Dear AALS Leadership Section Members,

AALS President, Mark Alexander, has challenged us to embrace this year’s theme of Defending Democracy.  “We have a special role to play in saving our democracy from the very real dangers that threaten us and our country.  [O]ur democracy is the lifeblood of a free and fair society and … is worth being defended with action and resolve.”

How does this theme relate to our AALS Leadership section? 

We must educate transformational leaders who will be positioned to serve in public office and other institutions that uphold our democracy.

We are witnessing a scarcity of leadership in our government institutions, most notably in our Congress and state legislatures. I am referring to true leadership—the kind that acts with integrity, respects the rule of law, understands respectful debate, and treats others with dignity and respect. These might sound like wistful qualities of yesteryear, but these qualities are very real and necessary to a healthy democracy and must be taught and reinforced.

Lawmakers must build coalitions, even with those with whom they disagree. They must listen and act respectfully. They must understand that compromise is essential in a functioning democratic system. We need leaders who display character, create collaborative cultures, and foster inclusive environments that uplift and inspire. Most importantly, leaders must be motivated by a higher good – our democracy and those whom we serve.

As legal educators, we can help our students understand what leadership is and what it looks like in action. Our students have a keen sense of character, service, and equity and we can reinforce and explore these qualities with them, empower them to embrace their innate compassion and humility and teach leadership skills that will equip them as they move forward to defend our democracy. 


April M. Barton, Chair


I am grateful to our outgoing Leadership Section Chair, Dean (now President!) Garry Jenkins, for his wisdom, leadership, and collegiality. I have learned much from him and appreciate all that he has done for our Section over the years. He is a shining example of exceptional leadership and we wish him the best in his new role as President of Bates College!

I am also grateful for our AALS Leadership Section 2023 Executive Committee who are already working hard to make sure we have programming for all of our members throughout the year. 

Executive Committee Members are:

Lee Fisher, Chair-Elect
Dean, Cleveland State University College of Law
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law

Martin H. Brinkley
Dean and William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor
University of North Carolina School of Law

Joan MacLeod Heminway
Rick Rose Distinguished Professor of Law
Interim Director, Institute for Professional Leadership
The University of Tennessee College of Law

Susan R. Jones
Professor of Clinical Law
The George Washington University Law School

Tania Luma 
Assistant Dean, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Clinical Professor
Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Stephen Rispoli
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives
Director of Innovation and Scholarship, Executive LL.M. in Litigation Management
Baylor University School of Law

Hillary A. Sale
Associate Dean for Strategy
Agnes Williams Sesquicentennial Professor of Leadership and Corporate Governance,
Professor of Management
Georgetown University

Aric K. Short
Professor of Law & Director, Professionalism and Leadership Program
Texas A&M University School of Law

Leah Witcher Jackson Teague
Associate Dean and Professor of Law
Baylor University School of Law

Kellye Y. Testy, 
President & CEO
Law School Admission Council


Expanded Conversations about Professional Identity and Leadership at AALS 2023

Aric K. Short | Professor of Law & Director, Professionalism and Leadership Program
Texas A&M University School of Law

          At this year’s AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego, there was a noticeable increase in the number of presentations and panels related to professional identity formation and leadership development from prior years. This heightened attention may stem, in part, from the newly-implemented ABA Standard 303, which requires all law schools to provide students with multiple opportunities for professional identity formation and training in anti-racism and bias. But it also likely reflects an increasing recognition within the academy that the competencies and values associated with professional identity formation are critical to preparing our students for a successful and rewarding career in law.

