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Ways To Promote Pro Bono and Public Service

By Stephen Rispoli

April is National Volunteer Month. To celebrate, this month’s focus is service. The calling as lawyers to be servant leaders is needed now more than ever. We spend considerable time helping our law students develop their professional identities. Service should be a significant component. As our first post in this series, we hope to collect and share information about how law schools promote pro bono and public service.

At Baylor Law, we recently hosted our annual Student Awards Ceremony, where we recognized our students who have gone above and beyond in their pro bono service. We encourage students to engage in service during law school by recognizing them for the number of hours volunteered or their contributions in specific programs, such as the Veterans Clinic. Recognition in the Pro Bono and Public Service Program starts at 50 hours and builds up to 225+ hours, at which point the student is recognized at graduation as a Public Interest Fellow (as long as the student has also completed some specific public interest focused coursework).

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!

We would love to see other examples of ways to encourage future lawyers to make service an important part of their professional formation. Please tell us how you encourage service at your law school.

  1. Does your law school have a mandatory or voluntary program?
  2. Either way, what do you do at your school to recognize law students who have gone above and beyond?
  3. Do you give awards or certificates?
  4. Do you hold an awards ceremony?

Please share in the comments section or by direct email to Stephen_Rispoli@Baylor.edu. Of course, the comments will be available to everyone, but we will compile the results at the end of the month and share them in a follow-up post on this blog to synthesize the information.

– SLR

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Addition and Subtraction: The New Math of Professional Development

By Liz Fraley

During a recent trip to Spain, I noticed how old and new meshed in the towns and cities of the country. Ancient, cobbled streets housed modern shops; beautiful facades from centuries past contained modern kitchens and baths courtesy of IKEA. Even those structures which stood intact had eroded with the passage of time, cannons, and pigeons. It struck me that this process of addition and subtraction permeates our lives, particularly in our professional formation. We often focus on what we need to add to our resumes, our skill sets, and our professional lives, and these new acquisitions can play a valuable role in developing professionally. We need continuing education as lawyers to maintain our skills and our licenses. We need to tackle new tasks and learn new law to help new clients. We need experience to be effective lawyers and leaders.

I think we may be less intentional about subtraction as a crucial part of the professional formation equation. To become wise counsel, we must become observers of life, recognizing those traits that lead to wholeness and being willing to let go of those traits and habits that erode us. Subtraction can take many forms: letting go of the need to control what we cannot; setting healthy boundaries regarding our time and relationships; acknowledging that we will not always win and that perhaps, we should not always win in the legal setting. Eroding the need to be perfect and to be right often feels wrong to those of us who have been the gold star getters of life. Remember gold stars? Those little magic signs that we were the best? I still remember the specific adhesive taste on the back of the gold stars I licked and put on countless charts during my life. But a relentless quest for achievement and perfection often elbows out authenticity because no one is on top and right and perfect all the time.

As teachers and mentors to our students, we can help with their professional formation when they observe in us the ability to be wrong, to rise from setbacks, and to acknowledge that failure is part of the profession. When we allow that erosion of perfection to happen, what is left may not be perfect, but it is authentic. Authenticity allows us to be better and more credible advocates and counselors. As professors, we give better advice and more effectively mentor when we acknowledge our own evolving process of flawed humanity.

How can you, as part of your professional formation journey, balance the addition and subtraction in that process? Where are you holding on to life-draining habits and practices, and where could you be adding value to your leadership and professional life? How can you guide your students through a process of reflection and action? One potential way to achieve this involves making two lists. On one, identify which investments of your time, energy, and attention made the most impact on your professional life last year, and on the other, which made the least? Reflect on what those lists reveal to you about what you might add and what could be subtracted from your life to add more value. We note that while this exercise works in your professional formation journey, it is equally interesting to ask this question broadly about your life.

Intentionally considering how your time is spent, what adds value, and how you want to change is an important and ongoing part of the professional formation process. Once you identify areas to change, monitor how you feel about having let something go. Do you feel relief? Do you miss that person or activity? Sometimes letting go of things we feel we should do but don’t really want to do can be the next big step in our development.

As you lead your students through this exercise, we recommend presenting this as a long-range planning tool.  Remind them that life as a law student and as a lawyer comes with days and tasks that are not fun, easy, or comfortable. Law students must prove themselves capable of completing challenging tasks or assignments. Lawyers must gain the trust of their clients by meeting their obligations with integrity. Short-term sacrifices are sometimes necessary to ensure long-term success. Yet even in these challenging periods, we can find perspective and clarity to envision our futures.

