Consulting, Speaking, Facilitation, Training and Coaching
Strategic Planning, Business Development, Process Improvement, Project Management, and Organizational Development for Competitive Advantages 


Catherine Alman MacDonagh, JD is a former corporate counsel and successful law firm executive. With FIRM Guidance, she offers strategic planning, marketing, business development and process improvement (Lean Sigma) consulting services with a particular focus on the legal profession. Her unique combination of experiences allows her to deliver FIRM Guidance with diplomatic but straightforward and practical advice that considers the sometimes competing perspectives and interests of client, firm, department, administrators, practitioners, and consultants, as well as organizational goals and culture. 
Catherine is known for her inclusive approach to strategic planning and change management, for devising and delivering innovative training programs and workshops, and for leading groundbreaking and first-to-market initiatives, particularly in relation to firm/client relationships, associates, women lawyers, client development, and process improvement.  She believes in creating an enjoyable environment while focusing seriously on work, using flip charts and lots of sticky notes, experiential learning, and developing and working with high functioning teams. 
Contact: or 857.272.5695. 

FIRM Guidance

My pledge is to provide practical and straightforward advice without using a lot of "consultant speak." Whether we are working on strategic planning, organizational structuring, marketing or business development, I strive to provide coaching clients, audiences, and workshop or training participants with engaging, productive experiences that deliver a substantial return on their (and the organization's) investment. 

My primary focus is the legal profession, though I enjoy working with different types of organizations. Things are changing, but when I went to law school, there were no courses that taught me how to stucture or manage a law firm or legal department. No one discussed the difference between marketing and business development or taught me how to grow (not to mention improve) my business.

Now, having been both an inhouse lawyer/client and a law firm marketing and business development professional, I am particularly passionate about using my experience to help those in the legal profession. There are ways of getting, doing, and delivering work (and service) in ways that provide value to all. My approach is always tailored to meet the needs of clients, since a "one size fits all" approach is ineffective. Regardless, my role is to facilitate the development of critical new skills by lawyers and the business professionals who work with them so that they can achieve their (not my) goals. At this point, it should be clear that having a strategy, selling and project management skills, and highly efficient processes are not luxuries. Rather, they are necessities.

I will never suggest that any person fundamentally changes who she or he is or ever be disingenuous - it's critical for people to be authentic in forging and furthering relationships. I also won't recommend engaging in activities that people find terrifying or excruciating or spending a lot of time working on weaknesses, since I believe in working with each organization's, group's and/or individual's unique strengths and interests.

I do ask for a commitment to continuous development, improvement, and growth. This, by definition, means constantly stretching beyond comfort zones, trying new things, and learning from failures and successes. As with any learned activity, new skills require practice and only become second nature with repetition, consistent effort, and coaching.

Developing competitive advantages is serious and challenging work. It can also be the greatest, most enjoyable professional experience; as such, I always endeavor to deliver services and programs that are highly relevant, experiential, immediately useful, practical, and entertaining (I have theater and improv experience and I think it shows).

People learn and contribute more when they are fully engaged, enjoying the experience, and having fun!


Speaking Engagements

"A dynamic speaker who kept us engaged and, more importantly, delivered useful information and important, serious messages with a great sense of humor, timing and understanding." 

"It is so much easier to be trained and coached by a lawyer who was a corporate counsel and has worked with so many lawyers in firms – she gets it! My practice has really grown. And so have I – she is terrific.”

"Catherine MacDonagh was very knowledgeable … and made the time fly by with great tips that I can and will use.” 

"Catherine MacDonagh made this (conference) for me. She was just great and I’m so glad we had her talk about personal marketing skills!” 

"What was exemplary (about a day long retreat) was Catherine MacDonagh.”  

“Well worth the time and money.” 


Book Reviews

Lean Six Sigma for Law Firms

Any law firm interested in creating a successful shift to modern management methods, should set about acquiring this book -Phillip Taylor MBE

I applaud Catherine in creating this primer on process improvement - It is critically needed by our profession. -Tom Sager, Former Sr. VP and General Council, Du Pont Legal


The Law Firm Associate's Guide to Personal Marketing and Selling Skills 

MacDonagh and Cuzzone ably demystify marketing and selling for associates by breaking the process down into straightforward, commonsense steps. This slim volume is crammed with tips and advice that are sure to rev up even the most reluctant associate’s marketing metabolism. — Cherie W. Olland, Global Director of Business Development and Communications, Jones Day

The authors have delivered wonderful content for an undeserved firm and industry need: associate business development training. By explaining marketing and sales - and even more important, how they work together - this book gives lawyers a framework for client driven success. Well done. — Ed Schechter, Chief Marketing Officer, Duane Morris LLP

Attorneys looking to earn more, build more, and close more — regardless of tenure — will find this book invaluable! — John Klymshyn, President, The Business Generator Inc. and author

