Academia, Leadership, Uncategorized

The Top Three Things We’ve Learned in Developing and Teaching a Leadership Development Course

 By Leah Teague

Leadership Development Syllabus Series • Part 1: Introduction

One of our goals for this blog is to advance the conversation of teaching leadership in law schools. We offer this blog-post series about specific parts of our Leadership Engagement and Development Course to hopefully spark ideas and further conversation. We begin with the top three things we’ve learned over the last five years teaching this course.

First, engaging the students calls for more experiential learning and effective use of guest speakers.

The first year, we used a more traditional pedagogy, assigned heavy readings and relied on a Socratic method to engage the students with the readings. We quickly discovered this material called for a different approach if we want students to internalize the topics and embrace it as a journey of self-discovery and growth.

We knew bringing in speakers would be beneficial. Our guest speakers are assigned to cover specific topics and asked to provide context to the concepts. They help the students see application of the concepts within a real-world professional setting. Students more easily envision themselves in those situations someday, and they connect with those lawyer leaders.

In the beginning, we scheduled guests near the end of the course. Over the next few years, we experimented with how many guest speakers and when. We found it best to have the two of us lead off the first week with an introduction to leadership and an overview of the class. After that, we try to bring a speaker for one of the two meetings each week. We purposefully invite speakers to cover specific topics. We recognized that is a lot of guest speakers so we set the syllabus early. We send the syllabus and assigned reading to each speaker so that he or she can see where we started, what we’ve covered, and how his or her topic fits into the overall picture. From there, each speaker chooses how to cover the topic and work his or her personality and stories into the material. Students like this weekly balance and they enjoy hearing from practicing lawyers and leaders. It is also a great way to connect with alumni!

Early on we shifted to a more experiential approach. Even during the sessions when we simply lead a discussion on a topic, we want the students to “struggle” with the material at least to a certain degree to create ownership of the material. We also constantly relate it to real-world situations. For example, after a discussion on dealing with the media, we run a mock press conference where students either assume the role of a media correspondent or the general counsel for a company in crisis. The students apply what they’ve learned in a controlled environment.

Second, the best class sessions include meaningful discussion among the students.

As noted above, we started with a more traditional pedagogy but the students were not engaged in thoughtful interaction. As a result, many students struggled to internalize the material and they could not identify how the information would be useful in the future. In other words, we were ineffective in leading them on a personal journey of self-discovery and growth.

Now, we are mindful of the need to include plenty of opportunity for students to actively engage with the material during class and after. If we don’t have time for, or if a topic doesn’t lend itself to, an exercise, we involved the class in small and large group discussions. We have a better balance of techniques leading to much better results. We hope we are helping them establish a life-long practice of intellectual curiosity and creative problem solving.

Third, journaling is essential.

When we created the class, neither of us believed in the power of journaling. With that said, since we did not believe that an exam was appropriate for this class, we required a journal to ensure that our students were getting through the material and completing the assignments. That first year, we did not see their journal until the end of the class.

We have seen the light! We now firmly believe that journaling is critical to a student’s development and growth. We tailor the journal prompts after each class to connect with the conversation in class and desired outcomes. Students must post journal entries to their personal Box file before the next class so that we can review. This enables us to determine if they are learning what was intended and allows us to make adjustments as appropriate. It provides the students a mechanism for wrestling with concepts and exploring the application to their lives. We hope our students create a habit of continual self-assessment and development.

-LT

Academia, Leadership, Uncategorized

Baylor Law’s Leadership Fellows Program

Baylor Law’s Leadership Development Program continually strives to prepare students to become exemplary leaders, both in the legal profession, and in their communities. We make a concerted effort to find ways to increase student engagement with our Leadership Development Program. One way we’ve done so is through the development of the Baylor Law Leadership Fellows designation.

