In the Image of Atticus

In the Image of Atticus

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When Mark Powers thinks of leadership, one name comes to mind: Atticus Finch. A paragon of honor, Finch is the courageous lawyer in Harper Lee’s classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

So, in 1989, when Powers founded a company offering specialized business consultation unique to attorneys, he chose the name he found most suitable…

And Atticus was reborn.

“(Atticus Finch) stood for doing what’s right, integrity, honesty and justice — values that are important to us, and more importantly to our clients,” said Powers, president and co-founder of Atticus, a consulting firm located in Mount Dora. “He is a character with whom they can associate.”

The consulting firm specializes in coaching, support and accountability programs to individual attorneys and law firm. In short, the firm is filling a need.

“Attorneys increased competition in recent years,” said Shawn McNalis, co-founder and curriculum director at Atticus. “Law schools in the United States produce about 40,000 new attorneys each year. There’s a lot of need; attorneys work long hours, and need help with time management, decision-making, etc.”

Tailoring the consultation to the type of industry is what makes Atticus unique from other consulting firms, she said.

“Not that many people were combining coaching skills with training and consulting for professionals,” McNalis said. “We’re one of the first firms to do that and to create a structure of accountability to help our clients implement what we teach.”

The consulting firm is made up of business professionals with various backgrounds ranging from accounting and finance to military to religion. Atticus trains and certifies these professionals as practice advisers who consult with clients.

The firm currently employs 14 practice advisers and three affiliated advisers. One soon-to-be adviser is in training, Powers said.

Their goal is to help increase gross revenues and personal incomes, reduce stress and the number of hours spent in the office, develop career satisfaction and allow more time for family and personal interests.

Before starting Atticus in 1989, Powers was chief executive officer of Criticom Monitoring Services, based in Longwood. Prior to that, he was a corporate manager at Tie Communications in Connecticut.

As a former chief executive officer, Powers knows firsthand the need for specificity when it comes to business advice, and is glad to offer services to those in need.

“I hired a business coach very early on, not my industry, but someone that was from a larger company and could guide me,” Powers said. “But not someone that understood my business fully, it was never there for me. To think that you could have a coach that knows your business, inside and out, specializes in nothing but your profession, and can guide and direct you through the maze of business problems—that would have been great to have. It didn’t exist then, but that is what we do for law firms now.”

After 25 years in business, Atticus advisers have trained more than 10,000 attorneys through various coaching programs, instilling values such as leadership and helping the attorneys find balance in their professional and personal lives.

Cammie Hauser, a practice adviser at Atticus for more than 10 years, said the founders emulate the company’s namesake through their profound leadership skills.

“I really liked the idea of helping business owners,” she said. “And the fact that Atticus focuses on a niche really is a great business model. It’s great because Mark Powers really exemplifies leadership and the company benefits both internally and externally because of it.”

One reason Atticus has been so successful with its coaching programs is because many of the advisers have “been there” themselves, Hauser said.

“Leaders in business, in law firms or at Atticus can either accelerate growth or stifle the organization,” Powers said. “Most small businesses take on the ‘personality’ of the founders. If they are vulnerable, trusting, open, self-aware, curious and driven, the organization will reflect those elements. And the opposite is true. At Atticus, because we have to teach, coach and train, we have to walk the talk. Meaning we have to study, adjust, change and learn, just like our clients. We don’t ask them to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves.”