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Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 3

By Leah Teague

As discussed in our last two posts, several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education that were adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

Part 1 was a discussion of the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  Part 2 of this series addressed the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” In this Part 3, we focus on the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 3: Caring for One’s Well-Being is Critical to Success as Lawyer and Leader

The amendment to ABA Standard 508(b) requires law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources.” The proposal also calls for the law schools to work to remove the stigma of accessing mental health and well-being supports on campus and within the legal profession.

New Interpretation 508-1 reads:

Law student well-being resources include information or services related to mental health, including substance use disorders. Other law student well-being resources may include information for students in need of critical services such as food pantries or emergency financial assistance. Such resources encompass counseling services provided in-house by the law school, through the university of which the law school is a part, or by a lawyer assistance program. Law schools should strive to mitigate barriers or stigma to accessing such services, whether within the law school or larger professional community.

New Interpretation 508-2 reads:

Reasonable access, at a minimum, involves informing law students and providing guidance regarding relevant information and services, including assistance on where the information and services can be found or accessed.

This addition to the Standards signals the importance of law schools’ effort to care for all aspects of our students’ development. For students to use their legal knowledge, skills and competencies to achieve their goals (i.e. self-actualization), they must learn to care for themselves and tend to issues related to mental and physical health. Law school is our opportunity to help students develop the healthy strategies they will need to deal with the stress of the practice of law, maintain healthy relationships with family and friends, and manage their time wisely so that they can continue to enjoy the hobbies and passions that are important to them.

Leadership development programs recognize the importance of well-being and provide opportunities for students to identify and adopt healthy practices that will benefit them as they enter the profession. In Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, Chapter 11 (The Importance of Well-Being: Thriving in the Legal Profession) discusses the dimensions of health and shares resources and techniques for long-term practices and habits. In Leadership for Lawyers Chapter 2, Rhode discusses the evolution of well-being, the underlying causes of stress in the legal profession, and suggestions for positive strategies.

Modern law schools are called to go beyond teaching law students to “think” like a lawyer to preparing them for success as whole or complete lawyer (i.e., how to “be” a lawyer) – and a healthy one at that! The efforts to increase professional identity/formation and leadership development programming at law schools are national efforts to address the Carnegie Report’s description of the third stage or apprenticeship of the development. See Growing Number of Leadership Programs and Courses Supports Professional Identity Formation for a further discussion about developing well-rounded lawyers who will be find meaning, satisfaction and success in life using knowledge and skills that are learn (or at least introduced) in law school and developed throughout their careers.  


Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

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Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 2

By Leah Teague

As discussed in our last post, several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education that were adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

Part 1 was a discussion of the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  This post is Part 2 of this series and focuses on the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” Part 3 will be a future post to discuss the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 2: Valuing Diversity and Inclusion, Understanding Bias, and Developing Cross-cultural Competency are Fundamental Aspects of Leadership Development

New efforts to encourage diversity, inclusion and cultural competency education resulted in the addition of ABA Standard 303(c), which reads:

(c) A law school shall provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism:

(1) at the start of the program of legal education, and
(2) at least once again before graduation.

For students engaged in law clinics or field placements, the second occasion will take place before, concurrent with, or as part of their enrollment in clinical or field placement courses.

The updated Standards also include new interpretations. New Interpretation 303-6 reads:

With respect to 303(a)(1), the importance of cross-cultural competency to professionally responsible representation and the obligation of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law should be among the values and responsibilities of the legal profession to which students are introduced.

New Interpretation 303-7 reads:

Standard 303(c)’s requirement that law schools provide education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism may be satisfied by, among other things, the following:

(1) Orientation sessions for incoming students;
(2) Lectures on these topics;
(3) Courses incorporating these topics; or
(4) Other educational experiences incorporating these topics.

While law schools need not add a required upper-division course to satisfy this requirement, law schools must demonstrate that all law students are required to participate in a substantial activity designed to reinforce the skill of cultural competency and their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.

New Interpretation 303-8 reads:

Standard 303 does not prescribe the form or content of the education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism required by Standard 303(c).

Many find this important but sensitive subject difficult to teach but these topics have been a mainstay in lawyer-leadership programs from the beginning. Leadership courses and programs have already developed methods for teaching these concepts in a respectful and meaningful manner designed to engage students and prepare them for the future. For example, Chapter 17 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership is titled “Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Intelligence” and combines the coverage of diversity and inclusion with bias and cross-cultural competency. We also include several exercises and discussion prompts in our Teacher’s Manual to assist with these conversations. Chapter 8 of Leadership for Lawyers is titled “Diversity in Leadership.” These issues have always been present in Deborah Rhode’s leadership books but the recently released third edition textbook includes additional material on diversity and inclusion, as well as updated exercises, problems, and media resources.

