Academia, Leadership

How My Thinking About Leadership Development For Law Students Has Changed

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By Leah Teague

When I first pitched the idea of creating a leadership development program to our faculty, I focused the need for such a program because we know our Baylor Lawyers are going to serve as leaders in their communities and in organizations. So, shouldn’t we law schools better prepare them for this important role in society? Shouldn’t all law schools incorporate these skills into our core curriculum? As I discussed the concept with faculty and alumni, I got pushback from that, which required me to rethink why I thought it was so vitally important for today’s law students. Then I realized the topics covered in leadership development programming also help each one of us to be a more effective lawyer and more valuable employee. The skill sets and mindsets are advantageous for both roles.

As we think about how to most effectively teach and train this generation of law students, we’re focusing more and more on many different aspects: stress management, grit, resilience, and ability to accept feedback constructively in a healthy manner. All of these are essential parts of leadership development and are not matters that have been part of the law school curriculum or programming in the past.

Perhaps you have heard someone say leaders are born, not made. Perhaps you feel that way. We won’t dispute that not all of us will be THE leader of an organization. Who rises to the top or hired in as the leader of an organization is influenced by many variables – some (or most) may be out of your control. However, one of the aspects of the leadership development work we do is recognizing that all of us have the opportunity to influence, impact and affect those around us from whatever position we occupy and whatever relationships we create. Once we recognize that leadership development is about our own individual journey to improve and expand our abilities then we can get down to the business of growing! There is always room to grow and improve. The characteristics we are born with don’t define us completely unless we let them.

… One of the aspects of the leadership development work we do is recognizing that all of us have the opportunity to influence, impact and affect those around us from whatever position we occupy and whatever relationships we create.

Leah Teague

Students in a leadership development program are collectively going through a journey of self-discovery, assessment, and growth in an environment that allows them the freedom to think about who they want to be and to have some guidelines in place that will help them stay true to that path. Every law graduate will be better equipped for the challenges they will face because they worked on developing skills, vision, and a moral compass that will facilitate their success and enhance their ability to make a difference in the world.

-LT