, and self-actualization. We also have to factor in current skills and the market need.
4. The next session is devoted to identifying those things you must have in your work life to be happy and those things you need to avoid and put them on paper. I guide you through this exercise. We create a template, a tool you can use to understand what to look for in your search for the next job or the next career going forward. We also use the template to understand what has not been working for you in your current or past jobs. At this point I will identify career moves that are most likely to be good ones for you. I base my suggestions on market knowledge and career moves that worked well for other clients with similar career needs. The career moves I suggest are not always the final suggestions, but they serve as the jumping off point for a quest to learn more about these practice areas, careers or jobs to see if they will in fact be right for you.
5. The next phase of our work is the research and instructional phase. To find the right next move in a career it is important to talk with people doing the work you think you would like to be doing. I help you to learn how to find the people to talk with or, in some cases, I can give you a contact person to meet with- someone who has made the same career shift you are considering. It is also very helpful to read about the new career you are considering.
While you are talking with people and learning more about the career, practice area, or job you are considering, we continue to meet and I do training sessions with you about the three key elements of a successful search: 1. Productive Networking 2. Excellent Interviewing, and 3. Using the Resume to tell your story.
My rate depends on ability to pay. I use a sliding fee scale which we can discuss. Some people meet with me for only one or two sessions; others for more than ten. Most of my clients who devote eight to ten hours with me doing the career work outlined above are able to move beyond ambivalence and develop the next career direction.
Law Firm/Corporate Services
Nielsen Career Consulting offers a suite of services to help law firms develop their attorneys‘ interpersonal skills and manage their careers. With a focus on retaining talented employees, Nielsen‘s training and coaching services help law firms keep the best and brightest while maximizing effectiveness and productivity.
Sheila Markin Nielsen has translated over twenty years of experience and insight into developing the Skills for Success curriculum. This customizable training program offers three content modules, which can be delivered separately or as an integrated whole.
Interpersonal Communication deals with the skills that define workplace savvy, such as managing support staff, engaging with colleagues, facilitating meetings and leading teams.
Networking teaches attorneys to manage and build their own circles of contacts for both business development and image development in the legal community.
Organizational Skills covers a host of skills important to workplace effectiveness, such as managing time, delegating work, establishing priorities and overcoming procrastination.
Nielsen also offers Preparing for Success, specially designed to help new hires start out on the right track by projecting the right image, having the right attitude, and understanding how to manage relationships with their peers, partners and support staff. The course highlights strategies for dealing with disorganized colleagues, micromanaging partners and other difficult office personalities.
Nielsen offers her signature Strategies for Success coaching to associates and partners at all levels, creating fully customized personal development plans that address issues interfering with greater success at work. Coaching clients receive one-on-one support to improve their interpersonal and business development skills, leadership ability and workplace savvy, with special emphasis on identifying hidden issues at work, understanding political ramifications and motivations and developing better working relationships with partners, co-workers and support staff.
When attorneys are let go, they often face difficult job searches. Unlike traditional outplacement firms, geared toward the business world, Nielsen Career Consulting offers specific market knowledge and information about the most effective search strategies for lawyers. Nielsen‘s sensitive, supportive, individualized Paths to Success outplacement service has successfully assisted firms with the most difficult cases, developing a reputation as the gold standard in legal outplacement.
Therapist Referral Services
As a therapist, you may work with some patients who are in need of career assistance or who may need this kind of help in the future. It can be difficult to know what to say or do to address career concerns in a therapeutic relationship. Whether you work with lawyers or other professionals or new graduates from college or professional school, I can provide assistance with career issues and dilemmas.
Here are the types of referrals I routinely receive from therapists:
- Resolution of recurrent ambivalence about a career or job.
- The need for better knowledge about how to conduct a truly effective job search. (I do a game changing training session on job search and my book on the subject is included in cost of the training.)
- The development of a more effective, collaborative communication or leadership style.
- Problems overcoming procrastination or delegation and time management issues.
- Help to manage a difficult boss or other challenging work situation.
- Interview assistance.
- Preparation for a review at work.
My work with clients is insight-oriented with a focus on goal setting and education as well as continuing support to attain the goals that are set by the client. I like to collaborate with therapists if the client approves that interaction – I find it is very helpful and it can make a big difference in the outcome.
Consider a referral to me for analysis and support around the above listed career problems and other career issues you and your patient have identified.
The best way to tell if the career problem is one that I can help with is to contact me so we can discuss the problem in general terms. I will be happy to advise you about whether it is something in my wheel house or whether it is a problem that is better dealt with in another way.