Leadership Fellows are Baylor Law students that have met the strenuous requirements of the Leadership Development Program. In order to earn the designation, a Baylor Law student must:

  • Take the Leadership Engagement and Development (LEAD) class and complete the personal development and team-building course (the Baylor Ropes Challenge Course).
  • Complete of a minimum of 23 hours of Professional Development Programming.
  • Serve as an officer of a Baylor Law student organization for a minimum of three quarters. While serving as an officer, the student must perform a minimum of 25 hours of service related to activities of the organization.
  • Complete of a minimum 25 hours of community service.
  • Serve as an intern for a charitable or community organization’s director or management team, or as an extern for a legislator, working a minimum of 45 hours.

The number of students who have received designation as a Leadership Fellow has been limited, and we are currently seeking new ways to engage with our students earlier in their Law School careers to involve them more fully in the Leadership Development Program. We hope to report back to you soon about our efforts.

Our most recent designee is Taylor A. McConnell (JD ’19). From our news story:

McConnell has been a dedicated volunteer at the Baylor Law Veterans Clinic, where he assisted at the legal advice clinics, drafted wills for Central Texas veterans, and has represented several clients in litigation. He served as the President of the Baylor Law Military & Veterans Legal Society and was Secretary for LEAD Counsel. He won the Spring 2019 Bob and Karen Wortham “Mad Dog” Competition and received both the Best Speaker and Best Advocate Awards in the Fall ’18 Dawson and Sodd Moot Court Competition. In addition to volunteering for the Veterans Clinic, McConnell volunteered with Baylor Law’s Trial Advocacy Clinic, helping juveniles at their initial detention hearings in district court. Working with Baylor Law Veterans Clinic Director Josh Borderud, McConnell assisted the 74th District Court in developing the first Veterans Treatment Court in McLennan County.

Does your law school have a designation or award for students who complete a specific leadership program or have demonstrated specific leadership characteristics during their law school career? If so… share your program with us in the comments.

Academia, Leadership, Uncategorized

In Case You Missed It…

Professor Neil Hamilton, University of St. Thomas School of Law, has written a fantastic article about developing law student teamwork and leadership skills – to be published soon in the Hofstra Law Review, and available now on SSRN.

Here’s the abstract:

Skills of teamwork and team leadership are foundational for many types of law practice, but how much instruction, supervised experience, assessment, and guided reflection on these two skills did each reader as a law student receive? Law schools’ formal curricula, in the author’s experience, historically have not given much attention to the development of these skills. There also has been little legal scholarship on how most effectively to foster law students’ growth toward later stages of teamwork and team leadership. Legal education must do better.

What is the next step for the 58 law schools that have adopted a learning outcome on teamwork or team leadership (plus those that will later adopt this type of outcome)? In Part II, this article outlines the next steps that competency-based education requires for a law school to implement a teamwork and team leadership learning outcome. In Part III, the article presents a stage development model for law student teamwork and team leadership skills. Part IV explains how to use the stage development model in the curriculum so that students can understand the entire range of stages of development of teamwork and team leadership. The students can then self-assess their own current stage of development, and faculty and staff and a student’s team members can use the model to observe and assess a student’s current stage of development and give feedback to help the student grow to the next stage. Reflecting on self-assessment, teamwork experiences, and others’ feedback, a student can create a written professional development plan to grow to the next stage of teamwork and team leadership and get coaching on the plan. The student can also assess the evidence the student has to demonstrate his or her level of development to potential employers.

For a link to Professor Hamilton’s article, click here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3417396.

Way to go, Neil!

-LT and SLR

Academia, Leadership

How Do We Distinguish Ethics, Professionalism and Leadership?

 By Leah Teague 

As we work to establish leadership development as a recognized academic pursuit in legal education, we are met with questions of definition, distinction and purpose. An often-asked question, even among us who are pursuing the study of leadership in the context of the legal profession, is what is the difference between professional responsibility, professionalism (also referred to as professional identity, formation or development) and leadership. This is a start. I have no doubt my thoughts will continue to take shape as we continue conversations and work.