We note that we are adopting a term we learned from Professor Neil Hamilton. We now refer to this topic as “Diversity and Belonging” which calls us as leaders to seek ways to help each member of our team or group or organization, especially those who have different backgrounds and life experiences, feel valued as a contributing member of the effort. Together we can make a difference as we positively influence those around us, seek ways to meaningfully impact our communities and inspire our students to do the same!


Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

Uncategorized

Amendments to ABA Standards Support the Objectives of Leadership Development Programming, Part 1

By Leah Teague

Several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education adopted on Feb. 22, 2022, reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303(b) (professional identity development), 303(c) (bias and cross-cultural competency & racism education), and 508(b) (student well-being resources). These three important topics are fundamental to robust leadership development programs and courses. Satisfying the new requirements can be achieved through adopting or enhancing leadership development at your law school. In this three-part series, we discuss each.

In Part 1 below, we focus on the new requirement in ABA Standard 303(b) requiring law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for … the development of a professional identity.”  Part 2 of this series addresses the requirement in ABA Standard 303(c) to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” Part 3 discusses the need for law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources” in accordance with ABA Standard 508(b).


Part 1: Professional Identity Development is Now Required in Legal Education

Lawyers’ role as leaders in society IS a fundamental part of lawyers’ professional identity!

ABA Standards 303(b) was amended to require law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for: … (3) the development of a professional identity.  

Also adopted was new Interpretation 303-5 which reads:

Professional identity focuses on what it means to be a lawyer and the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society. The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice. Because developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over time, students should have frequent opportunities for such development during each year of law school and in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.

Leadership development IS professional formation. At the core of leadership development efforts is awakening law students to “the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society.” For a visual model of the development of a law student’s professional identity, see the Holloran Center’s Model for How Law School Learning Outcomes Build on Each Other to Foster Student Development. The model presents five groups of competencies in a visual layered progression of law school learning outcomes to help students “grow[] from being a new entrant to the profession to being an integrated effective lawyer serving others well in meaningful employment.” In Group 5 (complex, compound competencies) is “Leadership and Influence in Organizations and Communities.” For a discussion of these competencies, see Neil Hamilton’s Mentor/Coach: The Most Effective Curriculum to Foster Each Student’s Professional Development and Formation. For a discussion of the role of lawyers as leaders in society, see the Preface and Chapter 2 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership and Chapter 1 of Leadership for Lawyers.

Leadership development goes beyond professional identity to teach students how to work well with others and to encourage students to use their education and training to serve others and benefit society. At Baylor Law we see the broader mission of our values-based leadership development program as three-fold:

  • encourage law students and lawyers to embrace their obligation to serve clients and society,
  • better equip law students for positions of leadership and influence, and
  • inspire law students to boldly seek opportunities to make a difference in their communities and the world.

The proposed amendments to Standards 303 (professional identity), 206 (bias, cross-cultural competency and racism) and 508 (student well-being) align with this mission and are important aspects of a law student’s preparation for professional life after law school. Notably, both of the leadership textbooks for law students address all three of these issues. One, of course, is Deborah Rhode’s Leadership for Lawyers (a third edition has recently been released) and the other is our textbook, Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership.

These amendments reinforce our duty to tend to whole development of our students’ professional formation through self-assessment, reflection upon values, and focus on techniques for better decision-making and goal-setting, in addition to the teaching of legal knowledge and skills. The amendment distinguishes professional identity from ethics and professional responsibility courses that are already required in law school: “The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice.” This is likely part of a larger scheme to improve lawyer well-being, which is supported by the amendment to Standard 508. The objective is to equip students with knowledge, skills and priorities that will better enable students to become successful, healthy and impactful lawyers.


With every conversation with leaders in our profession, the importance of our efforts and need for leadership development in law schools is confirmed! Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!

– Leah

Academia, Leadership

How Do We Distinguish Ethics, Professionalism and Leadership?

 By Leah Teague 

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.

Ethics/Professional Responsibility

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 – 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 lawyers’ 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.

Professional Development/Professionalism/ Formation/ Identity

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 lawyers?
  • What is our role in society?
  • 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, “[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.”

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 “a separate station in society.” When he labeled lawyers as the “American Aristocracy,” he used that title in the European tradition from which he came – 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 – law degree and legal training – 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 – to make a public declaration or to take an oath. When I ask them to name the three vocations considered to be the original “professions,” it does not take them long to name “doctors, lawyers and clergy.” We then discuss what common attributes these three share. Answers include “education and training;” “expectation to live an exemplary live” or at least “higher expectations;” “less forgiveness for human error;” and this is one of my favorites, “doctors take care of the body, clergy minister to the soul, and lawyers take care of live in a community – rights, liberties and property interests.”  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

Leadership development should go beyond a focus on defining lawyers’ 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 – the “who am I as a lawyer?” 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.

-LT