Practice Management Values

Covering Values from A to Z… Coaching for the 21st Century Lawyer!

Written by Paulette Pommells

The purpose of this column is to learn about, and practice (if you choose), a different value each time.  This idea emanated from:

  1. Discovering the personal values of each of my coaching clients and seeing how values can be successfully leveraged in one’s career, and
  2. Recognizing that there is value in learning about other people’s values in the workplace.

Values represent the basis of your beliefs, and are intrinsic to who you are. Each person has a unique set of values. I often refer to values as “DNA” because even when two people share a value, that same value will be expressed differently by each person. To find out (or confirm) what your values are, take a free workshop by video: All my clients love this exercise and learn a lot about themselves after taking it. I know you will benefit too!

Let’s get started with the first value…


“A feeling of being grateful for something. An ability to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something. An ability to appreciate something. Full awareness or understanding of something” (

Appreciation is a value of mine. It’s one of the reasons I am a professional coach. Being able to understand something or someone is important to me. It’s funny though because I used to think that all lawyers would naturally be good at self-promoting. As trained advocates, I just assumed they could translate the skill of acting on behalf of someone else to themselves. After coaching many lawyers who find it hard to talk about their own achievements, I am now conscious of their unique challenges to career advancement and business development. As Fernando Garcia (General Counsel) of Nissan Canada, Inc. acutely put it:

“if you do not advertise and promote your achievements, you will only be known by your failures or your role will be seen as only a cost-centre and not a critical strategic business partner” (

Build on Your Strengths

When it comes to building a strategy around this dilemma, the approach is not to ignore your natural tendency (and become a bold bragger) but rather to build on it. For these clients, many have no trouble commending the victories of their colleagues. This approach, in and of itself, is very powerful. Think of a time when someone said something positive about your work. Chances are it led you to reciprocate and think about, or vocalize, something positive about their work. Case in point, I was recently involved in a mediation (I still have a small litigation practice that I enjoy maintaining) where my client made a really great opening statement. The next day, I told the client as much and in response, he told me what he appreciated about my work. I was not “fishing” for a compliment, but I got it and, actually, this was the first time I received unsolicited feedback from that client!

Another way to build on this strength is to speak about the achievements of your collaborative efforts. So, for example, you might say:

“My firm successfully negotiated the release of a client from a complex matter. The partner quarterbacked all the legal arguments while the senior associate and myself conducted the supporting research, documentary review and drafting.”

Expressing your contribution within a larger context can be an effective way of describing your accomplishments. Think about it. The work of a lawyer is rarely a lone venture, and so the more you can communicate this, the more you will be appreciated!

How can you develop an appreciation for your own self-promotion style?


About the author

Paulette Pommells

I am a certified coach with a creative approach to bring out the best of the 21st Century Lawyer! A 21st Century Lawyer myself, I was faced with a professional dilemma years ago: I had become a “successful” lawyer, and yet something didn't feel right. One day, I hired a career coach and realized how similar coaching is to the legal strategy process. I decided to share this breakthrough with every single lawyer. Today, Creative Choices™ is a sought-after technique by lawyers, law students and law firms when it comes to professional challenges of all kinds. You can learn more about this on my website or by emailing me at

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.