          Below is a sampling of topics addressed by panels and presentations on professional identity formation and leadership at this year’s Annual Meeting:

  • How to effectively spread the load of providing professional identity formation opportunities across the entire law school enterprise, including faculty and staff (sponsored by the Section for Associate Deans for Academic Affairs and Research);
  • Ways to weave training on bias, cross-cultural competencies, and anti-racism into the law school curriculum (sponsored by the Section on Civil Rights);
  • Specific techniques for helping students explore and form their professional identities from orientation through their last weeks of law school (sponsored by the Sections on Balance and Well-Being in Legal Education, Academic Support, Clinical Legal Education, Student Services, and Teaching Methods);
  • Practical tools for effectively implementing anti-racism training (sponsored by the Section on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Professionals);
  • Suggestions on how to move beyond diversity to equity and inclusion in law school teaching (sponsored by the Sections on Teaching Methods, Academic Support, Balance and Well-Being in Legal Education, and Minority Groups); and
  • Exploring ways that leadership training in law schools can bring about positive change in society and for the clients our students serve (sponsored by the Section on Leadership).

In addition to these formal opportunities to discuss the theory and practice of professional identity formation and leadership, there were countless informal discussions about strategies and best practices that occurred during the Annual Meeting. All of this AALS attention on Standard 303 topics aligns with the growing number of workshops, symposia, and other efforts in broader academia addressing professional identity formation and leadership.

Of particular note to section members, the Holloran Center at the University of St. Thomas School of Law is hosting a symposium/workshop later this month for authors of casebooks used in required law school classes: “Transitioning from Student to Lawyer: Infusing Professional Identity Formation into the Required Curriculum.” Over 20 authors from all four major casebook publishers are scheduled to attend and present ideas for more formally incorporating Standard 303 themes into existing courses. Be on the lookout for articles synthesizing these ideas in a forthcoming issue of the St. Thomas Law Review.   


Teaching Lawyer Leadership from A Desk Chair

Joan MacLeod Heminway | Rick Rose Distinguished Professor of Law
Interim Director, Institute for Professional Leadership
The University of Tennessee College of Law

As an advocate for leadership education in law schools, I often find myself answering questions from faculty and staff colleagues at other law schools about the courses in my institution’s law leadership curriculum and the nature of our co-curricular and extracurricular programs.  I am always happy to respond to those inquiries and share syllabi, teaching materials and methods, program ideas, and more.  But in the three years that I have been administering the leadership curriculum at The University of Tennessee College of Law, I have come to see more and more clearly that some of the most effective lawyer-leader education is accomplished through one-on-one and small-group engagements with students in office hours and meetings.  My evidence is anecdotal, but my observations may resonate.  I share a few here.

Teaching leadership in these individual and small-group settings may sound like an inefficient delivery system for law school leadership instruction.  If you have that reaction, I understand.  I also initially believed that I could impact more students in more ways by teaching them about lawyer leadership in larger classes.  And that may well be true.  Accordingly, I am not here advocating abandoning lawyer leadership education in that formal, large-group instructional setting.  Providing leadership education through traditional classroom teaching provides a compelling, credible, and (in some cases) necessary foundation to personal leadership discovery and development. 

Yet, experiences I have had in working with students on leadership strengths, weaknesses, and processes have led me to open my eyes to and think more about the value of personal, customized educational settings in the teaching of lawyer leadership.  Ultimately, I have determined that significant, influential, and (yes) efficient lawyer leadership education can and does occur in smaller, less formal instructor-student interactions outside the classroom or other structured academic activity.  There is great joy in this type of teaching, which can focus in closely on the specific emergent needs of a student.  This teaching environment tends to be a bit more organic and less intimidating than others in law school leadership instruction.

There are two specific contexts in which I have found that individual or small-group lawyer leadership lessons may be particularly efficacious: in response to a non-systemic professional development crisis and in situations involving a need for specific process guidance on a pressing matter.  Lawyer leadership, as an aspect of professional identity, can be deeply personal.  Both contexts—personal professional development crises and emergent questions relating to a course of conduct—require a deeper, more individualized dive into what may typically be core topics in a foundational course on lawyers as leaders.  Said another way, these environments involve contextual, customized applications of leadership principles.

I am sure that many have had the experience of advising law students who are contemplating leaving law school or otherwise altering the course of their professional future.  Those conversations can be important settings for the teaching of lawyer leadership, including self-leadership.  Counseling and teaching in this setting often involve not only assisting the student in more precisely identifying the root of their professional angst but also linking that root cause to leadership styles, attributes (including character strengths), strategies, and tactics. 

