In case you missed it: âThe legal
profession doesnât have a leadership problemâit has a character problemâ, by
Charles Edwards. Mr. Edwards post in the ABA Journal is wonderful write-up on
the importance of character in leadership. As Leah and I frequently discuss
with law students, leadership alone is not enough â ethical leadership
is the key to long-term success. By integrating best practices into leadership
courses, we are preparing our students for their future roles.
Leadership Development Syllabus Series â¢ Part 2: Engaging Students
Part 1 of our LEAD Course Series can be found, here.
In this second post of our LEAD Course series, we share our thoughts on interesting methods to engage law students. This year marks the sixth year of teaching this course and we are constantly making adjustments to the syllabus and our teaching methodologies. In addition to carefully selecting topics, exercises, and speakers, below we discuss three ways we engage the students.
As noted in a previous post, we require students keep a
journal throughout the class. We have come to believe this is one of the most
beneficial elements of the class. Not only does it help them personalize and
internalize the lessons, it allows us to evaluate their progress in real time throughout
the course. We use Box as a file management system and create individual
folders for each student. At the end of each class, students are assigned two
or three journal entries which are then added to the class syllabus. Students
answer these questions and prompts before the next class which allows us to
read their answers and gauge understanding and progress.
2. Leadership Quote, Video, or Short Story
Each student signs up to present a quote, video, or short
story about leadership in the first three-to-five minutes of a class. This fun
exercise allows students to use their creativity (and sometimes add some humor)
to present about leadership. The students â both the presenters and the rest of
the class â seem to enjoy the activity before jumping into the topic of the day.
Interestingly, most students chose topics for their presentation that fit well
with the topic for the day.
3. Blog Post
From the beginning we required them to select and read a
book about leadership. This year, instead of a book report, they will write a
blog post based on the book â a short review or why someone should read (or not
read) the book. We think they will be more engaged with the book of their
choice and it will allow us to showcase the best ones on this blog!
In our next post in this series we will share the main
components of our syllabus. Posts that follow in this series will include a
discussion of how we teach each class, PowerPoint presentations, exercises used
in class, topics presented by our guest speakers, prompts for journals and
feedback from our students.
We know that many of you present similar topics in your
courses and want to hear from you. We encourage you to post how you present
these topics in the comments to this post. Our hope is that this blog becomes a
discussion forum for best practices in teaching leadership in law schools. By
going through the syllabus step-by-step, we can have a detailed conversation
and share ideas.
To help with the collection and distribution of what other law school leadership programs are doing, we created a repository for syllabi, programs, exercises, articles, presentations, and other leadership development materials. You can view and download the materials, here.
Please add your materials and syllabus!
(You can also upload by emailing [email protected] and attaching the document you want uploaded.)
How do you consistently engage with your leadership students? Have your tried something that didn’t work at all as planned? As we continue this series, we invite your feedback and input in the comments!
Leadership Development Syllabus Series â¢ Part 1: Introduction
One of our goals for this blog is to advance the conversation of teaching leadership in law schools. We offer this blog-post series about specific parts of our Leadership Engagement and Development Course to hopefully spark ideas and further conversation. We begin with the top three things weâve learned over the last five years teaching this course.
First, engaging the students calls for more experiential
learning and effective use of guest speakers.
The first year, we used a more traditional pedagogy,
assigned heavy readings and relied on a Socratic method to engage the students
with the readings. We quickly discovered this material called for a different
approach if we want students to internalize the topics and embrace it as a
journey of self-discovery and growth.
We knew bringing in speakers would be beneficial. Our guest
speakers are assigned to cover specific topics and asked to provide context to
the concepts. They help the students see application of the concepts within a
real-world professional setting. Students more easily envision themselves in
those situations someday, and they connect with those lawyer leaders.
In the beginning, we scheduled guests near the end of the
course. Over the next few years, we experimented with how many guest speakers
and when. We found it best to have the two of us lead off the first week with
an introduction to leadership and an overview of the class. After that, we try
to bring a speaker for one of the two meetings each week. We purposefully
invite speakers to cover specific topics. We recognized that is a lot of guest
speakers so we set the syllabus early. We send the syllabus and assigned
reading to each speaker so that he or she can see where we started, what weâve
covered, and how his or her topic fits into the overall picture. From there,
each speaker chooses how to cover the topic and work his or her personality and
stories into the material. Students like this weekly balance and they enjoy
hearing from practicing lawyers and leaders. It is also a great way to connect
Early on we shifted to a more experiential approach. Even
during the sessions when we simply lead a discussion on a topic, we want the
students to âstruggleâ with the material at least to a certain degree to create
ownership of the material. We also constantly relate it to real-world
situations. For example, after a discussion on dealing with the media, we run a
mock press conference where students either assume the role of a media
correspondent or the general counsel for a company in crisis. The students
apply what theyâve learned in a controlled environment.
Second, the best class sessions include meaningful discussion among the students.
As noted above, we started with a more traditional pedagogy but the students were not engaged in thoughtful interaction. As a result, many students struggled to internalize the material and they could not identify how the information would be useful in the future. In other words, we were ineffective in leading them on a personal journey of self-discovery and growth.
Now, we are mindful of the need to include plenty of
opportunity for students to actively engage with the material during class and
after. If we donât have time for, or if a topic doesnât lend itself to, an
exercise, we involved the class in small and large group discussions. We have a
better balance of techniques leading to much better results. We hope we are
helping them establish a life-long practice of intellectual curiosity and
creative problem solving.
Third, journaling is essential.
When we created the class, neither of us believed in the power of journaling. With that said, since we did not believe that an exam was appropriate for this class, we required a journal to ensure that our students were getting through the material and completing the assignments. That first year, we did not see their journal until the end of the class.
We have seen the light! We now firmly believe that
journaling is critical to a studentâs development and growth. We tailor the
journal prompts after each class to connect with the conversation in class and
desired outcomes. Students must post journal entries to their personal Box file
before the next class so that we can review. This enables us to determine if
they are learning what was intended and allows us to make adjustments as
appropriate. It provides the students a mechanism for wrestling with concepts
and exploring the application to their lives. We hope our students create a
habit of continual self-assessment and development.
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.
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.
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 monthâs 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.
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, âleadership 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, Iâm a leader.â
Jenkins added, âI 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.â He suggested the best analogy is that of learning music. âWe
could all study the cello. We could all get better. Some will improve faster
than others.â His point is that âa combination of natural ability and
inclination and effortâ¦ all play roles. We might not all end in the same place
but we’d all improve.â Professor Rhode confirmed that âstudies show that most
leadership skills are learned skills.â
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 âfocused on framing (leadership development) not so much as
law and leadership, but law and being a good organizational and institutional
citizenâ¦ and the professional is not the center of everything. The professional
is a servant and works in the service of others.â
the end of the day, Dean Smith said it
best, âwe all want something really similar from our institutions and from
legal educationâ¦ we want to make the world a better placeâ¦we want to make it
better for all people and leadership is the mechanism to get that sort of
result.â 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!
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
What is leadership development anyway? How do we explain it to our skeptical colleagues?
Some lawyers and law students resist instruction in âsoft skills.â 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 donât, 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 â¦ in high school and in college. âWhat could possibly be added in a law school leadership class?â, 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?
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.
The State Bar of Texas Podcast – available on the Legal Talk Network – recently interviewed Leah Teague, associate dean at Baylor Law, about the importance of enhanced leadership training of future lawyers – and how many law schools are stepping up to the plate and revamping curricula and extra-curricular activities to make this a reality.
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.
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!!