Like the quaint towns I visited in Spain, each of us can have a future that is a magical mixture of old and new. Building new skills and relationships laid on the foundation of our authentic values and hard-earned life experiences can lead to exciting opportunities and meaningful engagements in our communities. And, if well lived, our journeys can help others along their own paths.

– Liz

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How to Be a Better Leader in 2022


In the article below, Cynthia Thomas, the founder and owner of PLMC Associates, a management consulting firm for law firms, writes about four traits that are necessary to be a good leader. A good leader is impactful, compassionate, inclusive, and authentic.

She also includes eight songs from her Impactful Leader playlist.

https://www.lawpracticetoday.org/article/how-to-be-a-better-leader-in-2022/


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Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 3

By Leah Teague

As discussed in our last two posts, several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education that were adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

Part 1 was a discussion of the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  Part 2 of this series addressed the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” In this Part 3, we focus on the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 3: Caring for One’s Well-Being is Critical to Success as Lawyer and Leader

The amendment to ABA Standard 508(b) requires law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources.” The proposal also calls for the law schools to work to remove the stigma of accessing mental health and well-being supports on campus and within the legal profession.

New Interpretation 508-1 reads:

Law student well-being resources include information or services related to mental health, including substance use disorders. Other law student well-being resources may include information for students in need of critical services such as food pantries or emergency financial assistance. Such resources encompass counseling services provided in-house by the law school, through the university of which the law school is a part, or by a lawyer assistance program. Law schools should strive to mitigate barriers or stigma to accessing such services, whether within the law school or larger professional community.

New Interpretation 508-2 reads:

Reasonable access, at a minimum, involves informing law students and providing guidance regarding relevant information and services, including assistance on where the information and services can be found or accessed.

This addition to the Standards signals the importance of law schools’ effort to care for all aspects of our students’ development. For students to use their legal knowledge, skills and competencies to achieve their goals (i.e. self-actualization), they must learn to care for themselves and tend to issues related to mental and physical health. Law school is our opportunity to help students develop the healthy strategies they will need to deal with the stress of the practice of law, maintain healthy relationships with family and friends, and manage their time wisely so that they can continue to enjoy the hobbies and passions that are important to them.

Leadership development programs recognize the importance of well-being and provide opportunities for students to identify and adopt healthy practices that will benefit them as they enter the profession. In Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, Chapter 11 (The Importance of Well-Being: Thriving in the Legal Profession) discusses the dimensions of health and shares resources and techniques for long-term practices and habits. In Leadership for Lawyers Chapter 2, Rhode discusses the evolution of well-being, the underlying causes of stress in the legal profession, and suggestions for positive strategies.

Modern law schools are called to go beyond teaching law students to “think” like a lawyer to preparing them for success as whole or complete lawyer (i.e., how to “be” a lawyer) – and a healthy one at that! The efforts to increase professional identity/formation and leadership development programming at law schools are national efforts to address the Carnegie Report’s description of the third stage or apprenticeship of the development. See Growing Number of Leadership Programs and Courses Supports Professional Identity Formation for a further discussion about developing well-rounded lawyers who will be find meaning, satisfaction and success in life using knowledge and skills that are learn (or at least introduced) in law school and developed throughout their careers.  


Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

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Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 2

By Leah Teague

As discussed in our last post, several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education that were adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

Part 1 was a discussion of the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  This post is Part 2 of this series and focuses on the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” Part 3 will be a future post to discuss the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 2: Valuing Diversity and Inclusion, Understanding Bias, and Developing Cross-cultural Competency are Fundamental Aspects of Leadership Development

New efforts to encourage diversity, inclusion and cultural competency education resulted in the addition of ABA Standard 303(c), which reads:

(c) A law school shall provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism:

(1) at the start of the program of legal education, and
(2) at least once again before graduation.

For students engaged in law clinics or field placements, the second occasion will take place before, concurrent with, or as part of their enrollment in clinical or field placement courses.

The updated Standards also include new interpretations. New Interpretation 303-6 reads:

With respect to 303(a)(1), the importance of cross-cultural competency to professionally responsible representation and the obligation of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law should be among the values and responsibilities of the legal profession to which students are introduced.

New Interpretation 303-7 reads:

Standard 303(c)’s requirement that law schools provide education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism may be satisfied by, among other things, the following:

(1) Orientation sessions for incoming students;
(2) Lectures on these topics;
(3) Courses incorporating these topics; or
(4) Other educational experiences incorporating these topics.

