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: