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:



        Student Perspectives on Leadership Development

         Ali Moser (JD ‘19) 

        Below, Ali Moser (JD ‘19) and a Baylor Law Leadership Fellow, offers her thoughts on the Leadership class and her experience at Baylor Law.

        Benefits of the Leadership Class         

        The Leadership Development Program at Baylor Law School helped me gain an extra set of skills to take into my future career. I learned much from the leadership class, but I gained even more from the experiences I had when actually serving as a leader during my time at Baylor Law.

        I was fortunate to have two very formative leadership experiences outside of the LEAD class. First, serving as Executive President of the Student Bar Association my 3L year was not an opportunity that I expected to have during law school. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the student body. SBA is the umbrella to every other student organization on campus.  As SBA President I thoroughly enjoyed working with so many ambitious fellow students. I learned a lot about communicating with different groups of people and how to meet the needs of students during a challenging and demanding three years of their lives.

        (L-R) Ali Moser; Dean Leah Teague; Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, Nathan Hecht; Dean Brad Toben, Dean Stephen Rispoli

        My second opportunity to put the skills into practice was when I served as the 2018 Conference Chair for LEAD Counsel’s Making A Difference Conference. As chair, I was challenged as the many moving pieces had to all come together, but it taught me a lot. The class helped me develop skills that I put into practice. I’m thankful for both of my experiences with SBA and LEAD Counsel and I know that lessons learned as part of the Leadership Development Program will serve me well in my career.

        The Importance of Relationship Building

        In the Leadership Class, there were many opportunities to learn about our own strengths and weaknesses, as well as our peers and other leaders. This allowed friendships to develop with the other students in the class, which does not always happen in law school classes. However, that was an integral part of the Leadership Class, which was surprising to me. I learned about my leadership style and the leadership style of others. It taught me where I was strong, and exposed places where I could improve. This created a unique classroom environment with the fellow classmates, and I hope to cross paths with many of them in my legal career.

        Advice to all Law Students: Learn Leadership Styles

        I offer this advice to all law students – I encouraged you to discover what your leadership style is whether that is through a class, reading a book, or watching a podcast. It is incredibly value to know before stepping into a legal career. As you learn more about leadership styles, you become more aware of the strong parts of your personality so you can capitalize on those aspects; but also learn where you can improve. As you become familiar with many of the leadership styles, you will be able to recognize different styles which will enable you to work well with others in your future career.

        Ali Mosser, JD ’19

        Ali Moser graduated from Baylor Law in May of 2019 having earned the distinction as a Leadership Fellow. During her time at Baylor she was involved in various student organizations including Student Bar Association, Inn of Court, LEAD Counsel, Federalist Society, Intramurals. She also competed in Moot Court competitions, volunteered her time as a McLennan County Court Appointed Special Advocate. Ali’s leadership and devotion to Baylor Law School encouraged many students to follow in her footsteps and become not only a law student who goes through the motions, but a leader who impacts lives. After graduation she joined the litigation section of Walsh Gallegos Trevino Russo & Kyle, P.C.

        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

        Academia, Leadership

        Benefits of Leadership Development Programming in Law Schools

        By Leah Teague

        Five important benefits to our students when law schools are more intentional to provide leadership development for our students: (1) Insure our students not only understand their obligation to give back to society, but inspire them to seek opportunities to use their legal training and skills to positively impact their communities as well as their clients; (2) Guide students through a self-assessment and discover of their own leadership characteristics and traits and provide appropriate training so that they are better equipped for success when those opportunities are presented; (3) Expose our students to specific leadership language, theory and skills necessary or helpful to be more effective in those roles; (4) Provide experiential learning through case studies, role playing and problem solving allowing students to practice assessing different situations and different personalities to best strategize effective approaches in each situation; and (5) Give students opportunities to experience, and to reflect upon the broader ramifications of how ethical considerations should affect the way lawyer-leaders make decisions.

        Law schools will benefit as well. Highlighting leadership skills gained from legal training will help applicants see that law school continues to be a great investment in their future as they seek a path of significance and fulfillment through helping people and effectuating a better future for organizations, communities and societies.

        As of June 2018, we are aware of thirty-one law schools that have some type of leadership program. 

        Leah Teague

        As of June 2018, we are aware of thirty-one law schools that have some type of leadership program. Seven of the thirty-one have a specific focus as indicated, including business law, cybersecurity, government, transitional justice, and women. Twenty-three law schools have at least one course which has leadership in the title or a course description that includes leadership development as a significant objective. Leadership development courses are in the planning stage in at least one additional law school. Other law schools likely have courses with elements of leadership development even though not in the title or description. Schools with leadership programs generally offer non-credit workshops, seminars and other leadership activities. Other law schools likely have or had leadership workshops or forums.

        The majority of the programs and courses were created in the last five years. Leadership programs or courses at Elon, Harvard, Ohio State, Maryland, Santa Clara, Stanford, Stetson and St. Thomas are at least ten years old. For a list of known programs and courses, see https://baylor.box.com/s/v53753qbp8xdta2xqdh7nvcf4wgng8u4. If you have a leadership program or course, please let us know so we can add you to the list!!