On the 'Whole' Book to focus on holistic approach to practicing law

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By Debra Talcott
Legal News

What do you get when you put an employment litigator turned certified performance coach and a civil litigation and appellate attorney known for welcoming new challenges into the same family?  The result is an upcoming book tentatively titled “The Whole Lawyer,” which will be published in paperback by the American Bar Association as early as September of 2013. 

The brainchild of life partners Cami McLaren and Stephanie Finelli, the book will focus on a holistic way of practicing law and will help lawyers honor all areas of their lives and legal practices.

McLaren, who earned her J.D. and her L.L.M. from University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, practiced law for 16 years before training as an ontological quantum coach. Finelli earned her J.D. from the University of California - Davis School of Law. Her work focuses on civil litigation and appeals in the Sacramento practice she established in 2003 after working for seven years for a small litigation firm.

 “I have taken the tools I teach my lawyer clients and compiled them into a book that is designed to give lawyers who may not hire a coach some of the benefits they would have if they did hire a coach,” explains McLaren. “In this way, reading the book enables them to learn to use the same coaching tools that have been valuable to my clients.”

McLaren says the book will teach attorneys how to evaluate their practices and how to make changes that will make practicing law easier.

 “It will provide information that could be used within a firm or with groups of attorneys working together to change the culture of the firm.  It will also form the basis of classes I will teach regarding how to change the practice of law on an even deeper level.”

When McLaren practiced law, she was involved in predominantly defense-side employment litigation, including discrimination and harassment cases. Yet she found a way to design her work schedule to be compatible with her personal life.

“In a profession where people are typically overworked and experience a great deal of stress, I was able to practice in a way that fit my schedule and my lifestyle. I have personal experience creating something new in a field that does things a particular way, and I have a passion for assisting attorneys to balance their practices and personal lives,” says McLaren.

After graduating from the Resource Realizations coaching academy and earning her certification, McLaren began coaching busy legal professionals in several key areas, including  time management, improved communication skills, conflict resolution, discovery of fulfillment at work, and creation of what she calls “a more peaceful, efficient, and purposeful state of being.”

In her coaching practice, McLaren helps others discover what fulfills them in their work and identify and reconnect with what drew them to their professions in the first place.

“I have a full practice coaching attorneys one-on-one. I also coach business owners, lawyers, and other coaches on building a sustainable and abundant practice. Additionally, I have developed several group coaching classes specifically directed at small business owners in order to make coaching concepts more affordable to this group of people who are very interested in moving their businesses forward but often feel they cannot afford one-on-one coaching,” says McLaren.

McLaren also designs personalized coaching programs for law firms that want to target a particular need they have identified. “In those instances, I design a program for their specific need in which I combine teaching and group coaching,” explains McLaren.

As busy professionals, McLaren and Finelli practice the same coaching strategies McLaren teaches others in order to achieve the work/life balance that many busy professionals find so elusive.   The parents of two sons, Graham, 12, and Connor, 10, the two make time to be active in the boys’ school, Camellia Waldorf, where Finelli chairs the parent organization and McLaren serves as a board member.

McLaren and Finelli enjoy the creative process of brainstorming and writing “The Whole Lawyer.” They collaborate on all of the chapters, with McLaren providing the coaching material and Finelli responsible for the attorney perspective.

“I enjoy finding quotes, putting together case studies and examples, and editing,” says Finelli.  “It was challenging coming up with a format for the book. We went through several different ideas before arriving at our current format.”

No doubt, Finelli has done some of her best thinking about the book’s organization during her long-distance runs. She logs an average of 50 miles per week as she prepares for whatever marathon is “next” on her calendar. She is also the current chair of the appellate section of the Sacramento County Bar Association.

“Some people were surprised that I am taking on such a project with all of the other things I have going on,” Finelli admits.

“They wonder where I find the time. I wonder myself. But I am always taking on new challenges, so people have learned to just wish me luck. Also, I have been writing since I was a kid. I used to love to write short stories and even majored in English. I always thought I would write novels for a living, but I never gave myself the chance to the do that as I started law school at 22.”

McLaren, too, seems to thrive on her multi-faceted life. Last fall she spoke at the California State Bar Association Convention on the topic of time management for lawyers.  While writing “The Whole Lawyer,” she is simultaneously working on another book with life coach and best-selling author of “Come Back,” Claire Fontaine.

“My other book is designed for a 10-week class on transformational life principles—those concepts that create the most significant change in people’s lives.”

Even with so many “irons in the fire,” McLaren is content when the lines between her professional life and private life become blurred.

“Our children are healthy and thriving, and Stephanie and I are enjoying taking on this new project of writing a book together,” she says. “My personal and work life are very much intertwined because I so enjoy what I do. I feel very fortunate to have such an abundant practice working with people to make their lives and their careers more fulfilling.”

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