Ethics/Professional Responsibility

As lawyers we must abide by a code of professional responsibility. The outer boundaries of unactionable conduct is set by principles established in the code. Law students learn these rules as minimums – that which they MUST do or not do to avoid scrutiny for a violation and to avoid an appearance of impropriety. Students are tested on these rules. Law firms have committees that consider ethical issues and make decisions for their lawyers. Bar associations have committees for reviewing rules, advising lawyers and taking action when lawyers step outside the boundaries. Self-regulation of lawyers’ conduct is essential to maintaining our independence and our privileged status with powers and opportunities.

But as we often discuss in law school, or at least we should, the code of professional responsibility will not determine who you are as a lawyer, what type of cases or clients you will represent, how you will practice law, or how you will be remembered.

Professional Development/Professionalism/ Formation/ Identity

What does it mean to be a member of a profession that has a rich history of status and privilege earned by rigorous intellectual pursuit and legal training?  Here are some of the questions raised as we try to define our professional identity and to better prepare our students to enter the profession that has long been considered a noble pursuit, but also a profession that is perhaps less favored and respected in recent decades:

  • Who are we as lawyers?
  • What is our role in society?
  • What does the public expect of us?

And on an individual basis, we ask our students to consider what kind of lawyer they want to be.

With our legal training & law degree we have an obligation to serve our clients and society.  From the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble: A Lawyer’s Responsibilities, “[a] lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.”

As Alexis de Tocqueville recognized in the 1830s, the role of lawyers as keepers of the rule of law and the special training of lawyers as problem solvers and advocates ensured for us “a separate station in society.” When he labeled lawyers as the “American Aristocracy,” he used that title in the European tradition from which he came – where lords were responsible for their charges. The privilege of wealth and power carried with it a privileged duty to protect. For American lawyers, our charge is our democracy.  Our special status arose because lawyers were viewed as more than mere providers of legal services. We have an obligation to serve not only our clients but also society.

As lawyers, more is expected of us by the public. And by that I mean, with the acquisition of our privilege – law degree and legal training – the public has an expectation of us that obligates us to live up to a higher set of principles and standards than a citizen who is not a member of our profession.

As I tell our students during orientation, the Latin root of profession is professieum – to make a public declaration or to take an oath. When I ask them to name the three vocations considered to be the original “professions,” it does not take them long to name “doctors, lawyers and clergy.” We then discuss what common attributes these three share. Answers include “education and training;” “expectation to live an exemplary live” or at least “higher expectations;” “less forgiveness for human error;” and this is one of my favorites, “doctors take care of the body, clergy minister to the soul, and lawyers take care of live in a community – rights, liberties and property interests.”  What becomes clear to them through the discussion is that our privilege comes with expectations and obligations to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting of our noble profession, which includes service.     

Leadership

Leadership development should go beyond a focus on defining lawyers’ behavior and actions in terms of expectation and obligation to serve clients and communities. Lawyers have the opportunity to guide and influence clients and serve in their communities. Lawyers are leaders and as such that is part of our professional identity. Yet leadership development requires a different type of attention and training than professional development. Leadership development should start with professional development, i.e. self-awareness and self-assessment – the “who am I as a lawyer?” But then we must move to looking at the opportunities we have as lawyers to have a positive influence and impact on society.

Throughout history, lawyers have played a critical role in shaping stable, peaceful and prosperous societies. Leadership seeks to develop lawyers who not only have mastery of self but also are inspired to make a difference. Our legal training, our law license and professional status afford us daily opportunities to influence individuals, behaviors, transactions, organizations, communities and society. Now more than ever, we need lawyers to recognize not only our obligation to serve society, but also opportunities afforded to us because of our professional status and education and then to use our position and training to make a positive difference in the lives of their clients and communities.  We, as the teachers, coaches and mentors to the next generations of lawyers, need to do a better job of equipping them and inspiring them to rise up and seek those opportunities to positively impact society.

-LT

Academia, Leadership

Call for Papers

The American Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Leadership has announced a Call for Papers from which one additional presenter will be selected for the section’s program, “Learning from Lawyer-Leaders Throughout the Profession,” to be held during the AALS 2020 Annual Meeting in Washington on Friday, January 3, 2020 at 1:30pm.

For more information and to submit, view the Call for Papershere.

