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 Papers, here.

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,

Leadership

Why Leadership Training is Important for New Lawyers

Amber Shanafelt Myers, Baylor Law JD ’14, 
Leadership Development Fellow

Lawyers are in a unique position when they enter the workforce. We usually don’t start at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy. Most start somewhere in the middle.  Many new lawyers are even tasked with supervising other employees. For most traditional law students who have completed law school right after college, this is terrifying! How can you know how to manage without training, but beyond that, how do you take it a step further and lead?

The ever-changing legal market makes this problem bigger than it did in years past. Today, only a slim majority of graduating law students will go to work at a large firm, organization, or company with a structured training program and career ladder. Companies, and even government organizations, have opted for a leaner approach, requiring that lawyers who come on board jump right in the deep end.

There are so many different things that my law school leadership training taught me that has served me well in this environment. Some skills that have helped me the most are understanding how to talk to people, identifying different personality types, and learning how to adapt and be flexible. These skills have been invaluable. Even though I spent time in leadership classes and seminars before I went to law school, I couldn’t have guessed how to apply those concepts to the legal field until I had some legal education under my belt.

Academia, Leadership

Kellye & Ken Follow-up


By Leah Teague

On April 1, I had the pleasure of participating in a webinar hosted by Live with Kellye and Ken. The web series posts monthly hour-long discussions between invited panel guests over a wide array of topics affecting legal education and the legal community. This month’s episode was titled Law and Leadership. I was honored to be included on a panel with Professor Deborah Rhode from Stanford, Dean Garry Jenkins from Minnesota, Dean D. Gordon Smith from Brigham Young, and Dean Matthew Diller from Fordham.

A video of the webinar is available, here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Uw5LB6H7Nw&feature=youtu.be

During the discussion, each panelist briefly talked about the leadership programs at their respective schools, as well as the value of implementing leadership training in law schools. The panelists agreed leadership development programming gives our student the opportunity to practice assessing different and difficult situations and determine their role and that of others as they seek the best approach to a positive outcome. Everything that we are all doing in these Leadership Development Programs assists students to more effectively represent their clients, add value to their future organizations and live more fulfilling lives. As Dean Jenkins expressed, at its core, “leadership is really about developing a set of skills over a period of time as opposed to the idea that once I do these five things, I’m a leader.”

Dean Jenkins added, “I reject thinking of leadership as an on/off switch. I think there’s a misnomer that either you’re a leader or you’re not, either you have it or you don’t.” He suggested the best analogy is that of learning music. “We could all study the cello. We could all get better. Some will improve faster than others.” His point is that “a combination of natural ability and inclination and effort… all play roles. We might not all end in the same place but we’d all improve.” Professor Rhode confirmed that “studies show that most leadership skills are learned skills.”

Dean Smith noted that we need to help our students become good team players with an entrepreneurial mindset and an understanding that every person has value and is worthy of respect. Dean Dillard echoed this sentiment by explaining that his leadership class is “focused on framing (leadership development) not so much as law and leadership, but law and being a good organizational and institutional citizen… and the professional is not the center of everything. The professional is a servant and works in the service of others.”

At the end of the day, Dean Smith said it best, “we all want something really similar from our institutions and from legal education… we want to make the world a better place…we want to make it better for all people and leadership is the mechanism to get that sort of result.” Everything that we are all doing in these Leadership Development Programs is going to help our students add value to their future organizations, to their clients, and their communities. Implementing Leadership development programs is a win-win situation for all our schools!

Academia, Leadership

Webinar Invitation: “Law and Leadership: If You Build It, They Will Come”

By Ed Nelson

Topic

Live with Kellye & Ken: 4/1/19

“Law and Leadership: If You Build It, They Will Come”

Webinar Description

Join hosts, Deans Emeritus Kellye Testy (LSAC CEO) and Ken Randall (iLaw President), as they lead a live dialogue about the state of legal education.

Lawyers lead our country. Yet law schools traditionally have not trained their students for leadership. With both the roles of lawyers and the value of a law degree evolving, how should legal education adjust to educate capable and ethical lawyers? How can deans, administrators, and faculties not only successfully lead their own institutions but also reflect leadership models for students to emulate? What are the opportunities for students to gain leadership opportunities while in law school? A panel of five effective leaders and experts will explore how legal education should embrace the growing field of leadership. Professor Rhode’s seminal work – Lawyers as Leaders – provides an invaluable framework for the discussion.

Joining the discussion are:

• Dean Matthew Diller, Fordham
• Dean Garry Jenkins, Minnesota
• Professor Deborah Rhode, Stanford
• Dean Gordon Smith, Brigham Young
• Associate Dean Leah Teague, Baylor

This engaging one hour discussion will include a Q&A period at the end. The event will be recorded. If you register but cannot attend, you will receive a link to watch at a later time.

If you do not already have or do not wish to download the Zoom app, you may view the event through a browser by clicking the “Join from your browser” link when attempting to join the event.

Time

Monday, April 1, 2019 4:00 PM (Eastern Time – US and Canada)

REGISTER HERE

Academia, Leadership, Uncategorized

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

By Leah Teague

Leadership development programs are part of the standard operating procedures for business schools but not so for law schools, at least historically. At a Group Discussion during the January 2017 AALS Annual Meeting, we met with about 50 faculty members from all over the country and we asked them to share thoughts about challenges and roadblocks to creating leadership development programs and courses. Here are some points from the conversation:

  • What is leadership development anyway? How do we explain it to our skeptical colleagues?
  • Some lawyers and law students resist instruction in “soft skills.” The very use of the term when describing leadership development adds to the problem. For many lawyers the soft stuff is the hard stuff.
  • Many still think leaders are born not trained. You either have it or you don’t, they would say.
  • Doctrinal law faculty (especially those who have not been in formal leadership roles) feel uncomfortable with the subject and certainly do not feel equipped to teach it.
  • Current law students think they have already done leadership development … in high school and in college. “What could possibly be added in a law school leadership class?”, they might wonder. Some faculty and administrators probably share these thoughts.
  • For those that believe in the benefit of leadership development programming, how can we scale up the programming to insure all students are exposed to leadership development in a meaningful way?

These are some of the challenges we face. If you have encountered others, please share. As we continue this blog, we will address these issues and offer suggestions for overcoming.

– LT