Just as the newsletter was going to “press,” we all began to face the personal and professional challenges arising from COVID-19.  I hope everyone is healthy, safe, and successfully navigating educational distancing. 

Everyone is adjusting as necessary, including Leah Teague and Baylor Law.  The terrific conference planned for last month, and mentioned below, is being rescheduled to the fall.  Stay tuned for more information and please plan to attend.  It will provide a great opportunity for all of us to catch up and share our experiences.

Crises like these present powerful leadership lessons for all of us.  I encourage everyone to share teaching ideas and experiences through the section listserv.   I have received lots of great suggestions from members of the section about specific teaching challenges, like how to replace experiential field placement opportunities when the placements close. 

We are all in this together.  Stay safe and good luck!

The second year of our Leadership Section was a tremendous success!  While a lot of people contributed significantly over the past year, special thanks are due to the section chair, Leah Jackson Teague, and Deborah Rhode, the immediate past chair.  Without their vision, leadership, and hand work, there wouldn’t be a Leadership Section.

By all accounts, the section program at the annual meeting was inspiring and thought-provoking – and in the top ten of program attendance.  Everyone I have talked to spoke very highly about the remarks of the panel members, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez, Judge Robert Wilkins of the DC Circuit, and LSC President Jim Sandman, and the moderator Dean Martha Minnow.  (While I was sorry to miss it, I am pleased to report that leadership training has a firm foothold at the University of Queensland law school in Brisbane). Fortunately, the audio recordings and transcript of the program are available in this newsletter.  Thanks to Stephen Rispoli and the folks at Baylor for making that possible.

I hope everyone is aware of the upcoming Vision for Leadership Conference hosted by Baylor Law School, March 26 and 27 in Waco, Texas. Leah Teague and her team have put together a wonderful conference.  As you will see from the schedule, the program includes prominent leaders from the legal profession, legal education, the judiciary, and politics.  I encourage everyone to consider attending.

The Baylor symposium will be the fourth in a series of successful leadership conferences – Hofstra, Tennessee, and Santa Clara – since our section was approved.  Be sure to check out the article in this issue by Ellen Yaroshefsky about the Hofstra Leading Through Difference Conference. 

Over 85 law schools now have leadership courses or programs.  Kate Barton highlights one of them, the Konduros Leadership Development Program at the University of South Carolina, in this issue.    Section membership is now over 250.  You have a committed, enthusiastic group of people serving on the Executive Committee.  We all look forward to working with you over the next year to maintain the momentum.

Under the leadership of Don Polden, plans are being developed for the Section Program at the 2021 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco.  The theme for the meeting is “The Power of Words.”  If you have suggestions, I encourage you to contact me, Don, or any other member of the Executive Committee.

We could also use your help on another issue.  We have yet to find a simple, accessible, and organized method to share course materials, syllabi, and program information with each other.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know. 

Thanks to all of you for your interest, energy, and effort.  Your work matters.  You are making a difference in the personal and professional lives of our students.   You are helping to advance our understanding of leadership and leadership development.  You are having a very positive impact on the future of our schools, our profession, and our country.

Thanks.  I look forward to working with all of you.



Report from the AALS Annual Meeting

By Leah Teague, Immediate Past Chair

For the second year (of our 2 years in existence) our program was in the top 10 in terms of attendance for section programs! That should tell us that we are on the right track! We are excited about the growing recognition that law schools need to do a better job of equipping our students for the leadership roles we know they will assume as lawyers. In my opening remarks, I expressed my appreciation to Martin Brinkley, Dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law, for the way he framed our work. During our section breakfast meeting that morning, Dean Brinkley asked “Why are we not looking at this issue as a gap in legal education that must be filled?” We agreed that we all should.

Learning from Lawyer-Leaders Throughout the Profession

For those who were not able to attend the annual AALS meeting in Washington, D.C., you missed a great program, “Learning from Lawyer-Leaders throughout the Profession.” Our program was cosponsored by Professional Responsibility and Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities sections. We were encouraged by the many new faces in attendance.

Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor and former dean, Harvard Law School, moderated an all-star panel of lawyer-leaders: Judy Perry Martinez, President, American Bar Association, the Hon. Robert L. Wilkins, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and James J. Sandman, President, Legal Services Corporation.

Professor Minow began by asking each panelist to share their journey to leadership. She described hers as “accidental leadership.” None of our panelists had a grand plan for leadership early in their career and yet each has honorable served in influential leadership roles. All agreed they learned helpful skills such as analytical and advocacy skills in law school. As Judy Perry Martinez observed, we teach students about “gathering information, listening earnestly and then acting, taking action.” Judge Wilkins added he was inspired by professors who cared about “the world and big ideas.” Martinez was motivated in law school by stories of lawyers “making an impact,” and lawyers taking on cases to change laws and pursue reforms and “push for change” to help people without voice or resources to do so on their own. Jim Sandman shared that in retrospect he realizes now that his “first training and experience in leadership” came in law school through his work as executive editor of his law review and “[n]ot through the curriculum.” Judy Perry Martinez added that there also are “disabling aspects of law school, particularly when it comes to collaboration, when it comes to self-awareness and when it comes to taking a sense of initiative, risk taking. We cultivate belt and suspenders approaches to life, rather than be on the edge.”

Our own development as a leader is certainly a life-long pursuit, but how much better will it be when our law students have a head start that none of us did?

You can listen to the the audio recordings at or read the transcript of the session at https://baylor.box.com/s/pwbmlz4xzilz20jb900zkxwy7nx7d198

The transcripts include timestamps and speaker names. They were created to allow you to quickly read through the panel discussions. Please note: the transcripts were created using third-party technology and may contain transcription errors. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Here are some additional gems of insight from the session:

From Martha Minow: “there’s a wonderful essay that compares the use of the case method in different professional schools, and argues that medical schools historically use it to develop diagnostic skills. Law schools, analysis involves taking problems apart. Policy schools, generating options, imagining writing memos for somebody who’s going to make a decision. Business schools, the best version of it is judgment, the other version of it is just making a decision and never looking back. When I read this, I thought my goodness, we each have to do all of those things, so why do we sort it out across all those different schools? We all need to do all of those things.”

From Jim Sandman: “There was nothing in my law school curriculum that touched leadership at all. I don’t recall the word having been spoken. My impression is the legal education has changed a lot… But my sense also is that it’s still an entirely optional basis. That there are still huge numbers of law students who complete their formal legal education without having touched training in leadership. I think we need to do something…. I think knowing how to lead is as important a lawyering skill as learning how to think like a lawyer. It’s critical to your effectiveness in persuading people,  … you could be the greatest analyst but if you can’t communicate your analysis in terms that others can understand, you can’t persuade people of the value… Other things that I think are important, how to build a consensus, how to motivate others, how to listen, how to ask good questions…. How to work with a team… How to get asked to lead, how to be asked to raise your hand… Those are some of the universal skills that I think are part of leadership that can and should be taught in law, and not on an optional basis.”

From Judge Robert Wilkins: “I’m not sure what the answer is or what law schools can do about it but it just seems to me that there are a lot of people who come to law school with big ideas, maybe law schools could do more about trying to help you think about how they can achieve those goals that they put in those personal statements. But then there’s the world and there’s the reality of making a living and all of that…”

In response to Judge Wilkins observation, ABA President Judy Perry Martinez offered, “This answer or this suggestion may come as no surprise to those of you who know the work of the ABA, who know the opportunities of the organized bar in general at any level, but I think the perfect, perfect solution there and the opportunity there is to encourage engagement of your law students from the very get go in the organized bar. I would love it to be the American Bar Association, and I will tell you I will make that happen for any of you in this room, or any of your students who want to engage but it doesn’t have to be because it can be the local, the state, the specialty bar, any way that they want to engage. But that’s where you find passion. That’s where you find hope. That’s where you hone leadership skills. That is where you feel needed. That is where you feel you’re making a difference when you’re contributing an hour a month or 10 hours a week.”