No doubt some also may have received law student requests for guidance in overcoming resistance to change or objections to important initiatives.  Perhaps the student is facing a challenge to their work from a more senior (or otherwise important) person on a project team.  Counseling and teaching in these circumstances may engage matters of leadership process in a frontal way.  Core questions asked in these settings may include: “How do I work with others to achieve my professional or personal goals in the face of this opposition?  What steps do I take and how do I engage them?”

Teaching in these situations can be challenging, yet very rewarding.  Approaches may draw from the full breadth and depth of the educator’s experience.  As a result, a variety of instructional methods can be useful.  In some circumstances, for example, analogous narratives—storytelling involving others who have faced the same or similar quandaries—can aid in introducing a law student to approaches to consider or reject. 

Moreover, as is true in the classroom, the application of concepts discovered or tested through academic research may play a key role in both teaching and learning in these more individualized settings.  Again, many common tools in the leadership instructor’s toolkit may be employed successfully.  For instance, one can imagine the PERMA theory of well-being from positive psychology coming in handy, or one might instruct on the “feel, felt, found” method of overcoming objections or (as I have written about elsewhere) business management models for leading change.

Finally, it seems relevant to note a side benefit of thinking and talking about the teaching of lawyer leadership individually and in small groups.  That side benefit: the prospect that the informal and personal nature of the teaching may encourage more of our colleagues to think of themselves as law leadership instructors and may engage them with lawyer leadership concepts.  Student advising is part of the everyday activity of an engaged law professor (including, e.g., counseling on academic projects, course selection, and career development).  Recognition of the role these advisory encounters can have in teaching lawyer leadership and using these types of meetings as vehicles for teaching or reinforcements of building blocks for professional development allows for a natural and logical dispersion of the responsibility for leadership instruction across the law faculty.

I hope that many of you will consider focusing on teaching lawyer leadership from your desk chair in addition to teaching lawyer leadership from behind a podium.  Personalized law leadership teaching can be a rewarding and powerful experience.  It can change student lives.



Greetings, I hope your fall semester continues to go well—with Winter Break not too far off.  I am pleased to introduce the newest edition of our Section on Leadership newsletter and to provide a short update on the Section on Leadership and our upcoming activities, most notably the AALS Annual Meeting in January 2023.

After years of dealing with the public health crisis, this will be our first in-person meeting in three years.  I hope that many of you will make an extra effort to join us in San Diego for what will surely be a stimulating meeting and a joyous reunion. 

While we are still a relatively new Section (our inaugural section program was held in New Orleans in 2019) by AALS standards, we continue to grow and attract new members interested in advancing leadership development and leadership studies in law.  This year, as a Section, we are focused on rebuilding our community and our maintaining our positive momentum.   This year we are hosting our own session on “How Teaching Leadership Can Make a Difference” (Saturday, January 7 from 8:30-10:10 am) and co-sponsoring a session on “Incorporating Access to Justice & Pro-Bono Across the Law School Curriculum” (Thursday, January 5 from 3:00-4:40 pm).

It has been a great honor to serve as a chair of the Section and work alongside a terrific Executive Committee. 

Thank you all for your continued efforts and engagement to grow and expand the leadership field.  Our work continues to be both important and needed.  I look forward to seeing you in San Diego.

All the best,

 – Garry


Leadership Can Make A Difference: Section Program at AALS Annual Meeting

Saturday, January 7, 2023 • 8:30 AM

The Section on Leadership will conduct its annual meeting and program at 8:30 a.m. to 10:10 a.m. on January 7, 2023, in San Diego, California at the AALS Annual Meeting.

