CCF Successes – Jo-Anne Stark

CCF Successes – Jo-Anne Stark

What inspired you to become a Certified Coach?

I took the CCF training in 2016 with Abe Brown in Calgary and a refresher course in Vancouver a couple of years later.

I launched Stark Solutions Legal Coaching & Consulting in 2019 because as a lawyer, I spent over 25 years helping clients with their legal issues and found that many people could no longer afford traditional legal services from law firms.

Legal coaching is attractive to self-represented litigants who are trying to manage their own legal affairs because it is far less expensive and it empowers the client.

I developed a platform which allows a firm to operate virtually and in a manner that is very client-centric: my clients get quality legal guidance and support when they need it most, at a cost that they can afford. 

Once the platform proved successful, I began receiving requests for speaking engagements, sharing my story of how I coach legal clients to the public, lawyers and law students; I also presented to legal professionals across western Canada about how they can use technology to support the virtual business model and keep expenses down. 

How did you determine your coaching specialty?

I received ongoing requests from friends and others to assist with legal matters, mainly for divorces and estate administration issues.

Many of these people either could not afford to hire a full-service law firm, or had run out of money from using traditional lawyers and were attempting to navigate the complex justice system on their own.

From there, I began testing a model for a virtual law firm that specializes in legal coaching for self-represented litigants.

By developing a legal coaching platform for experienced legal professionals to service self-represented litigants, I believe that the average Canadian can finally access legal help when they are facing legal problems.

Access to justice is an enormous issue that has been growing exponentially – every year we see thousands of litigants attempting to navigate the complex justice system with all its rules and legislation – and now there is a solution for many of them – through legal coaching services. 

What is unique about you and your coaching business?

I really enjoy helping clients resolve their legal issues.

As I launched my practice, I began to realize that there are a number of lawyers in Canada who label themselves as a legal coach, but aside from a handful, none have actual training as a certified coach practitioner.

The more I presented to lawyers interested in this legal service delivery format, the more feedback I received that lawyers wanted to understand more specifically how to adjust their current practice to one that includes actual coaching techniques – and one that allows them to offer affordable services while remaining compliant with their Law Society.

My consulting service is unique in that I offer legal professionals a new way to structure a practice that meets with complex regulatory requirements while still remaining affordable – using a technology-based platform that is simple for legal coaches to use.

In addition to serving legal clients, I provide training and consulting to legal professionals to help them set up a practice to better serve their self-represented litigants.

What’s the most successful tactic you use to market your business?

The growing need for greater access to justice prompted me to write a book, Mastering the Art of Legal Coaching: A Legal Professional’s Guide to Empowering Clients (available online, spring of 2020).

In addition, I started the Legal Coaches Association Inc., the first non-profit association of its kind in North America, to promote the use of legal coaching for self-represented litigants.

I launched that website in April of 2020 to connect legal professionals who want to offer legal coaching services to clients.  I also set up LinkedIn and Facebook accounts for both Stark Solutions and the Legal Coaches Association, and I use social media to promote posts to my target audience.

I also do speaking engagements, interviews and promote the book to develop a stronger presence in the field and I plan to certify legal professionals to ensure that they have the credentials deemed important to regulators in order to protect the public interest.   

What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered in your coaching career?
How did you overcome it?

The greatest challenge for me has been working with regulators to help them accept and understand legal coaching as a way to deliver quality legal services.

Some Law Societies have been very open to the concept and are helping lawyers innovate in order to provide much-needed services to the middle class; others are not so receptive – and are very protective of the traditional model of practicing law with billable hours that result in highly unpredictable expenses for clients.

By bringing legal coaches across Canada together under the Legal Coaches Association, I hope to break down the barriers and help legal professionals get the support that they need to be successful, while providing service to thousands of self-represented litigants.

How has the Certified Coach Practitioner™ Course contributed to your success?

The course allowed me to shift my attention from fixing a problem to coaching a client.  Most lawyers really just focus on specific legal issues and a strategy to get a certain result; through the CCF program, I learned to work with the client and identify their personal strengths so that they are able to manage their own legal matters.

If you could share with a new coach one nugget of knowledge, what would you share?

You need to develop a relationship of trust with your client.

You need to develop a relationship of trust with your client; the best way to do that, is to figure out what type of coaching you are most passionate about, and clients will be drawn into your service.  There are a lot of coaches out there, so you need to create your own niche and be prepared to spend some money to launch a business that is professional and well-received.

Get in touch with Jo-Anne!

Websites:

Facebook: Stark Solutions Legal Coaching and Legal Coaches Association
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodiestark

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