January 24, 2008
Developing Lawyer-Leaders
Posted by Garry Jenkins


What do Angela Braly (CEO of Wellpoint), Ellen Futter (President of the American Museum of Natural History), Jeff Kindler (CEO of Pfizer), Deval Patrick (Governor of Massachusetts and former General Counsel of Coca-Cola), Bob Rubin (former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and a Citigroup executive), and Patric Verrone (President of Writers Guild of America West) have in common?  They are all lawyers by training.  I call them lawyer-leaders (as are many lawyers in more traditional legal positions, practice settings, etc.).


When I describe my teaching package, I’m frequently asked follow-up questions about one course, in particular: Lawyers as Leaders.  I created and taught the course for the first time in 2005-06 and have continued to teach it every academic year since. 


Here’s the course description:

For generations, lawyers and people with legal training have used their skills to reach positions of influence in all spheres of public and private life.  Combining readings on leadership theory, simulation exercises, and relying extensively on case studies featuring lawyers who have become successful leaders, this course develops a descriptive and normative picture of successful leadership in business, government, and the nonprofit sector.  Through the cases and exercises, students will gain experience analyzing issues, exercising judgment, and making difficult decisions – the hallmarks of skillful leadership.  The objective of the course is to help students think more broadly about leadership, increase their appreciation for the variety of leadership roles people with legal training may achieve throughout their careers, and prepare for positions of leadership themselves. (3 credits).

Clearly, I think leadership education needs to be a critical piece of legal education.  I would argue that leadership development is central to our mission.  If lawyers are to play key roles in the profession, in their communities, in government, in their organizations, they need to combine their legal skills with leadership skills.  When I talk to law students about their aspirations I become even more convinced.  Indeed, this should not be surprising because law schools are a rich source of intelligent and ambitious people.  Whether students are interested in public or private law issues or pursuing non-traditional career options, leadership issues abound. Even in traditional law firm practices, professionals taking on senior leaderships responsibilities (e.g., Managing Partner, Practice Chair, etc.) or important committee posts (e.g., executive, management, promotion, compensation, or strategy) must learn how to effectively exercise leadership in environments where many of the formal sources of power and authority are limited.


In addition to teaching the course, I’m also the co-founder and co-director of the Program on Law and Leadership at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Check out our website.  Established in the fall of 2007, the Program serves as the umbrella for all activities related to leadership and leadership development at the law school, including hosting guest speakers, creating mentorship opportunities, providing scholarships, designating relevant leadership courses, organizing skills workshops, and advising students. We aim to build a broad conversation and community of students, scholars, alumni, and friends committed to unleashing the leadership potential of those with legal training.


Just as the law is a noble pursuit, so is leadership.  Is there room for the substantive education of both in law schools?

| Bookmark

TrackBacks (0)

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Links to weblogs that reference Developing Lawyer-Leaders:

Recent Comments
Popular Threads
Search The Glom
The Glom on Twitter
Archives by Topic
Archives by Date
January 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    
Miscellaneous Links