In case you missed it: “The legal
profession doesn’t have a leadership problem—it has a character problem”, 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 – 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.
In case you missed it: “Lawyer Leadership Secrets to Success” by Liam Montgomery. In the style of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (authors of Extreme Ownership), Mr. Montgomery translates lessons learned in military service to leadership for lawyers. In this article he focuses upon giving and receiving feedback – a critical skill for any leader. The article is definitely worth the read if you’re looking for more feedback material to give to students: http://www.abajournal.com/voice/article/lawyer-leadership-secret-to-success
In case you missed it: “3 Steps To Transform From Top Lawyer To Business Leader.” To never stop learning is probably the most important lesson that a leader can learn. This Forbes article explores the modern challenges that lawyer-leaders will encounter and what to do about it: to continue to expand their knowledge base, work with other, and understand data analytics. But the underlying message is more important: never stop learning.
Baylor Law’s 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 we’ve 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 ’19). 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 ’18 Dawson and Sodd Moot Court Competition. In addition to volunteering for the Veterans Clinic, McConnell volunteered with Baylor Law’s 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 so… share your program with
us in the comments.
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.
As discussed in a previous post, when people think of the term leadership they often think about what CEOs do. But leadership is about building relationships so that you can rely upon or have conversations with others when you need to. It can be as simple as asking a favor of a friend (“Can you check on my dog while I’m out of town?”) to using your relationship to have a difficult conversation (“I need to talk to you about the comment you made in our meeting yesterday – I know your intentions are good but it can be hurtful to others.”). Or, it may be that you need to convince others in your organization that a particular course of action is the right one (“I want to visit with you on the vote on Tuesday on [X] issue. I believe that [Y] position is the right one because…”). All of these situations will require different approaches, tailored to the person and situation.
Through the study of famous leaders and their styles, skills, and traits, we can learn new techniques to approach different situations. It is through this study that we learn how best to build relationships and achieve our goals.
If this sounds like you’re “using” your relationship, it’s
not. This is what we all do every day – at work, with our friends, and even
with our spouses. Leadership is the art of knowing which approach to use for
each situation to accomplish your goal. Through the study of famous leaders and
their styles, skills, and traits, we can learn new techniques to approach
different situations. It is through this study that we learn how best to build
relationships and achieve our goals.
As the co-founders of the Baylor Leadership Development Program and early adopters of the leadership movement in legal education, we established this blog to address several questions:
(1) What do we mean by leadership development?
(2) Why are these efforts important and relevant to individuals - law students and lawyers?
(3) As guardians of the rule of law and defenders of our democracy, how can these efforts benefit our profession and our country?
(4) What does leadership development look like for lawyers and how is it different from leadership development for other professions?
All of us who have started a leadership development program or class (as well as those who attempted to do so) are commonly faced with questions and preconceived notions such as: Aren’t leaders born not made? Why should law schools devote attention to leadership when so few lawyers will serve as a managing partner of their firm? How is a leadership course in law school different from the leadership program or course from their high school or college days?
Promoting a National Movement
We will address these questions (and more) in this blog. For those who have leadership programs or classes, we hope you will share your challenges faced and wisdom gained. We hope all will join in the conversation. Just as we know civil discourse results in better outcomes, we know that engaging in robust discussions around these questions can lead to more effective conversations and programming in law schools, bar associations and legal offices throughout the nation.