As the end of summer nears and return to school looms, we are returning to the basics. For me, that means back to the beginning of this effort to support the growth of leadership development programming in legal education. I remember the early morning breakfast at the 2016 AALS meeting where Deborah Rhode and I hosted a small but enthusiastic group in the first conversation about this effort to encourage law schools to better prepare students as leaders. Encouraged by the energy at that gathering, we planned a formal Group Discussion for the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting entitled Introducing Leadership Development into the Law School Curriculum (see notes linked).The room was packed and over-flowing! The appetite for action was exciting. We all agreed that it was time! Lawyers are leaders and leadership development should be an integral part of legal education and training.
After all manner of justifications for why we need to emphasize leadership development in legal education, we identified and acknowledge challenges and we generated ideas. Two of the challenges identified at that time were:
- How do we get colleagues to support the creation of leadership development initiatives?
- How do we help professors and staff colleagues incorporate leadership development into all aspects of their legal education (class, clinics, professional identity formation, career development, etc.).
The progress that has been made since those initial meetings is impressive (see Making Progress in Legal Education: Leadership Development Training in Law Schools), but much more is needed. We challenge you to take an active role in helping with creation or growth of leadership development programming at your school.
Our August challenge is:
For readers in the legal academy: Help at least two colleagues find ways to incorporate leadership development in their classes, programs, or other work within the school.
For readers who do not hold a full-time position in a law school: Inquire about leadership programming at your alma mater or one with which you have a relationship and offer to help.
In a case of colleagues who still think “leaders are born, not made,” victory may be convincing them that leadership development is relevant and important and can be done in law school. Even if they are not yet comfortable that they can effectively include discussions or lessons of leadership in their classrooms, maybe they will be supportive of leadership development efforts of other colleagues.
In future posts, we will discuss some suggestions for influence and action, which is after all our definition of leadership.