Kate Blackburn – Business and Career Coach; Mentor; Consultant

I have more than 30 years experience of developing and managing people and change both from within law firms and barristers’ chambers, and as an external management consultant and coach.

The primary focus of my practice is coaching and mentoring to support career development and performance change with individuals, leaders and senior management teams.  Clients are typically managing change, marshalling thoughts and choices, taking control in a new role, dealing with new and difficult scenarios or building a new team.

My coaching work is often generated after a consultancy or training project involving a major change initiative.  That includes work with clients to review their organisational structures and systems, follow through change management projects, develop strategic planning through facilitated away-days, design and deliver training and development programmes for individuals and teams, often using MBTI, and develop recruitment and interviewing processes.

The introduction of competency based interview systems for silk and judicial appointments has created an immediate and focused coaching need driven by an application deadline.  Barristers are also now using personal development coaching to help them prepare themselves and their practices for the next stage career transition in advance of applications.  I am the lead practitioner on the development of this initiative within Sherwood.

My approach to coaching involves:

  • Generally focusing on a non-directive form of development
  • Improving performance and developing individual skills
  • Clarifying specific professional goals (organisational and individual)
  • Looking at future possibilities and potential and aiming to close the gap between potential and actual performance
  • Heightened self-awareness to help clients identify what is going well and what is not, the underlying causes and how to move performance on to a higher level

In essence, I help clients to get to a solution faster than they might do on their own, working with them to identify what needs to change, looking at the different options, considering the barriers to change and moving to specific actions so that individuals can take responsibility for their own outcomes.  Talking in confidence to someone outside the firm can be both liberating and enlightening.  I provide a useful sounding board, informed by my own experience as a senior leader/manager in a variety of roles, as well as by my experience as a consultant and coach.

Recent projects include:

  • Preparing for competency based selection processes
  • Coping with the management of a difficult personnel/HR issue
  • Helping to prepare for a specific project e.g. putting together a business case
  • Adjusting to recent promotion and understanding a different role within the difficult culture of a new merger
  • Developing new skills, especially inter-personal skills appropriate to leading and motivating individuals and teams and influencing others
  • Having those difficult conversations
  • Effective use of assertiveness

 Career background

  • Joined Sherwood in 2004 – coach, facilitator, trainer and consultant
  • Committee Member, Managing Partners’ Forum, South West since 2011
  • Regular conference speaker e.g. CLT, LPMA and IBC
  • New role as Chief Executive of leading multi-disciplinary set of barristers’ chambers (2000-2004)
  • Freshfields, International Project Manager (1991-2000)
  • Officer in the British Army (1983-1991)


  • Use of TKI Conflict Mode Instrument (2013)
  • Mindfulness – in the context of coaching psychology with BPS (2012)
  • Graduate on the Meyler Campbell Business Coaching Course accredited by the World Association of Business Coaches and the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (2009/10)
  • Qualified as an MBTI practitioner (2009)
  • Completed the Meyler Campbell “Psychology for Coaches” course (2008)
  • NVQ Assessor, Freshfields and Law Society accredited trainer – time management (1999)
  • MBA in Legal Practice, Nottingham Law School (1996-1998)
  • BSc (Hons) Institutional Management, Cardiff University (1980-1983)

Contact me to find out who else in Sherwood can help.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s