Newsletter Message
July 2019

By Leah Teague, Baylor Law

We hope you all had a productive spring term and are in the middle of exciting and fun summer plans before turning your attention to the fall. Thank you for staying in touch with us!

In this newsletter are highlights from the inspiring and informative conference at University of Tennessee. Our heart-felt thanks again to Doug Blaze and his gracious team for their superb job of hosting!

Other news we wanted to share with you:                                .

  • A Call for Papers and Program Announcements for the 2020 AALS Annual meeting
  • Invitation to Leading Differently Through Difference Conference at Hofstra University
  • Follow-up Articles from the Conference at the University of Tennessee

I want to pick up on something that Dean Blaze said in the closing session of the UT leadership conference as he and Deborah Rhode recounted some recurring themes. “This conference was preaching to the choir,” he said. He was right! He encouraged us to work together to expand our numbers and our influence. Again, he was right! And we should do so, but not just for our own gratification or because we think teaching “soft skills” to the millennials and Gen Z students is more necessary than it was for previous generations. The legal profession needs all of us in legal education to better prepare our students for the challenges they will face as they enter the workforce. We know leadership development programming does that.

Even more important than the need to better equip our graduates for their own success after graduation is the need to help them understand and embrace our obligation as lawyers to serve society. Our students need to know that their professional obligation does not end with their clients.  From the Preamble of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, “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… Lawyers play a vital role in the preservation of society.” Leadership training can instill in our students a sense of obligation to serve and opportunity to make a difference.

Also discussed during the conference was the need to establish a “whole building” approach to leadership development with everyone playing a role – from deans and tenured faculty to clinicians and professional staff. To make that a reality, we need to help our colleagues see not only the value to our students and the profession but also to our nation. Most will readily agree that society is in desperate need of more leaders who are trained in analyzing complex issues, problem solving, civil discourse, conflict resolution, active listening and negotiation. We, of course, need to make sure our students not only have those skills but also are committed to establishing their reputations built on integrity, competency and diligence. Our country needs us.

Our students come to us we the desire to use their legal training and law degree for good – to make a difference. Law schools need to feed that desire, not kill it and replace it with a purview of lawyers as hired guns driven by profit to commoditize legal services. Don’t get me wrong – we need to help our students to be successful financially in order to pay off those large student debts. However, we know from Professor Larry Kreiger’s work that lawyers’ happiness and well-being are not the result of external success factors (money, position) but rather from internal factors such as a sense of purpose and human connection.  

We have the opportunity to impact the future success and well-being of our students by being more intentional about developing them as leaders. We have an obligation to insure our graduates recognize the legal profession’s duty as guardians of our system of democracy. We have the opportunity to help our profession navigate the transition from the role lawyers played in society during the last two decades to what our role will be in the next.

Returning to themes of the UT leadership conference, we need to collaborate more, to inspire innovation and to support one another through the ups and downs of this effort to firmly establish leadership development as a fundamental aspect of legal education. Together we are building the foundation for leadership development for law students and lawyers.

Our country IS experiencing a leadership gap. We should be the profession to help fill it! Our students want to be part of the solution. Let’s provide the skills, knowledge and resources for them to do so.

Please join us by sharing with us your new courses, programs and other activities, by sending us other ideas for activities for the section, and by attending the next gatherings:

November 8, 2019 • Hofstra Law • New York, NY  

January 2-5, 2020 • AALS Annual Meeting • Washington, D.C.

March 26, 2020 • Baylor Law • Waco, TX

Have a great summer!

All the best,
– Leah Teague