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Book Review: Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership

by Patty Roberts

This is the second year I am using Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership for the Law & Leadership seminar at St. Mary’s University School of Law. When looking for a book, I wanted one that intentionally focused on the student’s skill-building, one that would offer a number of mechanisms for them to assess their own leadership style and skills, and ways that would enable them to improve those skills and develop the style they find most effective. Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership is the perfect book for meeting these goals.

The book is divided into four parts – Leadership Fundamentals, and then Leadership of Self, with Others, and within Community. There are numerous leadership inventories recommended that students can be assigned, and journal prompts that require their reflection on their results. Leadership character, traits, and characteristics are covered extensively, but also the necessity of followership, giving and receiving feedback, and overall wellness. Each chapter prompts robust discussion among the students, and they draw on the lessons learned in later chapters or when we have a guest speaker who is a role model for the topics being covered that week. The book is accompanied by useful teaching materials.

Finally, I greatly appreciated the focus on integrity and character, grit and growth mindset, and impactful service within one’s community. The book has an excellent balance of self-reflection and exploration of the most effective ways to work with others. Students recognize themselves in some of the chapters and identify aspirational traits and characteristics on which they want to focus. The book’s carefully structured chapters ensure that students develop a leadership plan internally, and then identify ways for external influence for the greater good. It is an ideal book for exploring leadership with lawyers, and will also prove instrumental for those who choose to utilize it in support of professional identity formation.