Each day I sort through old e-mail trying to catch up and usually find some gems. This evening I found an article I believe many of you will want to read. It is written by Don Polden, the dean of my alma mater.
Excerpt from "Educating Law Students for Leadership Roles and Responsibilities" (University of Toledo Law Review) [pdf]:
This essay articulates the case for educating law students for leadership roles and responsibilities they will assume throughout their careers. While leadership education is relatively commonplace in American business schools, it is not a familiar part of the law school curriculum at American law schools. This essay describes this new educational initiative and the fundamental reasons for this approach to preparing law students for the roles and responsibilities they will assume in their communities and in the legal profession. In particular, this essay discusses the components and purposes of the program and defines what is meant by education for leadership by lawyers. It also attempts to make the case that leadership skills and attributes are fundamental lawyering skills and that educating law students for leadership roles and responsibilities advances efforts to expose our students to a broader array of fundamental lawyering skills and values. This essay expresses the hope that legal educators and law firm professional development experts will build leadership training into their curricula and their programs.
II. THE GENESIS OF SANTA CLARA LAW’S PROGRAM FOR EDUCATING LAW STUDENTS FOR LEADERSHIP ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
My school, Santa Clara University School of Law, recently initiated efforts to educate its law students for leadership roles and responsibilities in the legal profession and in their communities. The programmatic efforts included a “first of its kind” course in leadership skills for lawyers, the development of some scholarship about the concept of leadership by lawyers, several discussions of the importance of educating law students for leadership roles, and leadership skills training for student leaders at the law school. Moreover, leadership course components are being constructed and used in a law school course with the hope that other components in other courses will be developed in the future.
Several purposes were served by launching this initiative at Santa Clara University. First, the education of students for leadership roles as lawyers is consistent with many aspects of the law school’s mission.1 The law school attempts to educate ethical, competent, and compassionate lawyers who are encouraged to make a difference in their communities and to prepare them for the
roles they will play in law firms, in the courts, and in government and public service. Indeed, Santa Clara’s law school offers a social justice and public interest certificate program that its students are encouraged to fulfill, and it has a long history of graduating public interest lawyers who serve their communities through service in government, social justice lawyering programs, and other public service positions.
Second, the law school benefited from several considerable assets that are unique to Santa Clara University. Robert Cullen, a prominent California attorney who has taught at the law school for several years, proposed the idea of a course in the subject of leadership for lawyers. He has taught the course for the past two years and it has generated a considerable body of literature and a very substantial following of law students who are interested in the course.2 A significant resource for the development of the course and the law school’s leadership initiative is an outstanding leadership curriculum in the Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. Barry Posner, Dean of the Leavey School of Business, is a leading scholar and teacher in the area of leadership skills for business professionals, academics, and administrators.3 Dean Posner assisted us in understanding the applicability of leadership principles to the work of lawyers and he helped us understand how instructing students in these essential skills would be beneficial to their success as lawyers and community servants. Finally, one of Santa Clara’s more prominent graduates, Stephanie West Allen, is a leading educator in the area of professional development of young lawyers and has been developing a rich core of ideas and materials on leadership skills for lawyers.4 Professional development is a burgeoning area of education and training in law firms and Santa Clara Law already has recognized the necessity of directly preparing its graduates for entry into the profession by creating its Academic and Professional Development program in 2005.5
Third, the development of this leadership program reflects our belief that leadership is a key skill that lawyers need to possess and demonstrate and that such a program can be taught in the law school context. The focus on leadership as a fundamental lawyering skill is consistent with national trends to rededicate the law school educational mission to the development of lawyering skills and values in young lawyers.
Click to read the rest of "Educating Law Students for Leadership Roles and Responsibilities."