While law schools need not add a required upper-division course to satisfy this requirement, law schools must demonstrate that all law students are required to participate in a substantial activity designed to reinforce the skill of cultural competency and their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.

New Interpretation 303-8 reads:

Standard 303 does not prescribe the form or content of the education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism required by Standard 303(c).

Many find this important but sensitive subject difficult to teach but these topics have been a mainstay in lawyer-leadership programs from the beginning. Leadership courses and programs have already developed methods for teaching these concepts in a respectful and meaningful manner designed to engage students and prepare them for the future. For example, Chapter 17 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership is titled “Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Intelligence” and combines the coverage of diversity and inclusion with bias and cross-cultural competency. We also include several exercises and discussion prompts in our Teacher’s Manual to assist with these conversations. Chapter 8 of Leadership for Lawyers is titled “Diversity in Leadership.” These issues have always been present in Deborah Rhode’s leadership books but the recently released third edition textbook includes additional material on diversity and inclusion, as well as updated exercises, problems, and media resources.

We note that we are adopting a term we learned from Professor Neil Hamilton. We now refer to this topic as “Diversity and Belonging” which calls us as leaders to seek ways to help each member of our team or group or organization, especially those who have different backgrounds and life experiences, feel valued as a contributing member of the effort. Together we can make a difference as we positively influence those around us, seek ways to meaningfully impact our communities and inspire our students to do the same!


Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

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Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 1

By Leah Teague

Several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

In Part 1 below, we focus on the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  Part 2 of this series addresses the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” Part 3 discusses the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 1: Professional Identity Development is Now Required in Legal Education

Lawyers’ role as leaders in society IS a fundamental part of lawyers’ professional identity!

ABA Standards 303(b) was amended to require law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for: … (3) the development of a professional identity.  

Also adopted was new Interpretation 303-5 which reads:

Professional identity focuses on what it means to be a lawyer and the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society. The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice. Because developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over time, students should have frequent opportunities for such development during each year of law school and in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.

Leadership development IS professional formation. At the core of leadership development efforts is awakening law students to “the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society.” For a visual model of the development of a law student’s professional identity, see the Holloran Center’s Model for How Law School Learning Outcomes Build on Each Other to Foster Student Development. The model presents five groups of competencies in a visual layered progression of law school learning outcomes to help students “grow[] from being a new entrant to the profession to being an integrated effective lawyer serving others well in meaningful employment.” In Group 5 (complex, compound competencies) is “Leadership and Influence in Organizations and Communities.” For a discussion of these competencies, see Neil Hamilton’s Mentor/Coach: The Most Effective Curriculum to Foster Each Student’s Professional Development and Formation. For a discussion of the role of lawyers as leaders in society, see the Preface and Chapter 2 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership and Chapter 1 of Leadership for Lawyers.

Leadership development goes beyond professional identity to teach students how to work well with others and to encourage students to use their education and training to serve others and benefit society. At Baylor Law we see the broader mission of our values-based leadership development program as three-fold:

  • encourage law students and lawyers to embrace their obligation to serve clients and society,
  • better equip law students for positions of leadership and influence, and
  • inspire law students to boldly seek opportunities to make a difference in their communities and the world.

The proposed amendments to Standards 303 (professional identity), 206 (bias, cross-cultural competency and racism) and 508 (student well-being) align with this mission and are important aspects of a law student’s preparation for professional life after law school. Notably, both of the leadership textbooks for law students address all three of these issues. One, of course, is Deborah Rhode’s Leadership for Lawyers (a third edition has recently been released) and the other is our textbook, Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership.

These amendments reinforce our duty to tend to whole development of our students’ professional formation through self-assessment, reflection upon values, and focus on techniques for better decision-making and goal-setting, in addition to the teaching of legal knowledge and skills. The amendment distinguishes professional identity from ethics and professional responsibility courses that are already required in law school: “The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice.” This is likely part of a larger scheme to improve lawyer well-being, which is supported by the amendment to Standard 508. The objective is to equip students with knowledge, skills and priorities that will better enable students to become successful, healthy and impactful lawyers.


With every conversation with leaders in our profession, the importance of our efforts and need for leadership development in law schools is confirmed! Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

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Historic Leadership Moment

Pictured (from left) are Judge Carlos Moore, Navan Ward Jr., Douglas K. Burrell, and Reginald Turner.
Photo from the American Association for Justice, as published in the ABA Journal.