Program Description:

This year’s program is “How Teaching Leadership Can Make a Difference” and will feature outstanding national leadership experts discussing how teaching leadership skills and abilities can lead to significant changes in the legal profession, governance of institutions, and others.    Those speakers are:

Dean Erwin Chermerinsky (UC Berkeley Law), Professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Boston University Law), Professor Hilary Sale, (Georgetown Law), Dean Garry Jenkins (Minnesota Law), and Farayi Chipungu (Harvard Kennedy School of Government).  Dean April Barton (Duquesne) will serve as moderator of the panel.  All members of the Section on Leadership are encouraged to register for the 2023 Annual Meeting and make plans to attend the Section program and the Section’s Annual Business Meeting.  For more information, please contact Dean Garry Jenkins or Dean April Barton


Pop-Up Survey Results


Kathy Vinson:

I recently wrote a short article, The Great Resignation or the Great Joy in Higher Education:  Lessons from the Pandemic that discusses how leaders in higher education can help their faculty rediscover their joy at work and prevent faculty burnout, the great resignation, etc.:


Kathleen Elliott Vinson
Professor of Legal Writing
Director of Legal Writing, Research, and Written Advocacy
Suffolk University Law School

Michael Collatrella:

Leading Law Schools: Relationships, Influence, and Negotiation 

91 University of Cincinnati Law Review No. ___ 2022

This article explores how quality relationships with one’s constituents, especially faculty, lie at the heart of successful law school leadership. Achieving meaningful institutional goals is a group endeavor, and a law school leader must have the skills and abilities to focus faculty energies and enthusiasms to a unified vison. To marshal those energies and inspire those enthusiasms, a leader must master the triumvirate leadership skills of (1) relationship building, (2) influential power, and (3) negotiation with faculty. If one is to be a successful leader in law school environments, formal or informal, one must accept the premise that the power to lead is one that law school faculty grants a person. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4086895 

Michael T. Colatrella Jr.
Professor of Law
University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law 

Brian Gallini:

Pandemic Leadership

University of Toledo Law Review, Vol. 52, 2021

This piece tells the story of my cross-country move to take on a first law school deanship amid a global pandemic. There is no shortage of literature about leadership outside the realm of academia. Indeed, there are a number of engaging books about leadership philosophies, styles, and guidance. But those materials are not tailored specifically to leadership roles within legal academia. Moreover, there is little scholarly literature advising deans on how to lead a law school. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, there exists even less literature advising deans on how to lead a law school during a global pandemic.

My hope for this piece is to expand the body of scholarship advising deans on how to lead a law school. This Article offers my early thoughts—first-year pandemic thoughts, to be exact—about the ways law school administrations can cultivate and maintain a strong culture focused on producing passionate and skilled lawyers. Part I tells the story of my transition from the University of Arkansas to Willamette University College of Law. Part II puts you firmly in the saddle of an administration tasked with learning to run a law school from scratch. Part III reflects on lessons learned from doing so.


Brian Gallini
Dean & Professor of Law
Willamette University College of Law

Leah Teague:

Leadership is the answer for the changes to ABA Standards 303 and 508

Part 1: https://traininglawyersasleaders.org/2022/03/10/amendments-to-aba-standards-support-the-objectives-of-leadership-development-programming-part-1/

Part 2: https://traininglawyersasleaders.org/2022/03/15/amendments-to-aba-standards-support-the-objectives-of-leadership-development-programming-part-2/ Part 3: https://traininglawyersasleaders.org/2022/03/17/amendments-to-aba-standards-support-the-objectives-of-leadership-development-programming-part-3/

Leah Teague
Professor of Law
Baylor University School of Law

Garry Jenkins:

Leadership Evolution: The Rise of Lawyers in the C-Suite

The traditional thinking about the path to the top corporate executive leadership posts, reaching the so-called C-suite, is that it begins with earning an MBA degree. By contrast, the JD degree is thought of as one that prepares graduates for the practice of law, for government service, or for public interest advocacy. Since lawyers have historically been trained to protect clients from risk, law is not associated with senior business leadership. Yet, an evolving and accelerating trend is emerging: more lawyers are reaching or crossing over to become part of top corporate management teams. We present findings from our empirical study on corporate leadership profiles that documents a rise in the status of and opportunities for corporate lawyer-leaders and tracks major shifts in lawyers holding senior executive posts over time, thereby challenging the conventional wisdom on corporate talent management.

