In-House Counsel, A Career Coaches View of Knowledge Management: What’s the Connection?

In-House Counsel, A Career Coaches View of Knowledge Management: What’s the Connection?

Continuing our special guest blogger series, this week we tackle another issue front and center on in-house counsel minds, how to create and then manage a successful in-house career.  As the global economy continues to show signs of improvement, this is the right time to ponder, under the category of personal knowledge management, are in-house counsel  properly engineering their careers.  Perhaps in-house lawyers will find the remainder of 2010 the right time to consider your personal career cards and fix what you may perceive as broken.

If I can stereotype, most in-house counsel move from private practice to in-house as they see an advantage to being an integral player on a business team that sticks around for many years.  Frequently, when lawyers move in-house there is a desire to commit to a single client and grow with the client through good times and bad times.  Good times are easy.  Bad times (a/k/a interesting times) have proven to be far more difficult to navigate.  As the social contract between employers and employees around the world has moved away from lifetime employment, the definition of how to manage an in-house career has to also changed.  Today's visiting blogger, career coach Karen Castellon, is not only a specialist in leveraging career options but also understands how Law Departments tick having served as the Chief of Staff for two General Counsels at a Fortune 100 company.  It should be noted that both General Counsels had a keen interest in the principles of knowledge management and Law Department contribution was a criteria for success.  Karen now works with lawyers and other professionals who desire change in their current work situation through career growth but either have no time to contemplate a new course of action or simply can't decide where and when to begin the transformation process.

Karen, having helped run a Law Department, has been in the mix and is well experienced helping jump start attorney career stalls whenever there is uncertainty about how to move to the next level, circumstances where attorneys have run out of gas amidst the everyday "stuff" (i.e. burnout) or, more positively, addressing the circumstance where an attorney has been promoted and wants to hit the ground running.   Bottom line, Karen will help answer how busy in-house counsel (and other Law industry professionals) can stay on top of their game. 

I now pass the keyboard to Karen Castellon: 

Knowledge Management is a process for optimizing the effective application of intellectual capital to achieve objectives.  In an organization, this means ensuring that there is a defined approach to capturing, sharing, and maintaining the integrity of knowledge assets.  As an individual, how can you leverage your own wealth of knowledge, experience and passion so that you are focused on activities that tap your strengths rather than your less developed or weaker professional and personal muscles? 

Client Story:  "Shelly" is in her mid-40s and has been practicing in-house law for more than 20 years. She felt scattered with too many projects and had trouble focusing on getting even one of them completed in a way that felt satisfying.  Getting organized was her main goal in the first 90 days of coaching.  She wanted to create a game plan and be held accountable for the progress that she made in that plan- but not her boss or her husband.  (Those relationships already had history.)

By spending 30 to 40 minutes per week reviewing her progress, her intermediate wins, and what she had learned, she was able to make better choices and work on the projects that were most important to achieving her bigger goal- either in bang for the buck or visibility or both.   She gained a better appreciation for her accomplishments- and so did her boss and colleagues - and scored several smaller wins that had not even been on her radar screen.

Coaching is both a relationship between the coach and client, and a process to tap into your self-knowledge as well as shine light on your blind spots in service to creating greater fulfillment and balance in your life.  From this exploration, you create value for both yourself and your organization by identifying and acting from a space of your own collective strength.   Because we spend much of our waking hours at work, we often times look to change an aspect of our professional space as a first move.  Quickly we discover that the whole person is at play all of the time.

Knowledge Management and coaching have three main areas in common.  Both are focused on first, mining the wealth of individual knowledge and strengths; second, integrating these assets in pursuit of both professional and personal objectives; and third, leveraging the assets by choosing activities that play to your strengths, which energize you, and as a result create a bigger win for you and your organization.

Read the full blog post on Martindale-Hubbell Connected (free registration is required).