Interview: Ulrike Staats, Senior Manager of Global HR / L&D CMS Legal Services

The CLP - Interview series goes into the second round: After the successful prelude with over ten experts from the legal industry, who have betrayed their very personal success tips for a successful legal career, this time ten lawyers will have their say, who coach - legal coaches, who for very different reasons have acquired additional competences with a professional coaching training.

CLP has interviewed these legal coaches in very different positions about what motivated them and how coaching has significantly influenced their professional careers.

Ms. Staats, may we ask you to briefly introduce yourself?

My passion is to work with people on their personal and professional development. Working with and on personalities is perhaps the best way to put it. One image that comes to mind again and again is that of a travelling companion. To be available as an open ear for the fellow traveller, to reflect his observations, to complement his own impressions, to point out beautiful, new and practicable ways off the self-trampled paths, to encourage the courage of discovery.

I began my professional career as a lawyer in banking and finance law. My focus was on legal advice in real estate financing and project financing in the field of renewable energies.

After giving up my career as a lawyer, I studied business psychology with a focus on industrial and organizational psychology and at the same time completed a two-year training course in systemic coaching and systemic organizational development.

Today, as Senior Manager of Global HR / L&D at CMS Legal Services, I am responsible for the international CMS Academy and the management of CMS' international orientation in HR. I am particularly interested in the programs within the framework of our Academy, which enable us to provide partners and associates with support for their personal development and facilitate exchange and networking.

To the private: I have been living in an inspiring partnership in Frankfurt am Main for many years. Here, I enjoy the diversity of urban life - and the opportunity to quickly immerse myself in the enchanting nature of the Taunus, Odenwald and Rheingau.

#1 When did you first become involved in coaching and why? Did you get to know coaching as a client?

I first came into contact with coaching when I needed help to reorient myself professionally. I had realized that the original legal work as a lawyer did not sufficiently satisfy me, that essential things were missing - but I had no idea what to look for. So a 4-day coaching seminar on the subject of strengths, talents and the core of one's own personality was just what I needed. During these 4 days I became aware of the power that good coaching can unfold - but also of the hard work involved in the coaching process, especially for the client.

In the end I didn't know what exactly and concretely it was that I should tackle professionally. But I had a much better idea of my talents, strengths and preferences. It was like a spotlight shining on my path - and so I was able to start a new orientation within a short time, the result of which led me to where I am today (very satisfied and highly motivated).  

#2 What was it that particularly fascinated you? What do you see as the added value of coaching for lawyers in particular?

The main insight I have gained during my coaching experience as a client, during my coaching training and even today is that coaching always has the potential to create added value, regardless of education and profession. And this depends on a personal development goal, or for example in difficult life situations. The core and the fascinating thing for me is that I, as a client, am put in a position that allows me to change my perspective and allows me to gain the necessary insights about my person or situation myself and to find a (new) path for myself. Coaching opens my eyes, shows me new horizons and puts me as a client in a forward position. It is hardly surprising that I am a big fan of solution-oriented approaches.

But back to the question: For lawyers, coaching can be advantageous in many ways. Whether it is to support one's own career prospects, when changing from an associate role to a partnership in a law firm, but also for seasoned partners* and executives up to GC who want to work with large teams and increase their effectiveness. A (side) effect can also be that the experience as a coaching client awakens the desire to complete a coaching training course in order to pass on what has been learned or to change or expand one's own management style in the direction of coaching. Finally, I also believe that the change of perspective learned in the course of coaching enables lawyers to slip into each other's shoes more easily in negotiation situations, ask the right questions and thus achieve a better negotiation result for all parties.

#3 How do you use coaching today in your professional and/or private situation? In your experience, how and to what extent is coaching used by lawyers today?

In our company, one of the world's largest law firms, we use coaching on an international level specifically for the development of our partners. In particular, we would like to support partners who lead teams and perform leadership functions within the organization with offers for self-reflection, for example with regard to their leadership style, and in this context also with coaching. This offer is very much appreciated, and for me it is always wonderful to see how great impact can be achieved with relatively minor interventions. We work together with renowned business coaches who are highly valued by our program participants and receive excellent feedback.

#4 Your very personal tip for success:

That depends entirely on how you define success for yourself. The smallest and at the same time most important step is perhaps: Getting involved in coaching as a path not taken so far, try it out and experience the effect yourself.

Thank you very much.

Read the entire series of interviews including the first round here. 

Get to know another ten legal coaches from the international environment. 

Click here for the CLP Academy's legal coaching training.



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