No lawyer gets this training in law school or in continuing education programs, yet every lawyer needs it to survive in a professional services world where every client is coveted. Lawyers can also find ways to connect with their most desired client partners through use of careful questioning, dynamic listening and individualized techniques that will make every client feel special. — John O. Cunningham, Esq., Former General Counsel, Pizzeria Uno, law and business writer

 If you are the average law firm associate, developing personal marketing and selling skills is like starting an exercise program: you know you should do it but you’d just as soon put it off for another day. The Guide offers solid practical advice that will nicely complement a law firm’s existing associate development program and that will serve as a powerful tool in the firm’s marketing and business development arsenal. — Kathleen B. Patton, Director of Professional Development, Brown Rudnick

The book is pure gold… I have seen no better roadmap, done in such a succinct and practical way than this 115 page book… Every law firm in the country should buy it for their associates as a sign of their commitment to professional development (and their desire to retain them).  -Holly Lentz Kleeman, Lentz Productions, Senior Marketing Manager, Duane Morris, LLP


The Woman Lawyer's Rainmaking Game

"[The Women Lawyer's Rainmaking Game] drills down on the gender issues that make it difficult for women to take control of their markeitn efforts but which, it utilized, make women particularly effective. In addition to providing practiceal steps for building your business, [the] book underscores the importance of being straight-forward and confident in your approach to building those trust relationships which endure and prosper."  - Margaret T. Brueener, Partner, Schirmeister

"This book give practical advice that you can actually implement. The authors break down the process into small, baby steps, so you are never afraid to get started. And they provide a variety of recommendations to suit a variety of personalities." - Denise DeFranco, Senior Partner

"[This is] a highly readable book filled with informaiton that only an experienced and successful practiioner could impart. It is an important book for those who are new to business development and to experienced rainmakers as well. This book should be required reading for anyone who needs to undersand and master the art of rainmaking." - Shelly Canter, Ph.D. 





Strategic Planning and Individual Business Planning
Facilitation, development, refinement and/or execution of strategic, business and client acquisition/development plans for Boards of Directors, Executive/Management Committees, Practice Groups, and Client Teams. Values workshops, SWOT Analyses, Stakeholder Analyses, strategic goal setting and prioritization, talent acquisition and retention.

Client Research/Interviews
Develop overall program either for or in collaboration with firm. Conduct client interviews and present findings. 
Retreats & Workshops
Management, Department, Practice Groups, Partner, Associate, Women Lawyers, and other groups.
Business Development Coaching
Practice group or individuals.
Leadership Coaching 
Management/Executive level coaching. 

Training Programs and Workshops - Sample topics

  • Introduction to marketing and business development
  • The client lifecycle (from the service provider’s perspective)
  • Buyer personality types
  • Communication styles
  • Creating Your Plan
  • Your Elevator Speech 
  • Communicating Your Plan and Moving from Planning to Action
  • Networking Skills / The Mocktail
  • Successful Client Meeting
  • High Performing Client Teams 


Myers-Briggs Type Index
Online evaluation followed by training session and explanation of results by individual and/or team. With a proven record of reliability spanning more than 50 years, the MBTI offers a foundation for understanding individual differences and applying that understanding to the ways people think, communicate, and interact. The MBTI assessment is used to develop the participants’ understanding and abilities in such areas as communication, team building, leadership, and business/client development.   
Coaching Sessions  
Individual, confidential coaching is where the practical application of learning, accountability to self, and real progress takes place. It is provided for the purpose of ensuring follow up and assisting each individual in: the creation and implementation of an actionable plan, learning how to overcome obstacles, realizing successes, leveraging strengths and acknowledging weaknesses, and developing both personally and professionally.  

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More about Catherine:


  • A Legal Lean Sigma® Black Belt and a certified Six Sigma Green Belt, Catherine is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Legal Lean Sigma® Institute, which provides consulting services, workshops, and the first process improvement programs and certification courses specifically designed for the legal profession.
  • Catherine developed and is Chief Enthusiasm Officer of the Mocktails LLC, which offers both The Mocktail™ and the Legal Mocktail™, experiential networking training programs. 
  • She’s is also a Co-Founder of the Legal Sales and Service Organization. LSSO is exclusively focused on sales, service excellence, and process improvement and presents the annual LSSO’s RainDance Conference™.  Catherine directed LSSO’s pioneering research, Women Lawyers: Sales and Business Development Issues in 2004 as well as LSSO’s 2008 Women Lawyers Study. She currently serves on the International Board of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA).
  • Adjunct professor at Suffolk University Law School and at George Washington University (Masters in Law Firm Management program). 
  • She frequently publishes articles and is a highly rated speaker for the Association of Legal Administrators, the Legal Marketing Association, the Legal Sales and Service Association, among others. 
  • Honors and awards Catherine has received include: Elected Fellow, College of Law Practice Management, Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, two years on the prestigious MLF 50 (Marketing the Law Firm Top 50) List, and several Legal Marketing Association Your Honor Awards

Read more about Catherine Alman MacDonagh at Legal Lean Sigma InstituteThe Legal MocktailThe, and Legal Sales and Service Organization.  


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