Professor Neil Hamilton, University of St. Thomas School of Law, has written a fantastic article about developing law student teamwork and leadership skills – to be published soon in the Hofstra Law Review, and available now on SSRN.
Here’s the abstract:
Skills of teamwork and team leadership are foundational for many types of law practice, but how much instruction, supervised experience, assessment, and guided reflection on these two skills did each reader as a law student receive? Law schools’ formal curricula, in the author’s experience, historically have not given much attention to the development of these skills. There also has been little legal scholarship on how most effectively to foster law students’ growth toward later stages of teamwork and team leadership. Legal education must do better.
What is the next step for the 58 law schools that have adopted a learning outcome on teamwork or team leadership (plus those that will later adopt this type of outcome)? In Part II, this article outlines the next steps that competency-based education requires for a law school to implement a teamwork and team leadership learning outcome. In Part III, the article presents a stage development model for law student teamwork and team leadership skills. Part IV explains how to use the stage development model in the curriculum so that students can understand the entire range of stages of development of teamwork and team leadership. The students can then self-assess their own current stage of development, and faculty and staff and a student’s team members can use the model to observe and assess a student’s current stage of development and give feedback to help the student grow to the next stage. Reflecting on self-assessment, teamwork experiences, and others’ feedback, a student can create a written professional development plan to grow to the next stage of teamwork and team leadership and get coaching on the plan. The student can also assess the evidence the student has to demonstrate his or her level of development to potential employers.
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.
starters, we must recognize that as lawyers, as professionals, we are expected
to be leaders in society. “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.”
We have an obligation to serve not only our clients but also society. Our legal
training and professional status afford us daily opportunities to influence
individuals, organizations and communities.
many ways, legal training is implicitly leadership development training. Faculty
are teaching and modeling leadership in the classroom and beyond; however, we are
not teaching leadership intentionally. We must help our students understand
that their professional obligation is to serve their clients and their communities. Their
professional opportunities will enable them to lead and to be change-makers. If
we see ourselves as problem solvers and trusted advisors instead of deal
killers and hired guns, maybe the public will see us that way too.
can start developing lawyer-leaders intentionally by reframing the way we think
about leadership development training. Law faculties are equipped to
participate. Because they are lawyers, they have served in a variety of leadership
roles, including as professors in the classroom. Leadership goes on every day,
in every classroom. Faculty can more intentionally model leadership and help students
see themselves as leaders. Students, from observing our interactions and actions,
learn how to address colleagues and classmates, how to treating others with
respect, and what it means to be a professional. But faculty can also encourage
one of the most fundamental aspects of leadership – intellectual curiosity – as
a way of life. Law professors can equip students with knowledge, skills and
strategies that will help them be successful in dealing with, and leading,
people and organizations.
majority of law school applicants provide personal statements that express
their desire to go to law school because they want to make a difference, to
advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, or to make our
communities better. Don’t we owe it to them to equip them with more than just
the ability to critically analyze an issue? Don’t we want to make sure we set
them up for success, not only in the practice of law but also in the many other
arenas in which they will serve?
 The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble:
A Lawyer’s Responsibilities,
Amber Shanafelt Myers, Baylor Law JD ’14, Leadership Development Fellow
Lawyers are in a unique position when they enter the workforce. We usually don’t start at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy. Most start somewhere in the middle. Many new lawyers are even tasked with supervising other employees. For most traditional law students who have completed law school right after college, this is terrifying! How can you know how to manage without training, but beyond that, how do you take it a step further and lead?
The ever-changing legal market makes this
problem bigger than it did in years past. Today, only a slim majority of
graduating law students will go to work at a large firm, organization, or
company with a structured training program and career ladder. Companies, and
even government organizations, have opted for a leaner approach, requiring that
lawyers who come on board jump right in the deep end.
There are so many different things that my law
school leadership training taught me that has served me well in this
environment. Some skills that have helped me the most are understanding how to
talk to people, identifying different personality types, and learning how to
adapt and be flexible. These skills have been invaluable. Even though I spent
time in leadership classes and seminars before I went to law school, I couldn’t
have guessed how to apply those concepts to the legal field until I had some
legal education under my belt.
Join hosts, Deans Emeritus Kellye Testy (LSAC CEO) and Ken Randall (iLaw President), as they lead a live dialogue about the state of legal education.
Lawyers lead our country. Yet law schools traditionally have not trained their students for leadership. With both the roles of lawyers and the value of a law degree evolving, how should legal education adjust to educate capable and ethical lawyers? How can deans, administrators, and faculties not only successfully lead their own institutions but also reflect leadership models for students to emulate? What are the opportunities for students to gain leadership opportunities while in law school? A panel of five effective leaders and experts will explore how legal education should embrace the growing field of leadership. Professor Rhode’s seminal work – Lawyers as Leaders – provides an invaluable framework for the discussion.
Joining the discussion are:
• Dean Matthew Diller, Fordham • Dean Garry Jenkins, Minnesota • Professor Deborah Rhode, Stanford • Dean Gordon Smith, Brigham Young • Associate Dean Leah Teague, Baylor
This engaging one hour discussion will include a Q&A period at the end. The event will be recorded. If you register but cannot attend, you will receive a link to watch at a later time.
If you do not already have or do not wish to download the Zoom app, you may view the event through a browser by clicking the “Join from your browser” link when attempting to join the event.
Monday, April 1, 2019 4:00 PM (Eastern Time – US and Canada)
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 “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?
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 need for leaders in our
communities, in our country, has never been greater. A survey by the Harvard
Center for Public Leadership found that over two-thirds of Americans think the
nation has a leadership crisis. Some believe our nation has never been more
complex, polarized, and siloed than now. We need leaders who have vision,
values, integrity and the ability to see beyond the narrow perspectives of one
side. We need lawyers to step up and play more active roles in their
Lawyers offer many skill
sets that are helpful in accomplishing goals and effectuating change. Law
schools develop students’ proficiencies in identifying and analyzing issues and
problems, and in communicating clearly and persuasively as necessary. Lawyers
know that negotiation and compromise may be necessary to move past gridlock.
Our code of professional conduct establishes an expectation of civility and
integrity in our actions.
Will we recognize that lawyers’ highest and best use is not as legal technicians (although that will sure be required)? Will we remember that our role as legal analysts, advocates and problem solvers allow us to effectively counsel and influence clients and organizations?
But the legal profession is at a crossroads as well. What will be the role of lawyers in society in the future? The profession is forever changed—we have an inkling of what’s to come with technology and the impact of artificial intelligence on our profession, but we don’t really know the full implications. Which of our traditional lawyering tasks will be automated? How will we adapt? Will we recognize that lawyers’ highest and best use is not as legal technicians (although that will sure be required)? Will we remember that our role as legal analysts, advocates and problem solvers allow us to effectively counsel and influence clients and organizations? Will we finally find a way to stem the tide of mistrust in lawyers and lack of faith in the institution that is our system of democracy and its rule of law?
Planning for what society needs from lawyers in the future is why we should begin to think about skills beyond learning substantive law or technical skills, which have been the focus of law schools traditionally. The skill sets needed as counselors and leaders—those who are going to help clients and organizations work through their issues—are going to be even more important to lawyers in the future. They will be just as important as professional responsibility, ethics, and service to the public. Leadership should be equally pervasive in our language as we teach our students about our obligations and opportunities as lawyers.
When I first pitched the idea of creating a leadership development program to our faculty, I focused the need for such a program because we know our Baylor Lawyers are going to serve as leaders in their communities and in organizations. So, shouldn’t we law schools better prepare them for this important role in society? Shouldn’t all law schools incorporate these skills into our core curriculum? As I discussed the concept with faculty and alumni, I got pushback from that, which required me to rethink why I thought it was so vitally important for today’s law students. Then I realized the topics covered in leadership development programming also help each one of us to be a more effective lawyer and more valuable employee. The skill sets and mindsets are advantageous for both roles.
As we think about how to most effectively teach and train this generation of law students, we’re focusing more and more on many different aspects: stress management, grit, resilience, and ability to accept feedback constructively in a healthy manner. All of these are essential parts of leadership development and are not matters that have been part of the law school curriculum or programming in the past.
Perhaps you have heard someone say leaders are born, not made. Perhaps you feel that way. We won’t dispute that not all of us will be THE leader of an organization. Who rises to the top or hired in as the leader of an organization is influenced by many variables – some (or most) may be out of your control. However, one of the aspects of the leadership development work we do is recognizing that all of us have the opportunity to influence, impact and affect those around us from whatever position we occupy and whatever relationships we create. Once we recognize that leadership development is about our own individual journey to improve and expand our abilities then we can get down to the business of growing! There is always room to grow and improve. The characteristics we are born with don’t define us completely unless we let them.
… One of the aspects of the leadership development work we do is recognizing that all of us have the opportunity to influence, impact and affect those around us from whatever position we occupy and whatever relationships we create.
Students in a leadership development program are collectively going through a journey of self-discovery, assessment, and growth in an environment that allows them the freedom to think about who they want to be and to have some guidelines in place that will help them stay true to that path. Every law graduate will be better equipped for the challenges they will face because they worked on developing skills, vision, and a moral compass that will facilitate their success and enhance their ability to make a difference in the world.
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Why Leadership Development for Lawyers?
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.