As Black History Month 2022 draws to a close, we thought we’d highlight a historic first spotlighted in the ABA Journal.  For the first time in history, African Americans are leading four major national bar associations at once: The American Bar Association, American Association for Justice, the National Bar Association, and the Defense Research Institute.

https://www.abajournal.com/web/article/four-black-bar-association-leaders-reflect-on-historic-moment


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The Great Resignation…


As law firm leaders grapple with the Great Resignation, this ABA Law Practice Division article emphasizes the importance of relationships and connections as the key to retention. Of course, creating the culture of connection necessarily means that leaders need to be ensuring that all members of the firm are feeling connected and valued, not just the members with whom they feel most comfortable:

https://www.lawpracticetoday.org/article/leading-through-connection-the-key-to-increased-retention/

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Black History Month – Training Lawyers as Leaders


As we celebrate Black History Month, we wanted to share with you a fantastic resource put together by the American Bar Association. Although some of these may be familiar to you, they are wonderful resources when looking for example for leadership classes or presentations. We hope that you can take a few moments to check these out and consider working them into your presentations.

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/diversity/resources/celebrating-heritage-months/black-history-month/


Header image created using materials designed by pikisuperstar – www.freepik.com

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Leadership Development in Law School in One Week?

Guest Post by Professor Kathleen Elliott Vinson
Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School

If leadership development is a life-long learning process, can a one-week intensive intersession leadership course possibly be effective for law students? Spoiler alert – yes it can!

 “I thought the course would be lectures about lawyers who are leaders.” “I thought the class would tell us we had to adopt a particular leadership style or have a particular talent.” “I thought you had to be born a natural leader.” “I never considered myself a leader before.” These were common myths and comments of students as they reflected back on the Lawyers as Leaders intensive one-week course during the winter intersession.

Instead, after completing the course, students learned that leadership is a skill that can and should be taught in law schools. They discovered that leadership is not an innate ability, title or trait. They began to develop their leadership skills through practice, feedback, and reflection.

The course focused on leading self, leading others, and leading change. Although time was limited, threads throughout the course included self-discovery and relationships. Students realized leadership is personal and requires trust. Students engaged in self-assessments, role-playing, reflections, and working in teams. At the core, students focused on their sense of purpose (their “why”), their values, their identities, their preferences as well as others, their strengths and blind spots, and what they envisioned as their leadership philosophy and legacy.

Class began with students sharing their #ThisIsMe assignment that included their responses (including pictures) to several prompts (what do you find challenging, what are you proud of, what is something that scares you, what is your theme song, what is a fond childhood memory, etc.) Their generosity, courage, and vulnerability in sharing their responses developed trust and connections with everyone in the class that grew stronger each day of the course. They grappled with defining what leadership means and went on to explore leadership theories and styles, personality preferences, well-being, fixed v. growth mindset, grit and resilience, the gift of feedback, emotional intelligence, conflict styles and difficult conversations, characteristics of inspiring leaders, inclusive leadership, and the impact of leadership.

While the breadth and depth of each concept may have been more of an introduction than a deep dive, the one-week course was a start for students on their life-long journey of leadership development — like a train leaving the station and traveling along a track. The journey may be different for each student. I was grateful to be a small part of their leadership journey — like a conductor on a train full of different passengers.

Thus, I ended class with a clip from Polar Express when the conductor (Tom Hanks) punches the train tickets of several children as they board the Polar Express on their way home from their journey to the North Pole. The conductor had previously punched two letters in each of the children’s tickets at the beginning of the journey to the North Pole. Then, when the conductor punches their tickets on the return trip, the holes in the ticket become a word or phrase representing a message the child has learned. As they board the train for the return trip, the first child’s ticket that the conductor punches holes in spells the word “Learn.” The holes the conductor punches in the ticket of the next child spells the phrase “Depend On” then it magically changes to “Rely On” then “Count On.” The holes punched in the ticket of the third child spell out the word “Lead” (“as in leader, leadership, lead the way”). The ticket of the last child spells “Believe.” These tickets summed up several leadership lessons in the course, no matter the length of the journey: leadership can be learned; trust is essential; leadership is not about a title but about the action to lead; and finally, believe you are a leader, that you can continue to develop leadership, and that your leadership will have an impact.

Perhaps because students were immersed every day, all day, for a week, learning about leadership that many remarked that the connections they made, and the impact of the course felt deeper than a semester-long course. It may not be the length of the journey that matters (the journey on the Polar Express was only one night), it is the lessons learned along the way. Don’t hesitate to get on board the train.

– Kathleen Elliott Vinson