Vanderbilt Lawyer - Volume 37, Number 2

Finding the Right Niche: Executive Coaching for Lawyers

Deborah Katz Solomon, '96

Deborah Katz Solomon, '96, founded Acuity Legal Consulting (www.acuitylegal.com), a firm that provides executive coaching for attorneys nationwide, after practicing antitrust law with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in New York and Washington, D.C., for more than seven years. "When I graduated from law school, I never expected my career would take this turn," Solomon says. "But as I gained experience as a lawyer, I became more interested in the business of law than in practice itself. My interest began to shift to professional development-specifically the links between individual performance, personal satisfaction and law firm profitability."

Today, Solomon's work with top law firms and individual attorneys encompasses professional development, leadership and marketing coaching for lawyers at all levels of seniority.

Before leaving her law practice to launch her new venture, Solomon researched the ways in which professional development and leadership consulting add value in the corporate arena. "Executive coaching caught my attention because of its proven success in helping senior business leaders be more effective within their organizations," she recalls. Solomon's research also included a battery of personality, aptitude and strength assessment tests. The results, which "revealed entrepreneurial and interpersonal strengths I hadn't fully utilized as a lawyer as well as an interest in working in a more direct counseling role," encouraged Solomon to move forward with her plan to establish a coaching practice aimed at attorneys at top firms.

During her startup phase, Solomon became certified in leadership coaching through a program at Georgetown University and took additional courses to gain the skills she needed to coach her former peers. In the five years since she founded Acuity Legal, her coaching practice has expanded to include work with firms as well as individual attorneys. "My specialty is working with lawyers who want to be more effective in their practice," she says. "Firms hire me to work with their new partners, practice group leaders and others in key management positions." She reports steady interest during the current economic slowdown as firms seek to "boost competitiveness by investing in their people, particularly in the areas of business development and leadership."

Solomon finds satisfaction in the fact that she has made her own career more rewarding by starting a business that helps others achieve the same goal. "I find great fulfillment in helping top lawyers become more effective managers, leaders and business developers, which benefits them and their organizations," she says. "Work plays such an important part in each of our identities. I'm proud to have created a career that suits me so well and helps my clients take their careers to the next level."

Deborah Katz Solomon's article about her career transition and coaching practice, "From Antitrust Lawyer to Executive Coach," appeared in the June 2007 Law Practice Management Magazine.