Professor Minow then mentioned a student film project as part of one of her classes in which she encouraged her students to advocate for a cause about which they are passionate. I looked up the project and encourage you to do the same. The 5 films are available on the Boston Globe website at https://www.bostonglobe.com/2019/11/18/opinion/legal-lens-home/. Here is the description: “The films address the recent elimination of Temporary Protective Status for longtime immigrants raising their American-born children in the United States; displacement of working-class families due to economic development in a harbor-front community; challenges navigating work and home due to historic treatments of pregnancy and parenting; threats to a residential neighborhood posed by flooding risks at an oil and gas facility; and challenges returning home for a military veteran with untreated trauma and a criminal conviction.” These are great examples of opportunities for law students and lawyers to get involved to make a difference.

Our esteemed panel also discussed “how to lead in a crisis” and “intergenerational leadership. What does it mean, what does it require, what does it entail to lead organizations and groups of people, or people that are coming from different generations?” In answering questions from the audience, they touched on helping our students understand “servant leadership,” “leading from the middle,” and how to be effective by adding value and “building relationships and credibility.” Also shared were stories of satisfaction, fulfillment and sense of purpose that come from helping others by using our legal skills through pro bono and public service work.

Their conversation was insightful, motivational and encouraging for our future. I encourage you to read the transcript or listen to the audio. Special thanks to Martha Minow, Lee Fisher, Dean and Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and Buck Lewis, shareholder Baker, Donelson, for putting together our fabulous program!

Whole-Building” Approach to Leadership Development of Law Students

Following our panel was a presentation chosen from our call for papers and delivered by Thomas Sneed, Associate Professor & Director of the Law Library, Washburn University School of Law. His presentation was the first in what will be an annual segment of our section program which will be known as the “Whole-Building” Approach to Leadership Development of Law Students.” Each year, we will issue a call for papers that highlights varies roles that divisions and departments of the law schools can play in the leadership development of our students. We will showcase how leadership development programming can be integrated throughout students’ law school experience. In the first of these presentations Professor Sneed encouraged us all to involves our librarians to help build our leadership development programs. He has an upcoming article in the UMKC Law Review.

Co-sponsored programs

During the annual meeting we also co-sponsored three other section programs:

  • AALS Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession, “An Empirical Look: How Well Are We Preparing Law Students to Become Ethical Leaders Who Serve Others.”
  • Women in Legal Education Section, “Teaching Law in a #MeToo World.”
  • Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities Section, “Pro Bono and Public Service: Pillars of Democracy and the Legal Profession,” also co-sponsored by Empirical Study of the Law & Legal Education

Several of us also attended the program hosted by Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, entitled “Cultivating the Hard Skills of the Whole Lawyer: Lawyers as Leaders.” The panel was moderated by Lee Fisher, Dean and Joseph C. Hostetler-Baker Chair in Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Dean Fisher and his team did an excellent job of making the case for leadership development in law school while showcasing the program at Cleveland-Marshall.


Leading Differently Across Differences Conference

On November 8, 2019 more than 250 lawyers, academics, deans, judges and public service professionals gathered for a day long interactive conference at the Bar of the Association of the City of New York to explore why it is so difficult to diversify the legal profession. The conference challenge was “Why don’t we do better in leadership around equity and inclusion?”

Organized by the Freedman Institute for Legal Ethics at the Maurice A Deane School of Law, it was cosponsored by the AALS Leadership Section, seven New York area law schools, the New York State Unified Court System, several prominent national law firms and private sponsors. The planning committee included the AALS Leadership Section executive committee whose members are national figures in leadership training.

The conference asked and sought to provide answers to: How do we promote leadership training in law schools in a more inclusive and forward-thinking manner? How does the profession and the academy confront the need to develop cultural competence, deal with gender, race, and other identities affecting full participation, and address generational differences? Why have we not done better in equity and inclusion? The conference acknowledged that legal profession and law schools exist in a time of profound changes in the culture and in lawyering across various fields and it behooves us to do better.

The introduction by conference organizer, Professor Ellen Yaroshefsky, noted that we do not even have a common language and framework to discuss these difficulty issues. We are communities of many identities and relationships to power. We can be privileged in one environment but excluded in another. The notion of who is an insider and who is an outsider is relative depending on the environment in which one finds oneself. We need to change ourselves, our colleagues and our institutions. This conference of intense and engaging discussions attempted to begin that process.

