On top of the traditional busyness that comes with starting a new academic year, we know many face difficulties during these challenging times. To all of you, we send you our heartfelt greetings and best wishes!
As you resume your work preparing law students to be problem-solvers and influencers, please continue your efforts to increase leadership development activities at your school. For August, we challenge you to try the following:
For readers in the legal academy: Help at least two colleagues find ways to incorporate leadership development in their classes, programs, or other work within the school. Offer specific, concrete ideas or exercises to facilitate their efforts.
For readers who do not hold a full-time position in a law school: Inquire about leadership programming at your alma mater or one with which you have a relationship and offer to help. Feel free to use some of the modules and examples from Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership for a guest lecture, a CLE offering, or a professional development program.
We believe leadership development is helpful and essential, and leadership programs are gaining traction nationally. Please note that the ABA has proposed amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education which impact lawyer leadership. Three important topics may become mandatory for law schools, and they are fundamental topics in well-developed leadership programs. The proposed amendments to Standards 206, 303, and 508 will be voted on at the February 2022 meeting of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. If adopted, the following topics will be required in legal education:
- Diversity and inclusion, (now specifically including bias and cross-cultural competency);
- professional identity including lawyers’ special obligations to clients and society (which includes topics such as ethics, influence, and leadership); and
- student well-being.
In our opinion, these three concepts must be addressed in leadership development courses or programs as they enrich any study of leadership. Deborah Rhode’s inclusion of these concepts in the Introduction and Conclusion of her Leadership for Lawyers textbook reveals her focus upon these concepts. We address these subjects both in individual chapters and woven in discussions throughout our textbook, Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership. To explain the relevance, the language of the proposed amendments to Standards 206, 303, and 508 are included in our Teacher’s Manual (See pages 3, 18, 81, and 124, available as part of the Professor Resources) at the beginning of these three chapters:
Chapter 17: Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Intelligence
Chapter 1: What is Leadership?
Chapter 11: The Importance of Well-Being: Thriving in the Legal Profession.
This is NOT a sales pitch for our book. Our primary goal is to help as you advocate for, create, or enhance leadership development programming at your school. Whether a school or program chooses to adopt our book has nothing to do with that goal. The “leadership team” (Stephen, Liz, Pat, and me) at Baylor Law stands ready to work with other law schools fully embracing the need to develop lawyers who are not only competent practitioners in their chosen career pursuits but also well-rounded professionals who seek to be positive influencers among their family, friends, and clients and to have a meaningful impact on their communities.
We want to be a resource for – and learn from – others. Please let us know how we can work together to make leadership development programs, and legal education generally, better. That IS the reason we wrote the textbook. It was designed not only for use in leadership courses, but also so that individual chapters can be used as modules in orientation, professional identity programs, clinics, academic support programs, career development and student success centers, and any other courses or programs with the goal of better equipping our students for success in their future role as difference makers.
To read the full version of the proposed amendments to ABA Standards 206, 303, and 508, we direct you to the August 16, 2021, Memo from the Standards Committee to the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The Memo eventually should be posted in the Notes and Comments Section of the ABA website. For now, Dean Paul Caren posted the Memo on his TaxProf Blog at ABA Standards Committee Approves Anti-Racism, Bias Training as New Accreditation Standards for Law Schools.
We note that the proposed amendments are not without critics. We share concerns about the lack of attention to the assessment of the effectiveness of any new training. But we are encouraged by the work of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, and its Co-Directors, Professors Neil Hamilton and Jerry Organ, who are leading the national effort to help law schools develop and adopt assessment tools in the form of stage development rubrics. Effective use of such rubrics can help law schools not only satisfy compliance with ABA Standards but also be more intentional about developing law students who are better prepared for the obligations they will assume as practitioners, professionals, and leaders.
We wish you a great start to the new academic year!