Information about the Section on Leadership’s 2020 program and co-sponsored sessions is available on the AALS Section on Leadership website, here.

Persuasion

Movies

By Lanie Bennett, Baylor Law Student

Legal movies offer an entertaining look into the life of an attorney.

Most of these films center around trial advocacy and the invigorating practice of passionately advocating on behalf of your client. While these movies often provide only entertainment, they can also serve as teaching tools to law students.

Professor Brian Serr uses scenes from legal movies to indoctrinate incoming 1Q students at Baylor Law School. Professor Serr gives a presentation at orientation that involves playing a slideshow with clips from popular legal movies. Professor Serr uses this time to really show the new law students valuable lessons from each of the clips that will carry with them through both law school and into practice.

Through these clips, Professor Serr illustrates persistence, a servant-minded commitment to justice, attention to detail, and passion. Tom Cruise’s interrogation scene in A Few Good Men illustrates an attorney’s need to be persistent while seeking the truth. Tom Hanks describing his love of the law in Philadelphia demonstrates the need for lawyers to have a servant-minded commitment to justice. Both My Cousin Vinny and Legally Blonde provide examples of an attorney’s need to pay attention to detail. Both Joe Pesci and Reese Witherspoon catch on to a single sentence that a witness makes while on the stand and centers their (ultimately successful) defense on it. Maximilian Schell’s closing statement in Judgement at Nuremberg emphasizes the passion that attorneys must have while zealously representing their clients. Finally, Gregory Peck displays a phenomenal performance during his iconic closing statement in To Kill a Mockingbird.

… these films, and many more not included, serve as both entertainment and an embodiment of the traits that a successful lawyer must have.

Lanie Bennett, Baylor Law Student

All of these films, and many more not included, serve as both entertainment and an embodiment of the traits that a successful lawyer must have. Using movie clips to introduce these necessary characteristics could engage the audience, namely law students, and pique their interest in becoming the best possible advocate for their future clients.

Leadership, Uncategorized

Texas Capitol Trip

Victoria S. Feather, Baylor Law J.D. '17
Research Assistant

Recently, Stephen Rispoli and I escorted eleven first-year Baylor Law students to Austin, Texas, to spend a day at the Texas State Capitol observing the 86th Legislature in session. This trip was made possible due to the generosity of Baylor Lawyer and legendary Texas lobbyist, Joe B. Allen (or, as his friends call him, simply “Joe B.”).

Baylor Law Students with Joe B. Allen, J.D. ‘67

The purpose of the trip was to expose law students to potential leadership positions through public service. As they learned during the trip, leadership occurs at all levels in the Texas Legislature – from the Members themselves to each of their staff members. Each person plays a critical role in our state’s government and many of the students’ eyes were opened to the possibility of using their law degree in this public sector.

Students Observing the House in Session From the Gallery

The students began the day by observing both the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate in session. While in the House gallery, as they observed members debate and discuss the Education bill on the House floor, students acquired a greater understanding of the legislative process and the role that public finance laws play in matters affecting public education. Students also had the opportunity to engage in discussions with various Senators and Representatives.

Students with Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, J.D. ’81

One of our current students, Sarah Beth Toben, J.D. ’20, is interning for Senator Kirk Watson this session. Sarah Beth said that she has realized how important “service” is to leadership from her experience with Senator Watson. “It is one thing to be an elected official, but it shows true leadership to day in and day out serve your constituents. That is what I have learned through working with Senator Watson. His constituents love him and it is because he takes the time to listen to them and tries his best ensure that their voices are heard.”

Students with Texas State Senator Larry Taylor, B.B.A ’82
Students with Texas State Senator Larry Taylor, B.B.A ’82

To round out their view of life at (or near) the Texas Capitol, they also met with lawyers from the Texas Attorney General’s office to learn about the various matters that the AG’s office oversees and how lawyers are involved behind the scenes in many facets of Texas life.