NYU Professor Tony Thompson’s introductory keynote was a provocative presentation that addressed why leadership training is necessary and what it means in a diverse world. He challenged us to make diversity, equity and inclusion the center of leadership training. How do we do it?

Professors Susan Sturm and Akilah Folami then engaged in a conversation that began to explore this question. They noted that we need to begin to navigating a set of tensions as part of both lawyer-leadership development generally and building the capacity to navigate across difference. Law may be reactive, but leadership is proactive. Lawyers learn to be risk averse, but leadership requires risk-taking. These tensions, among others in legal training, present profound challenges and we sought to begin to drill down to identify skills and competencies necessary to enable the next generation to confront these challenges.

The conference explored these issues through interactive panels and presentations about law practice, and the legal academy. The academic panel with Deans Angela Omwuachi-Willig of Boston University School of Law, Dean Song Richardson of the University of California, Vice Dean Ann Cammett and Dean of Admissions Degna Levister, both of CUNY Law School and Professor Susan Jones of George Washington Law School provided concrete ideas to diversify law schools. Among the suggestions was to change the pipeline into law school by reexamining admission criteria. Law schools should start relying heavily on applicants’ past history demonstrating emotional intelligence, grit, perseverance and other factors instead of the LSAT and grades main paradigm. Consider more than standard measures of success. Other concrete suggestions included changing syllabi and exercises to incorporate methods of learning beyond casebooks; to change the 1L curriculum to reflect a more diverse culture; create spaces to confront unfairness entrenched in the law; talk about and normalize experiences of failure to relieve pressure on students; create effective mentorships; reduce costs whenever possible by considering use of older casebooks and online readings; and provide implicit bias trainings for all students and faculty alike on an ongoing basis. Overall, on this panel and the others throughout the day, there was agreement that one day diversity trainings are insufficient. Race and gender needs to be included in every conversation, particularly ones around leadership training.

The panel entitled Leadership on Cross Cultural Competencies: Race and Ethnicity, drilled down into particular competencies necessary for effective leadership including experiences of growth by “learning to be uncomfortable” in exploring race and ethnicity. The remarkable panelists from the bench, bar and academy challenged the audience to have frank and difficult conversations, to start reframing issues when discussing diversity with white colleagues, to recognize that race and gender are difficult topics, and that cultural change comes via short term shifts. Judge Julie Bernard of the Massachusetts District Court described how she and others worked moved that court toward greater equity and inclusion by constant engagement, not a day long implicit bias training.

The Leadership and Gender panel began with Professor Sweetha Ballakrishnen exploring the issue of how we define gender followed by Professor Deborah Rhode discussing the structural impediments to the advancements of women in the profession. The engaging conversation among panelists including former federal Judge Shira Scheindlin, Aisha Greene, the director of attorney development at the Cadwalader firma and Cecilia Loving, the Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department who had remarkable success in diversifying the fire department.

The unique panel that ended the day was Leadership Across Generations. Listening to the perspectives of millennials, Gen X and Gen Z pointed to the critical need to address cultural differences among generations including issues such as work-life balance, work direction, mindfulness and most significantly, coping with student debt. These lawyers and law students who are future of this profession challenged the audience to change and to acknowledge incorporations of new voices in leadership.

The excitement in the room throughout the day was palpable and there is an acknowledged need to continue these conversations and develop concrete plans to move forward. This includes developing resource materials for law schools, ongoing conferences and programs and vehicles for effective communication.

Many have asked if the conference was recorded. It was not because the panelists wanted the opportunity to speak freely.

The following reading includes books and articles on leadership, diversity in the profession, race and ethnicity in the training of lawyers, gender and the legal profession and students as leaders and is first step to accomplishing this goal.


