Baylor Lawâs 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 weâve done so is through the
development of the Baylor Law Leadership
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:
the Leadership Engagement and Development (LEAD) class and complete the personal
development and team-building course (the Baylor Ropes Challenge Course).
of a minimum of 23 hours of Professional Development Programming.
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.
of a minimum 25 hours of community service.
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
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 â19). 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 â18 Dawson and Sodd Moot Court Competition. In addition to volunteering for the Veterans Clinic, McConnell volunteered with Baylor Lawâs 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.
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 soâ¦ share your program with
us in the comments.
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.
Hereâs 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 schoolsâ formal curricula, in the authorâs 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 studentsâ 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 studentâs team members can use the model to observe and assess a studentâs current stage of development and give feedback to help the student grow to the next stage. Reflecting on self-assessment, teamwork experiences, and othersâ 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.
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.
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 â 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 lawyersâ 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.
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
What is our role
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, â[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.â
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 âa separate
station in society.â When he labeled lawyers as the âAmerican Aristocracy,â he used
that title in the European tradition from which he came â 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 â law
degree and legal training â 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 â to make a public
declaration or to take an oath. When I ask them to name the three vocations
considered to be the original âprofessions,â it does not take them long to name
âdoctors, lawyers and clergy.â We then discuss what common attributes these
three share. Answers include âeducation and training;â âexpectation to live an
exemplary liveâ or at least âhigher expectations;â âless forgiveness for human
error;â and this is one of my favorites, âdoctors take care of the body, clergy
minister to the soul, and lawyers take care of live in a community – rights,
liberties and property interests.â 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 development should go
beyond a focus on defining lawyersâ 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 â the âwho am I as a
lawyer?â 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.
The American Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Leadership has announced aÂ Call for PapersÂ from which one additional presenter will be selected for the sectionâs program, âLearning from Lawyer-Leaders Throughout the Profession,â 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 theÂ Call for Papers,Â here.
Information about the Section on Leadership’s 2020 program and co-sponsored sessions is available on the AALS Section on Leadership website, here.
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 Cruiseâs interrogation scene in A Few Good Men illustrates an attorneyâs 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 attorneyâs 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 Schellâs 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.
Victoria S. Feather, Baylor Law J.D. '17
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 âJoe B.â).
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 â from the Members themselves to
each of their staff members. Each person plays a critical role in our stateâs
government and many of the studentsâ eyes were opened to the possibility of
using their law degree in this public sector.
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.
of our current students, Sarah Beth Toben, J.D. â20, is interning for Senator
Kirk Watson this session. Sarah Beth said that she has realized how important
âserviceâ is to leadership from her experience with Senator Watson. âIt 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.â
round out their view of life at (or near) the Texas Capitol, they also met with
lawyers from the Texas Attorney Generalâs office to learn about the various
matters that the AGâs office oversees and how lawyers are involved behind the
scenes in many facets of Texas life.
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
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.
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 â 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.)
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 donât, 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 youâre 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.
On April 4th and 5th, Leah and I were
in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Lawâs
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.
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 havenât 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 â admissions, career development, alumni relations, pro bono clinics, externships, etc. â 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, Dougâs 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.
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.
Â 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, âSocial 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.â Failure does not mean that you cannot succeed, but rather that you were trying something daring in order to make a change. âFor 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.â
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. âThe quote for that day was, âsuccess is not about how
high you bounce, but high how you bounce back after you hit bottom.ââ 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 failureâs 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 âitâ 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 âOut of this willingness to take risk and to fail and to fear comes growth.â Professor Fraley spoke to the graduates about watching them in class where they had to face fear and failure every day. Â She noted, âyou came back for more day after day. I donât know whether you were brave or whether you were too afraid not to, and it doesnât matter.â Professor Fraley left the graduates with a few final words of wisdom. âFail mightily. Laugh at yourself when you do. Get back up and fail and laugh again and embrace the glorious mess that is being alive.â
starters, we must recognize that as lawyers, as professionals, we are expected
to be leaders in society. âA lawyer is a
representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen
having special responsibility for the quality of justice.â
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.
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.
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 â intellectual curiosity â 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.
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. Donât we owe it to them to equip them with more than just
the ability to critically analyze an issue? Donât 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?
 The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble:
A Lawyer’s Responsibilities,
Amber Shanafelt Myers, Baylor Law JD â14, Leadership Development Fellow
Lawyers are in a unique position when they enter the workforce. We usually donât start at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy. Most start somewhere in the middle.Â Â 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 couldnât
have guessed how to apply those concepts to the legal field until I had some
legal education under my belt.