Students at the Texas AG’s office with Joe B. and Kelsey Warren, J.D. ’15

After the trip, students were asked to write a short paragraph about what they learned and their thoughts from the legislative adventure. Here are a few excerpts:

  • Overall, I loved the trip. I consider myself very well informed when it comes to politics, but I learned more than I ever had before about the hands-on activities of the House and Senate. Everyone we met was kind and patient in discussing their work and experiences with us.
  • I consider it an absolute privilege that I was able to attend such a historic process, the effects of which will echo into the future for literally generations to come. I have become interested in the future the legislature has created for this next generation of children who will benefit from it.
  • I personally loved the trip to Austin, and I learned a lot about how Texas politics works. I was able to take part in many great exchanges of differing policy and political ideas.
  • This entire process that I was able to witness was illuminating and inspiring.
  • Without this trip, I may have found it easy to sit idly by behind monolithic political tenants. Now, however, I see the people behind the curtain: people driven to benefit their community both now, and later. The legislature appears to be the stewards of the future. Without strong leadership, the stewards can let infinite ruin blaze across Texas. With strong leadership, the stewards can let the fruits of prosperity blossom.

We greatly appreciate Joe B. for sharing his vast knowledge of Texas history, politics, and the legislature with our students. But more importantly, he shared his story – initially getting involved in the Legislature to change a minor provision on behalf of a local government client, to finding he liked the work, to ending up working on (and positively influencing) most of the local government legislation for several decades. Having this guide to the famous halls of the Texas Capitol was a memorable experience for the students. They got to hear first-hand stories of how a law degree served Joe B., and Texas, well. (To learn more about Joe B., please read this great story from the Houston Press: https://www.houstonpress.com/news/its-joe-bs-world-6567749. He has also been using his skills and connections to help Houston recover after Harvey. He recently received the Wild Life Award by Houston Wilderness: https://www.baylor.edu/law/news.php?action=story&story=208868.)

Students outside the North Entrance of the Texas Capitol

We believe that this trip was highly beneficial to our students. Subsequent conversations with some of them indicate that they may be re-thinking their career trajectories based on that trip. Even for those that don’t, I suspect that this trip broadened their horizons, showed them the power of a law degree, and how it can be wielded to help others.

If you’re interested in learning more about the trip or would like to discuss the logistics of organizing it, we would be happy to visit with you or send you the schedule from our day at the Capitol.

-VSF

Academia, Leadership, Uncategorized

Learning from UTK Law’s Leadership Development for Lawyers Conference

 By Stephen Rispoli  

On April 4th and 5th, Leah and I were in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Law’s Leadership Conference. Doug Blaze, Dean Emeritus at UTK, put on an excellent conference highlighting the good work that law schools are doing around the country in leadership programs and courses.

The program was well designed, the flow was good, and the speakers were inspiring. Beth Ford, Director of the Federal Defender Services of Eastern Tennessee, already wrote a piece for Doug’s blog, Leading as Lawyers, and it is a great recap of some of the highlights of the program. Here’s a link: https://leadingaslawyers.blog/2019/04/18/reflections-on-the-leadership-roundtable/.

Like Beth, we came away with a lot of new things to implement at Baylor Law and some wonderful ideas to consider. Here were some of our key takeaways from the conference:

  • How can we improve the framing of leadership at Orientation for our students? Should it be through a session or through an immersive experience? Although we haven’t made a final decision, this is something we are turning our attention to improving.
  • The whole building can be more involved in the leadership development process. Not just faculty, but each department – admissions, career development, alumni relations, pro bono clinics, externships, etc. – can play a role in helping law students understand their leadership potential and reach it.
  • Tagging other courses in the curriculum that have leadership components, such as ADR and Professional Responsibility.

In short, Doug’s conference will be a hard one to follow. As we are planning our own 2020 leadership conference, what we learned at UTK will shape our program and what we hope each attendee takes home.

-SLR

Academia, Leadership, Uncategorized

Professor Liz Fraley’s Fall 2018 Commencement Speech

By Leah Teague & Stephen Rispoli 

Hearing the insightful and inspiring speech given by Professor Counseller at the Winter 2019 commencement, got us thinking about the speech Professor Fraley made at the Fall 2018 commencement ceremony.