  • Anthony C. Thompson, Dangerous Leaders: How and Why Lawyers Must Be Taught to Lead (2018)
  • Deborah Rhode, Lawyers as Leaders (2013)
  • Stacey Abrams, Lead From the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change (2019)


  1. Donald Polden, Lawyers, Leadership, and Innovation, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 427 (2019)
  2. Barry Z. Posner, Leadership Development in Law Schools: Myths, Principles, and Practices, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 399 (2019)
  3. Deborah L. Rhode, Preparing Leaders: The Evolution of a Field and the Stresses of Leadership, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 411 (2019)
  4. Rachel F. Moran, The Three Ages of Modern American Lawyering and the Current Crisis in the Legal Profession and Legal Education, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 453 (2019)
  5. R. Lisle Baker, Character and Fitness for Leadership: Learning Interpersonal Skills, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 525 (2019)
  6. Douglas A. Blaze, Law Student Motivation, Satisfaction, and Well-Being: The Value of a Leadership and Professional Development Curriculum, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 547 (2019)
  7. Neil Hamilton, Leadership of Self: Each Student Taking Ownership Over Continuous Professional Development/Self-Directed Learning, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 567 (2019)
  8. Louis D. Bilionis, Law School Leadership and Leadership Development for Developing Lawyers, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 601 (2019)
  9. Leah Witcher Jackson Teague, Training Lawyers for Leadership: Vitally Important Mission for the Future Success (And Maybe Survival) of the Legal Profession and Our Democracy, 58 Santa Clara L. Rev. 633 (2019)





  • Deborah Rhode, Women and Leadership (2013)



These materials can be accessed at:



Konduros Leadership Development Program – University of South Carolina School of Law

For this edition of the leadership program spotlight, we will focus on the Konduros Leadership Development Program at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Now in its fifth year, the Konduros Leadership Development Program was created following a gift from Jim Konduros, a 1954 alumnus of the law school with a distinguished career in both law and state government.  The program starts with an application process in the fall, followed by a series of leadership sessions occurring in the spring.  For 2020, the program extends from January to March and features eleven sessions covering topics such as handling a crisis, ethical leadership, and emotional intelligence.   

Jan Baker, Assistant Director of Legal Writing at the law school, directs the Konduros Program.  Baker reports that applications for this year’s leadership class exceeded the number of applications from prior years.  From nearly forty applicants, sixteen students were selected to participate this year.  “We look for well-rounded students,” Baker noted.  “We were interested in seating a diverse class that included a good mix of second and third-year students.  It was important to us to bring students to the table who have different back stories.  Their diverse backgrounds, academic interests, life experiences, and personalities have made this year’s leadership class exceptional in every respect.”

The Leadership Program is organized into weekly sessions.  Each week, students meet with attorneys and other community leaders to discuss different leadership principles.  Students begin with a communications workshop that teaches them how to communicate complex material and difficult subjects to varied audiences.  Students also work on a case study involving a law firm crisis in which the students take on the roles of the partners in the firm and work to figure out how they will respond to the crisis to make sure their practice, their clients, and their employees weather the storm. 

Over the course of the program, students engage in a number of personal assessments.  So far, they have completed a True Colors Assessment, a Team Player Assessment, and a Workplace Leadership Assessment.  Baker described the assessment process as both revealing and entertaining:  “It has been entertaining to watch the students process their assessment results – some of them have been quite surprised when their assessment results reveal positive leadership-oriented attributes that they did not self-identify.”

The capstone project for the Leadership Program is a leadership initiative project.  In their first meeting, students are organized into small groups based on their True Colors Assessment.  Each group is responsible for identifying a local societal problem, working to create a plan to resolve the problem, and presenting their project results at the conclusion of the program in March.  This year, students will be working with local agencies to distribute resource packets to the city’s homeless population, organizing a lending closet for law students who need to borrow professional attire for job interviews, working with the law school’s Pro Bono Program to catalog legal resources for rural communities, and working to create a partnership between non-profits and state agencies to repurpose building materials to be used in skills training programs in juvenile detention facilities.  

“I can’t say enough good things about these students,” Baker said.  “The Leadership Program is not offered for academic credit – these students volunteer to participate in this semester-long program because they are interested in readying themselves for service and leadership.  Their dedication is both impressive and inspiring.  I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in their careers and in their communities.”

For more information on the Konduros Leadership Development Program and the 2020 Program, visit the following: