Does coaching really work?

Joe came to me because he was unhappy with the pressure he felt to reach the number of billable hours his firm expected. He was falling short of expectations and didn't want to disappoint his firm or himself. The idea of hitting the number every week was daunting and uninspiring. Read more.

Who's the coach?

Donna's life experience includes building a multi-million dollar business and then selling it to a Fortune 500. Read more.

Contact Donna

Attorney-Engine Coaching
1911 Indian Wood Circle
Maumee, OH 43566

567 952 0303

Actual scenarios


Joe came to me because he was unhappy with the pressure he felt to reach the number of billable hours his firm expected. He was falling short of expectations and didn’t want to disappoint his firm or himself. The idea of hitting the number every week was daunting and uninspiring.

During his coaching, we examined Joe’s options, and he quickly realized that he wanted and needed to stay with his current firm. Through coaching, Joe stopped the struggle he had been having for months. He decided what he really wanted was to broaden his responsibilities in the firm to include marketing, research and publishing. He is a strong marketer and knew publishing would bring even more credibility and recognition to the firm.

He is drafting a “What’s in it for them” proposal to the firm to show how it will benefit significantly if his billable hours goal is adjusted to allow for marketing and publishing. The proposal will include an outline of how his time will be allocated and methods to measure results.

If his proposal is accepted, he will have a lasting solution to remaining happily associated with his firm. If the firm isn’t ready to change Joe’s responsibilities now, he is willing to be patient as he persuades the firm to adopt his proposal later or pursue his ideal position at another firm. Either way, Joe now knows what job he ultimately wants.


Rick chose coaching because he needed to increase his billable hours or risk his career. A partner in a mid-size law firm, he was falling far short of his firm’s goals and disappointing himself every month as his name appeared in the bottom third of the firm’s list of billable hours producers.

We started by reviewing Rick’s time use. It revealed that he served on a half dozen boards and committees in his community, many of which required a serious time commitment. He always thought the time he spent volunteering paid back in business. A reality check showed him he was spending far more time than he thought and that the pay back wasn’t nearly what he had imagined it was.

As a result of coaching, Rick now has a plan for giving up several of his volunteer commitments as his terms expire. He is using that time to call on a market sector that has referred him the most business over the last year.

In addition, before the coaching process, when Rick got behind on hours in a week, he would write it off as a bad week. No more. Now he tracks his billable hours daily, weekly and monthly. He has a target for each day and a way to “catch up” when he falls behind.

Rick’s billable hours increased 20% during his coaching process. He committed to a coaching checkup every three months for the next year to make sure he stays on track. He says because of his renewed confidence and his improved standing in the firm, he now will start speaking up at partner meetings for the first time ever.

Rick’s first two checkups were outstanding. He is maintaining his gains in billable hours and is ready to go for the last 10% increase he desires. We are reinforcing his new habits and building more so that he will reach his ultimate goal of a 30% improvement in billable hours. The stress relief he feels from performing well at work is translating into better health and more enjoyment in his personal life.


Jill is likeable, talented partner in a law firm whose reputation for doing really good legal work was being tarnished by her habit of not returning phone calls and missing deadlines. Her charm saved her often, but not always. She started coaching to help her overcome the challenge she had with following through.

One of Jill’s first insights in coaching was that she excused others who were late with their work or didn’t return his phone calls because she knew they were busy. Jill believed her clients and colleagues would use the same thinking when her work or return calls were late. After all, she rationalized, the quality of her work was very good, but she was a busy attorney and clients would understand. Instead they were frustrated and were starting to avoid referring her business.

Through coaching, Jill realized that her way of justifying discourteous behavior by others was stopping her from changing her own. She came to understand that her faulty thinking pattern was perpetuating a behavior that was impacting her success.

Jill also knew she had hundreds files that should be reviewed and clients contacted for potential business. By understanding her own limitations and brainstorming solutions, she discovered another way to get the job done. Adopting a new strategy for tackling that job removed the guilt and worry she felt each time she passed the filing cabinet.

Today, Jill returns phone calls timely. She has a method to elicit support from staff in the firm to keep review work up to date. She is using a system that allows her to organize current work so that it gets done on time and keeps her mind clear because she knows she is on top of her work.

Jill’s business increased more than 25% after implementing the new systems, and she is well on her way to enhancing her reputation. Her next target is a seven figure contribution to her firm.