Join the Professional Identity Formation Conversation

We encourage you to Zoom in Thursday, January 26, at 3:00 p.m. Central to join host Robin Thorner, Assistant Dean, Office of Career Strategy, at St. Mary’s Law School, and other law faculty and staff interested in professional identity formation efforts to continue the national conversation about professional identity formation.

The work on professional identity formation aligns closely with our leadership development efforts. At Baylor Law, professional identity formation is the first of our three objectives, which are to encourage and assist law students to:

  1. Embrace their professional identity as they serve clients and society;
  2. Develop competencies and skills to succeed; and
  3. Boldly seek opportunities to make a difference in the profession, their communities, and the world.

In a post this week on the Holloran Center Professional Identity Implementation Blog (stthomas.edu), I share how our friends and colleagues at the Holloran Center continue to inform and influence our leadership work. Their scholarship and advice drew my attention to the third dimension of professional education described in Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (the “Carnegie Report”): “Professional identity formation is defined as “effective ways to engage and make their own the ethical standards, social roles, and responsibilities of the profession, grounded in the profession’s fundamental purposes.” Through those interactions, we became more committed to helping law students see themselves as having both important obligations to serve society as lawyers and incredible opportunities as leaders to make a difference in the lives of others.

Our thanks to the Holloran Center for their continued work and camaraderie! I hope you can join the next PIF conversation this Thursday, January 26, at 3:00 p.m. via Zoom.

– Leah


Lawyers Leading Higher Education

Special Guest Post By:

Patricia E. Salkin, Professor of Law and Senior VP, Academic Affairs, and Provost, Graduate and Professional Divisions,
Touro Law Center

A little-studied area about the role of lawyers in the higher education C-Suite has been highlighted in my newly released book, May it Please the Campus: Lawyers Leading Higher Education.  This multi-year examination of lawyer college and university presidents was undertaken as a Ph.D. dissertation in creativity.

Leading an institution of higher education is a demanding responsibility and one that requires a skillset that is comparable to those that successful lawyers must possess. Something significant is happening as the data shows that in each of the last three decades, the number of lawyers who have been appointed as college and university presidents has been doubling. By extrapolating the data from the first two decades of 2022, this trend not only continues, but by the end of the 2020s, it is likely that 10% of the sitting presidents of Carnegie classified institutions will be lawyers.

In addition to highlighting the skills and experiences that lawyers bring to campus leadership, the book explores the history of higher education focused on early lawyer presidents in the 1700s, the development of formal legal education, and the explosion in the number of law schools – leading to more lawyer faculty and more law deans actively engaged in higher education.  For some, creating a pathway to the presidency through a more conventional career path of advancement within the academy.  Yet, as the data reveals, a noticeable number of lawyer presidents are being tapped for these leadership opportunities with little to no prior academic experience – coming from government, the corporate world, and private law practice. 

As the list of law schools providing formal leadership training grows, supported by a fairly new AALS Section on Leadership, the opportunities for lawyers to lead in different sectors outside of the traditional law practice settings are enormous. 

May it Please the Campus, offers readers a treasure trove of data documenting the changing face of the campus presidency, and offering a glimpse into the backgrounds of lawyer leaders in higher education.  A website that hosts a blog provides additional data, stories, and news on lawyer presidents. See, https://lawyersleadinghighered.com  For example, the blog highlights John Mercer Langston, the first African American lawyer president, Frances Tarlton “Sissy” Farenthold, the first woman lawyer president, and lawyer Anthony Appel who reigned his presidency after 6 days on the job.

Please contact me with comments and suggestions for other lawyer presidents to highlight. [email protected]


Secure Your Own Mask First: Work-Life Harmony in 2023

Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First,” by Laura Gibson, the President of the State Bar of Texas, is a terrific example of wellness in practice. So much of this equation comes from ensuring that we are taking care of ourselves so that we may take care of our clients and communities. We discuss the importance of well-being at Baylor Law to help students figure out how they will keep their work and personal lives in harmony* in the practice of law. Our message is that they should use the time during law school to figure out what works for them rather than waiting until they get to a crisis. This exercise requires a great deal of self-reflection and purposeful problem-solving, but the students who do so reap the rewards in practice. “Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First” is a powerful analogy for finding harmony.

* We often hear this described as work-life balance, but we prefer the expression “work-life harmony.” See Chapter 11 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership for a more detailed discussion of the difference.


2023 AALS Annual Meeting: Leadership Events

We are getting excited about the upcoming programming at the 2023 AALS Annual Meeting! Below we have highlighted the Leadership Section’s programming and co-sponsored programming, along with some other panels that we thought you might find interesting. Hope to see you in San Diego!

Primary Leadership Section Programming:
How Teaching Leadership Can Make a Difference

Date/Time: January 7, 2023, 8:30 am – 10:10 am

Description: This year’s conference theme challenges us to think about how law schools and each of us as academics can make a difference and bring about positive change. Cultivating a leadership mindset in the next generation of lawyers is one of the most significant ways law schools can make a meaningful impact in the work around us. Leadership development is a critical part our professional responsibility and a lawyer’s greater duty to advance justice in our society. This panel will discuss the ways that leadership education in our law schools can bring about positive change in our organizations, government, and society.


April M. Barton
Organization: Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University

Erwin Chemerinsky
Organization: University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Farayi Chipungu
Organization: Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Garry W. Jenkins
Organization: University of Minnesota Law School

Angela I. Onwuachi-Willig
Organization: Boston University School of Law

Hillary A. Sale
Organization: Georgetown University Law Center

Co-Sponsored Program: Incorporating Access to Justice & Pro-Bono Across the Law School Curriculum, Section on Pro Bono and Access to Justice

Date/Time: January 5, 2023, 3:00 pm – 4:40 pm

Description: Access to justice and pro bono service can be an effective lens through which to explore any law school subject, and yet most law professors do not include them in their syllabi. This session features faculty whose courses provide students with insight into how lower-income people navigate the legal system and the ways in which that may differ from what we learn in casebooks. Attendees will leave with practical and replicable tools to integrate access to justice and pro bono service across the law school curriculum.

Other programs that involve leadership topics that you may want to attend:

        1. Clinics and Institutional Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Clinical Legal Education Section

        Date/Time: January 4, 2023, 1:00 pm – 2:40 pm

        2. Critical Leadership, Accountability, and Justice Within Organizations, Civil Rights Section and Minority Groups Joint Program

        Date/Time: January 6, 2023, 10:00 am – 11:40 am

        Description: Lawyers and the organizations they lead have a duty to care for justice. This duty is important to accomplish justice, but also to justify the legitimacy of organizations and their lawyers. This duty requires that lawyers address and demonstrate progress toward social inequities, including problems of access, equity, discrimination, and under-representation of diverse constituencies. How do lawyers work for justice inside organizations? How can lawyers leverage their organizational roles and capabilities toward justice? How can lawyers hold their institutions accountable to act authentically to advance justice? What can leaders do to enhance and effectuate justice that is not performative?

        3. How Law Schools Can Make a Difference: DEI work in the Curriculum, in the Classroom, and in the Courtroom, AALS Symposium Program

        Date/Time: January 6, 2023, 1:00 pm – 4:40 pm

        Description: Changes in ABA standards have led to more inclusive and equitable law school curricula, which in turn have significantly impacted law school faculty and administrations, the practice of law, and the judiciary. This symposium will address the changes taking place, offer practical guidance for navigating these changes, and discuss how these changes affect the judiciary and the practice of law. 

        4. The Judiciary—Making the Least Democratic Branch of Government More Respected, Less Political, Litigation Section

        Date/Time: January 6, 2023, 1:00 pm – 2:40 pm

        Description: The Judicial Branch is the least democratic branch of government. This program will focus on balancing populism, politics, and qualifications in selecting judges (appointment, election, merit screening, and confirmation hearings); periodic performance review (terms, term limits, life tenure, retention elections, impeachment); recusal and peremptory strikes; other legitimacy concerns (court-packing). How do politics, qualifications, and merit screening affect the preference for judicial appointment or judicial elections? Are term limits an effective brake on the politicization of the judiciary, or is life tenure preferable? Can stricter recusal requirements be implemented, and would failure to recuse be severe enough to justify impeachment?”

        5. What a Difference a Difference Makes: Empowering Students through Self Determination Theory, AALS Discussion Group

        Date/Time: January 7, 2023, 1:00 pm – 2:40 pm

        Description: Law students arrive at law school excited to make a difference. Through a combination of (mostly unintended) factors, law schools manage to extinguish that excitement. We will discuss how to rekindle that excitement and create a long-burning passion for making a difference. We will consider the potential of self-determination theory, which teaches us that adults learn best when they are aware of their connections to others, their own autonomy, and a sense of competence. We will discuss how much we are doing to foster these principles in all areas of our law school education and what more we could do.


        These sessions were the ones that stuck out to us in our quick review of the program. Are you speaking in a session? Which sessions are you particularly excited about? Please include these sessions in the comments below!


        Law Firm ‘Burnout Advisors’

        This article in the ABA Journal discusses law firms that are employing burnout advisors to help guide them when their attorneys are feeling overwhelmed. We applaud efforts to make sure that attorneys are not overwhelmed and are satisfied with their jobs. But what struck me as interesting is that this seems to be an exercise in emotional intelligence, relationship-building, and feedback loops through checking in with colleagues. While the firms in this article have outsourced that task, law firm leaders can also develop their own skills in these areas to gauge how their colleagues are doing and adjust on the fly rather than wait for a check-in. This is not to say that an outside advisor would not also be helpful, but a law firm leader who is in touch with his or her team will have a higher-performing team with less downtime or team members feeling unheard until the advisor comes back. It’s an interesting read that could lead to good conversations in class about the topic.

        View this post, here:




        Investing in Homegrown Leaders: Here’s How to Develop Effective Lawyer Leadership Skills

        Leadership is a teachable skill, writes Yuliya LaRoe, and it’s important that lawyers learn it. In this article, LaRoe urges law practices to invest in team members by developing their leadership skills. To that end, she outlines a five-pillar leadership program, with skills and concepts to learn in each category.