Photo of Associate Professor of Law Liz Fraley Speaking at Baylor Law's Commencement, Fall 2018
Associate Professor of Law Liz Fraley Speaking at Baylor Law’s Commencement, Fall 2018

 Professor Fraley gave a less than conventional commencement speech, addressing the topics of failure and fear. She began by recasting failure not as a character flaw, but as part of life– that failing is proof that we are trying. She told the graduates, “Social media paints this glossy picture of a life where no one fails, no one doubts, no one struggles, no one even has a pimple, but that is not real.” Failure does not mean that you cannot succeed, but rather that you were trying something daring in order to make a change. “For a firework to light up the night sky, it has to explode. And so, too, will you need to spontaneously combust on occasion to see how bright a light you can be in this world.”

Professor Fraley told the graduates a story about the first case she lost. She had been on a streak of winning cases and thought she was invincible. Representing a defendant in a case with bad facts for her clients, an East Texas jury reminded her that no lawyer can win them all. She then told the graduates that she was feeling sorry for herself but had to get up the next day and had to go right back to work. At her first meeting the next day with an expert witness, she saw a daily quote calendar on his desk. “The quote for that day was, ‘success is not about how high you bounce, but high how you bounce back after you hit bottom.’” Professor Fraley told the graduates that she asked if she could have that page, he graciously agreed, and she kept it taped inside her top desk drawer as a reminder about what failure means and what success is really about.

Professor Fraley talked about how fear is failure’s best friend; that fear is there to tell you failure may always be around the next corner. Fear is there to make us doubt ourselves and think that we cannot do it, whatever “it” is. Knowledge and fear of failing comes because we care, and we dare. She credited Nelson Mandela for three principles she uses as guides for her life: 1) Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it, 2) the greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall, and 3) there is no passion to be found in playing small.

Professor Fraley told the graduates that “Out of this willingness to take risk and to fail and to fear comes growth.” Professor Fraley spoke to the graduates about watching them in class where they had to face fear and failure every day.  She noted, “you came back for more day after day. I don’t know whether you were brave or whether you were too afraid not to, and it doesn’t matter.” Professor Fraley left the graduates with a few final words of wisdom. “Fail mightily. Laugh at yourself when you do. Get back up and fail and laugh again and embrace the glorious mess that is being alive.”

Professor Fraley’s speech is embedded below:

-LT & SLR

Academia, Leadership

Why do we not have more leadership development programs in law school?

By Stephen Rispoli

Law is a Leadership Degree

For starters, we must recognize that as lawyers, as professionals, we are expected to be leaders in society.  “A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.[1]” We have an obligation to serve not only our clients but also society. Our legal training and professional status afford us daily opportunities to influence individuals, organizations and communities.  

In many ways, legal training is implicitly leadership development training. Faculty are teaching and modeling leadership in the classroom and beyond; however, we are not teaching leadership intentionally. We must help our students understand that their professional obligation is to serve their clients and their communities. Their professional opportunities will enable them to lead and to be change-makers. If we see ourselves as problem solvers and trusted advisors instead of deal killers and hired guns, maybe the public will see us that way too.

We can start developing lawyer-leaders intentionally by reframing the way we think about leadership development training. Law faculties are equipped to participate. Because they are lawyers, they have served in a variety of leadership roles, including as professors in the classroom. Leadership goes on every day, in every classroom. Faculty can more intentionally model leadership and help students see themselves as leaders. Students, from observing our interactions and actions, learn how to address colleagues and classmates, how to treating others with respect, and what it means to be a professional. But faculty can also encourage one of the most fundamental aspects of leadership – intellectual curiosity – as a way of life. Law professors can equip students with knowledge, skills and strategies that will help them be successful in dealing with, and leading, people and organizations.

The majority of law school applicants provide personal statements that express their desire to go to law school because they want to make a difference, to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, or to make our communities better. Don’t we owe it to them to equip them with more than just the ability to critically analyze an issue? Don’t we want to make sure we set them up for success, not only in the practice of law but also in the many other arenas in which they will serve?


[1] The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble: A Lawyer’s Responsibilities,