Why Silicon Valley CLO’s are hiring performance coaches for their teams.


Last week, I received this message from a Chief Legal Officer of a Series C startup: “Charlotte – will you be our Billions Coach?”

The Silicon Valley startup falls into the innovative, disruptive, rapid growth category. The CLO’s direct reports are the brightest lawyers, privacy leaders, government affairs professionals, and legal ops folk.

So what’s a Billions Coach? I hear you ask! 

During 2020, like many, I got into the show “Billions” at the height of the lockdown. I loved the portrayal of Wendy Rhodes, the hedge fund’s in-house performance coach. Bobby Axelrod, CEO of Axe Capital, played by Damian Lewis, sees Wendy as one of the most valuable assets of his firm. 

As an in-house performance coach, Wendy’s job is to keep the fiercely brilliant and ambitious team members functioning at peak power. This is not intangible touchy-feely coaching; this is bottom-line boosting performance enhancement. And Wendy is their rocket fuel. 

While these types of shows (along with old favorites like Ally McBeal and Legally Blonde) are very much dramatized, Silicon Valley companies retaining the services of an in-house performance coach is a rapidly growing trend.  And it is a trend that I believe is here to stay.

While executive coaches, sales coaches, and business coaches have been around for many years (often supporting the C-Suite and revenue-generating functions), hiring performance coaches for legal teams is a relatively new addition to the professional development model.

For 2022 and beyond, enter the in-house legal performance coach. 


As we come out of the pandemic, the job market is HOT here in the Bay Area, in NY, and across the US, and I am also seeing this trend reflected by my UK and global clients. Overworked and demotivated team members can find attractive opportunities elsewhere, and the loss of previous perks which are no longer available due to homeworking means that people are more willing to compromise on perks in exchange for higher salaries.

Everyone is now talking about ‘The Great Resignation’, and it has created a more challenging environment than ever for legal teams to attract and retain top talent. It is for this reason that companies are beginning to, and will increasingly, employ more types of in-house employee support to increase retention rates of their best staff.

How Investing in a Professional Lawyer Coach Can Enhance Performance?  

CLO’s and CEOs understand that performance coaching for lawyers and legal teams is an intelligent, bottom-line enhancing investment. 

When a legal team performs at the pinnacle of excellence, it is fast-moving, strategic, and responsive. Legal, Privacy, Government Affairs, and Compliance are all essential thought-partners. At their best, they enable business and manage risk simultaneously, effectively protecting hundreds of millions of dollars. 

For companies navigating the complex journey of a fundraise or on the path to an initial public offering,  minimizing liabilities, and enhancing the balance sheet through well-put-together deals as a result of strategic legal counsel is a business imperative.  

Performance coaching helps to take the Chief Legal Officer’s vision of a high-performing team and make it a reality, by raising awareness around team performance and minimizing any performance-limiting factors, such as lack of resources, limited training, overwork, burnout, mindset limitations, and more.  

Performance coaching is not therapy. It is not about salvaging underperformers or simply making people ‘feel good’. It is (often frank and tough) coaching delivered to support strategic growth in the context of a relationship where there is high trust and mutual respect. Performance coaching requires a high degree of commitment from the team to be successful. And it has to show results.

Traditionally, investments have been made in generic coaching, delivered by professionals without legal expertise, or in coaching for revenue-generating teams (sales coaching, etc.). 

The above examples are just some reasons high-growth startups invest in coaching services specific to the legal environment. 

Because the core services function is an incremental part of any business, investing in your team’s performance is vital to protect revenue and boost the bottom line.

Like Bobby Axelrod, CEO of Axe Capital, knew, investing in a legally trained, in-house performance coach is one of the most valuable investments you can make.

If you are interested in hearing more about how I can support your startup, please do not hesitate to book a 45-minute, complimentary exploratory conversation.


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