        View this post, here:



        How to have arguments that change minds- including your own

        This article about having better arguments is helpful on two fronts: civil discourse and emotional intelligence. The authors, Scott Aikin & John Casey, discuss why people have heated arguments, how to think more clearly about the positions that the speaker is putting forward, and how to engage with the other person in a way that acknowledges their beliefs and feelings. It is a refreshing, quick read that helps the reader be better prepared for the next verbal conflict. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


        View this post, here:



        Using Leadership to Teach Professional Identity Formation, Well-Being, and Diversity and Belonging.

        Newly adopted ABA Standard 303(b) reinforces the duty of law schools to help their students explore “the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices,” which are considered “foundational to successful legal practice” and fundamental to lawyers’ professional identity. Our Baylor Law Leadership Development Program was created in 2013 to provide structure to teaching law students about the lawyers’ role in society and better preparing them to serve their clients and society. These goals align with Standard 303(b) as well as the professional identity formation work occurring around the country. (See the work of the Holloran Center under the co-director of Professors Neil Hamilton and Jerry Organ).

        Our Leadership Development Program addresses two other recent amendments: ABA Standard 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). All three subjects (professional identity, bias and cultural competency, and wellness) are essential topics that need to be addressed as we prepare law students for the important work of lawyers in society. Finding all three topics in the textbook, Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, is no surprise and not an accident. With no law school textbook available when we started teaching leadership in 2013, we labored to determine what should be taught in a leadership course and program. Those three topics were recognized as fundamental to a well-rounded legal education.

        We wrote the textbook and created the Teacher’s Manual and Resources to help others create a leadership course or present a program in whatever manner makes sense within their system and culture. With this easy-to-use textbook (and teaching materials), we hope more faculty and staff will join the growing movement to better prepare students to become more effective professionals and inspire them to be difference-makers. 

        Both the textbook and our own course structure are divided into four aspects of developing leadership. Following an introduction to the concept of leadership, we ask students to look internally first before turning the leadership focus outward. The course is formatted as follows:

        • Part I – Overview of Leadership
          Initial sessions introduce students to what we mean by “leadership” – a process whereby an individual has an influence on another (or a group) to achieve a common goal. Leadership is the opportunity to help and serve no matter what title or position one holds in an organization. Students should also recognize that lawyers in our society hold positions of leadership as they advise clients and organizations, and as they serve in their communities. Leadership is part of our professional identity. For materials relevant to the Standard 303(b) changes, see Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership Preface, Chapter 2 (Why Lawyers Should Study Leadership).
        • Part II – Leadership of Self: Growing into Leadership
          Students are guided through a process of self-discovery and assessment to gain a better sense of who they are and what type of lawyer and leader they want to be. Topics covered include characteristics of leadership (traits, skills, and competencies, including those traditionally developed in law school); growth mindset; grit and resilience; feedback and learning through failure; well-being; integrity and character; preparedness and setting goals. For materials relevant to Standard 508(b) changes, see Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, Chapter 11 (The Importance of Well-Being: Thriving in the Legal Profession).
        • Part III – Leadership with Others: Effective Group Dynamics
          To be effective lawyers and leaders, students need to develop their ability to work and interact effectively with others. Topics in this part include emotional intelligence; relationships and influence; strategic communication; diversity and inclusion; unconscious bias and cultural competency; effective management; and working within legal organizations. For materials relevant to Standard 303(c) changes, see Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, Chapter 17 (Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Intelligence).
        • Part IV – Leadership within Community: Service and Impact
          Lawyers are well suited, and expected, to use their legal training and other talents and gifts to serve society. We want to encourage students to seek opportunities to serve in ways that are meaningful to them and that can have a significant impact on others. Students are challenged to consider what legacy they want to leave.  Chapters in this part can be used to emphasize leadership for positive change and encourage law students to use their legal skills to effectuate a desired goal.

        This textbook is designed to make leadership and professional formation easy to implement and teach. Each chapter can be used as a module for stand-alone programs or incorporated into other courses. An abundant library of teaching materials (notes, exercises, PowerPoint slides, etc.) is available to accompany class sessions and to complement presentations.

        To access the professor resources for this title, you will need a validated professor account on Aspen Publlishing. If you do not yet have a validated professor account, you may register at AspenPublishing.com/my-account/register. Account validation may take 1-2 business days. Once validated, you may log into your account using your own personal login, go to the relevant product page and scroll down to access the Professor Resources.

        Thank you for your efforts to prepare and inspire law students to boldly seek opportunities to make a difference in our profession, their communities, and the world. Please let us know how we can help you!


        Women in Law Firm Leadership Are Changing The Profession

        The legal world is becoming more diverse, but it still has a long way to go. Here, Nick Gaffney interviews Trinae Hall, Kelsey McCann, and Kim Bonnar— all women in leadership roles within the legal industry— about their experiences as women leading in what remains a male-dominated space.

        View this post, here: