In thinking about Leadership and Public Service, we went back to the all-important Model Rules that many of us rely upon throughout our professional lives.
As many of you know, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct begin with a Preamble that calls upon us to, “…devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.” There are many days when we wish that law students would have to memorize, write, and daily repeat these sentences to reinforce not only their importance but to remember we all made this agreement when we entered this noble profession.
Then we moved to Model Rule 6.1, which is where many of us go when we want to teach students about the importance of pro bono and the lawyers’ role in making our legal system more accessible to all: Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least (50) hours of pro bono publico legal services per year….
As we pondered these two foundational entries in the Model Rules, we wondered how this relates to the concept of leadership, what does it mean to be a leader who cares about public service, and can you be a leader and not care about public service? We think not. Furthermore, we think that if you are only focusing on the benefit you are giving and not the benefit you are receiving, you might be missing out, both in terms of personal satisfaction and professional growth.
We think being a leader means doing action that is in alignment with your values and that law is a service profession at its heart. Through our schools’ pro bono and public service programs, we simultaneously fulfill our commitment to public service and instill the importance of service, as well as our skills, competencies, and experience, in the next generation of legal practitioners.
And though this all sounds altruistic, we think you will find that at the end of the day, you will benefit most. We tend to think effective leaders have all the answers. We tend to think of leadership as a static status. When we remember that at its heart lies action, we realize that the actions required are based on humility: centering on the persons we are assisting and asking the right questions. Though we are desperately needed for our knowledge, we cannot impart it without building relationships. It is through relationships – not our knowledge or our status – that we demonstrate true leadership.
Pro bono and public service provides an opportunity to build our relational skills with emerging lawyers and the clients who have put their trust in us. These skills will transcend these relationships. Building our relationship muscles will take us farther as professionals, colleagues, family members, and community leaders than our knowledge alone ever could.
We think the fundamental questions we all need to be asking each other, and even more importantly, asking those we are assisting, is what does service mean to them, how will they serve, and how will they use their experience to reach the goals for which we all strive – access to justice for all?
April is National Volunteer Month. To celebrate, this month’s focus is service. The calling as lawyers to be servant leaders is needed now more than ever. We spend considerable time helping our law students develop their professional identities. Service should be a significant component. As our first post in this series, we hope to collect and share information about how law schools promote pro bono and public service.
At Baylor Law, we recently hosted our annual Student Awards Ceremony, where we recognized our students who have gone above and beyond in their pro bono service. We encourage students to engage in service during law school by recognizing them for the number of hours volunteered or their contributions in specific programs, such as the Veterans Clinic. Recognition in the Pro Bono and Public Service Program starts at 50 hours and builds up to 225+ hours, at which point the student is recognized at graduation as a Public Interest Fellow (as long as the student has also completed some specific public interest focused coursework).
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!
We would love to see other examples of ways to encourage future lawyers to make service an important part of their professional formation. Please tell us how you encourage service at your law school.
Does your law school have a mandatory or voluntary program?
Either way, what do you do at your school to recognize law students who have gone above and beyond?
Do you give awards or certificates?
Do you hold an awards ceremony?
Please share in the comments section or by direct email to Stephen_Rispoli@Baylor.edu. Of course, the comments will be available to everyone, but we will compile the results at the end of the month and share them in a follow-up post on this blog to synthesize the information.
During a recent trip to Spain, I noticed how old and new meshed in the towns and cities of the country. Ancient, cobbled streets housed modern shops; beautiful facades from centuries past contained modern kitchens and baths courtesy of IKEA. Even those structures which stood intact had eroded with the passage of time, cannons, and pigeons. It struck me that this process of addition and subtraction permeates our lives, particularly in our professional formation. We often focus on what we need to add to our resumes, our skill sets, and our professional lives, and these new acquisitions can play a valuable role in developing professionally. We need continuing education as lawyers to maintain our skills and our licenses. We need to tackle new tasks and learn new law to help new clients. We need experience to be effective lawyers and leaders.
I think we may be less intentional about subtraction as a crucial part of the professional formation equation. To become wise counsel, we must become observers of life, recognizing those traits that lead to wholeness and being willing to let go of those traits and habits that erode us. Subtraction can take many forms: letting go of the need to control what we cannot; setting healthy boundaries regarding our time and relationships; acknowledging that we will not always win and that perhaps, we should not always win in the legal setting. Eroding the need to be perfect and to be right often feels wrong to those of us who have been the gold star getters of life. Remember gold stars? Those little magic signs that we were the best? I still remember the specific adhesive taste on the back of the gold stars I licked and put on countless charts during my life. But a relentless quest for achievement and perfection often elbows out authenticity because no one is on top and right and perfect all the time.
As teachers and mentors to our students, we can help with their professional formation when they observe in us the ability to be wrong, to rise from setbacks, and to acknowledge that failure is part of the profession. When we allow that erosion of perfection to happen, what is left may not be perfect, but it is authentic. Authenticity allows us to be better and more credible advocates and counselors. As professors, we give better advice and more effectively mentor when we acknowledge our own evolving process of flawed humanity.
How can you, as part of your professional formation journey, balance the addition and subtraction in that process? Where are you holding on to life-draining habits and practices, and where could you be adding value to your leadership and professional life? How can you guide your students through a process of reflection and action? One potential way to achieve this involves making two lists. On one, identify which investments of your time, energy, and attention made the most impact on your professional life last year, and on the other, which made the least? Reflect on what those lists reveal to you about what you might add and what could be subtracted from your life to add more value. We note that while this exercise works in your professional formation journey, it is equally interesting to ask this question broadly about your life.
Intentionally considering how your time is spent, what adds value, and how you want to change is an important and ongoing part of the professional formation process. Once you identify areas to change, monitor how you feel about having let something go. Do you feel relief? Do you miss that person or activity? Sometimes letting go of things we feel we should do but don’t really want to do can be the next big step in our development.
As you lead your students through this exercise, we recommend presenting this as a long-range planning tool. Remind them that life as a law student and as a lawyer comes with days and tasks that are not fun, easy, or comfortable. Law students must prove themselves capable of completing challenging tasks or assignments. Lawyers must gain the trust of their clients by meeting their obligations with integrity. Short-term sacrifices are sometimes necessary to ensure long-term success. Yet even in these challenging periods, we can find perspective and clarity to envision our futures.
Like the quaint towns I visited in Spain, each of us can have a future that is a magical mixture of old and new. Building new skills and relationships laid on the foundation of our authentic values and hard-earned life experiences can lead to exciting opportunities and meaningful engagements in our communities. And, if well lived, our journeys can help others along their own paths.
We were on spring break! In past years, I might have been glowing in the sun (literally, glowing from too much sun on my fair skin despite my best attempts to heed my doctorâs warning); in other years, we were skiing in the mountains. But not this year. I was in Waco preparing for the Baylor Law Vision 2020 conference, working on our textbook, and trying to whittle down that ever-growing To-Do pile. It was not going to be a leisurely week no matter what! But a pandemic was not in the plan. Spring Break 2020 will forever be remembered for COVID-19.
On March 11, Dr. Linda Livingstone, our University President, announced the University would take an extra week of Spring Break and that we should be ready to start teaching online March 23rd, making up the lost week before finals. The extra week off caused us concern with only 4 weeks left on our quarter system (we normally have 9 weeks of class with 70-minute class periods). Making up a full weekâs worth of classes in the remaining 4 weeks amidst all the other challenges would have been nearly impossible! So, true to the Baylor Law spirit, our law faculty sprang into action and began teaching using online platforms the following Monday with only 5 days to learn technology that most had never heard of (like Kaltura, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams). A few understood WebEx but who knew you could narrate PowerPoints?! Yes, a few classes needed extra days to get up and running, but oh my goodness, did they rise to the challenge! Converting a traditional brick and mortar law school to a virtual one in five days â WOW!
Like all of you, we at Baylor Law are now fully online AND our faculty is serving as the front line for communication with their students to offer help and support for those in need. I have seen hard-nosed professors reach out to individual students to listen, counsel and advise or direct those struggling. They are making a difference in the lives of their students and I am so proud! Together we will get through this!
Kudos to the faculty and staff across the country who are working so hard to make it happen! We are witnessing countless examples of leadership in action!
Weâre now in our third week of online classes. Our faculty have been meeting (virtually, of course) every few days to make important decisions. We decided early on to stay with our grading system and to address accommodations on an individual basis. Because we are small â student population of 430 â we are better equipped to manage this decision. We spent the last three weeks determining what adjustments we can make to our policies and procedures to help our students. We quickly extended the exam period and doubled the normal number of reading days. Instead of our typically tight exam schedule, they now have a break every few days during the exam period providing more time to study in between exams.
We committed to giving students easier access to accommodations without having to pay additional tuition to take away that financial burden. We adjusted our policies with regard to drops, withdrawals, and incompletes. We added grade relief through a new tuition-free, retake policy that only applies to courses taken this term. No student will lose any scholarship, now or in the future, because of these grades. These operational decisions were thoughtfully considered and debated during numerous faculty meetings and countless emails in between. The faculty focused on prioritizing the current needs and wellness of our students while balancing the short-term vs. long-term implications to their education and professional training. I truly am blessed to work with colleagues who care so deeply for our students while also remaining dedicated to our mission of preparing our students to be ready to serve and to lead in times such as these!
Our staff also has been amazing! A skeleton crew is here with me every day to support the work of the faculty and staff working from home and to meet the needs of our minimum and essential business operations. Although they are adjusting to working from home, they want to stay connected and to help, especially to support and encourage our students. They are offering tips and advice about best practices. They are reaching out to check in. We are scheduling virtual gatherings and socials for student groups. All the while our colleagues are juggling their own home daycares, schools, delivery services, and whatever else is needed for their loved ones. I am meeting virtually with the staff once a week and our conversations focus on what can they do to help one another and our students. Truly inspiring!
Our Student Relations Committee (student leaders along with appointed faculty and staff representatives) also meet once a week to give voice to the studentsâ concerns and to brainstorm solutions to issues. We are hosting a leadership summit next Monday to visit with the officers of our student organizations about leading virtual meetings and events focused on their missions.
And oh my goodness has the number of emails, phone calls, and texts exploded! We are using all manner of communication vehicles to attempt to alleviate the anxiety of our students, as well as others (including us!). Faculty and staff are putting in long hours each and every day to assure the well-being, education, and professional training of our students continues, albeit, virtually.
As we tell our students, it is in times such as these that lawyers rise to the occasion. We know our alumni are out there working just as many hours, and more. They are carrying the weight of not only their clients â who are greatly impacted by the COVID-19 disruptions â but also that of their children who must be home-schooled and their high-risk loved ones who must be cared for and protected. We thank them for what they are doing to model for our students what professionalism and leadership looks like.
I had hoped to get this message typed and delivered last Thursday or Friday to mark the time that was supposed to be the Vision 2020 Leadership Conference. We were so looking forward to welcoming many of you to our beautiful city and law center. I knew, however, you would understand that a message from me could wait. A month ago, as we were deliberating what to do about the conference and I really wanted to continue with the conference but convert it to a completely virtual conference. Clearly, one of the silver linings of our current situation is the shove we all got toward acquiring new skills using technology to work and congregate virtually. How innovative it would have been to be the first to host a virtual leadership conference for law schools!
Two realities stopped us from going forward. First, the chaos of the transition for all of us to a pivot on a dime towards a new work dynamic and to learn new tools and techniques to teach and do our jobs. We have all been consumed. We were concerned about the time to pull together such a novel concept and for it be a âwowâ event, which is always our goal. Second, and for me even more important, there is great benefit through the personal connections of people gathering in the same room, sharing stories over cocktails, brainstorming during breaks, and focusing on a live speaker rather than multi-tasking at your computer at home. I am not advocating that these benefits cannot occur in a virtual world. Clearly they can. Last Saturday evening I participated in my first virtual Happy Hour and I loved it! The difference is that my Happy Hour was with a small group of people with whom I already have a relationship. Developing relationships that allow for effective sharing of ideas takes time. It is hard to âmeetâ people and spend any meaningful time getting to know them if they are in a group gathering online with 100 people for a one-time event. This is one of the challenges of this online world of education â how to connect at a personal level when the class is large.
All that to say, we were greatly disappointed that our conference, like the rest of our events and our lives, was disrupted by COVID-19. We will set a date in the Fall as soon as we can. We hope even more of you will be able to attend in person or virtually, but mostly hoping you will be able to travel to our fun city and our beautiful building on the Brazos River to fully engage with one another.
I hope you are all doing well in our new, temporary reality!
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.
Hereâs 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 schoolsâ formal curricula, in the authorâs 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 studentsâ 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 studentâs team members can use the model to observe and assess a studentâs current stage of development and give feedback to help the student grow to the next stage. Reflecting on self-assessment, teamwork experiences, and othersâ 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 Cruiseâs interrogation scene in A Few Good Men illustrates an attorneyâs 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 attorneyâs 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 Schellâs 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. âA lawyer is a
representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen
having special responsibility for the quality of justice.â
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 â intellectual curiosity â 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. Donât we owe it to them to equip them with more than just
the ability to critically analyze an issue? Donât 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 â14, Leadership Development Fellow
Lawyers are in a unique position when they enter the workforce. We usually donât start at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy. Most start somewhere in the middle.Â Â 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 couldnât
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 Rhodeâs seminal work â Lawyers as Leaders â provides an invaluable framework for the discussion.
Joining the discussion are:
â¢ Dean Matthew Diller, Fordham â¢ Dean Garry Jenkins, Minnesota â¢ Professor Deborah Rhode, Stanford â¢ Dean Gordon Smith, Brigham Young â¢ 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 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.