This Article takes the new law and leadership discourse into quantitative empirical research, and it challenges the traditional conception of the MBA degree as holding the key to a corner office. By examining the changing composition in the C-suites of Fortune 50 companies over the last thirty years, this Article documents the dramatic shift in the percentage of lawyers holding those most powerful corporate leadership posts. It then addresses the implications of these findings for those who aspire to corporate America’s highest heights, for the corporations seeking to develop new leadership talent, and for law schools inspiring and training a new generation of lawyer-leaders.

Garry W. Jenkins & Jon J. Lee, Leadership Evolution: The Rise of Lawyers in the C-Suite, 96 TULANE L. REV. 695 (2022).  


Paul Radvany:


Lawyers serve as leaders throughout our society, and it is more important than ever that these leaders are effective in order to address the country’s challenges. Yet few lawyers have had any formal leadership training. Contrary to popular belief, leadership opportunities are not limited to those who serve in traditional positional leadership roles because leadership is increasingly thought of as an influence process. Thus, lawyers have many opportunities to lead, including leading their colleagues who are peers. As a result, the opportunities to lead can come early in a lawyer’s career, even in law school. This Article provides a framework for students to learn and practice leadership skills while taking a clinic. The clinic is an ideal setting to teach leadership because so much of the work is accomplished by teams in a collaborative manner. The author adopts a Shared Leadership Model of collaboration where students take turns leading and supporting each other throughout the semester. Clinical professors are ideally situated to provide leadership training as they are experts in teaching skills. As a result, by using the Shared Leadership Model, students will have the opportunity to learn and practice leadership skills in an experiential setting and be equipped to lead early in their careers.


Kathy Vinson:

I’m reading the following 2 books:

Unraveling Faculty Burnout and 
Global Lawyering

Brian Gallini:

Frances Frei & Anne Morriss, Unleashed

Stephen Rispoli:

Grant by Ron Chernow


Review of Don Polden and Barry Posner’s new book, Leading in Law

“In Leading in Law, Barry Posner and Donald Polden make a persuasive case for why leadership studies should be included in the modern law school curriculum.  Well-organized and accessible, this book introduces law students to leadership theory and offers them practical ways to develop an important professional skill.  Law faculty will find it an effective pedagogical tool; one which prompts students to think more deeply about their own professional identity as members of the legal profession.” 

 Paula A. Monopoli, Sol & Carlyn Hubert Professor of Law, University of Maryland Carey School of Law

“This book is fantastic. It’s comprehensive, well-written, and easy to read. Great use of research findings and examples. It’s a winner!”

Doug Blaze, Dean and Art Stoinitz & Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tennessee College of Law

“This is an outstanding textbook by two leading scholars in the field for a law school leadership course. The greatest strength is the excellent reflection questions at the end of each chapter.”

Neil W. Hamilton, Holloran Professor of Law and Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions


I am writing to bring the members of the Section on Leadership up to date on activities within the Section and to provide some information about the upcoming Section Annual Meeting in January 2022.  It goes without saying, that the work of the Section, like all of legal education and much of the country, has been working through the lingering effects of the pandemic, a gradual economic recovery, and continuing efforts to improve the national (indeed, international) climate for diversity, equity and inclusion.  It equally goes without saying that these challenges all require effective, ethical leadership; everywhere.  That call to action is the reason for our Section. 

The Section leadership was pleased to arrange and sponsor (through the great assistance of AALS’s Clarissa Ortiz) a “Section Social” on October 19th.  It provided a great opportunity for about 35-40 Section members to discuss their leadership classes, share information on syllabi and course coverage, and how the Section can provide additional resources to its members. 

The following paragraphs will describe the activities of the Section, its leadership group (the Executive Committee) and the excellent planning that has gone into preparations for the annual meeting program. 

I will look forward to joining members of the Section on a virtual annual program session in January of 2022.  Please contact me at [email protected] for more information. 

It has been a great honor to serve as the Chair of the Section this past year and the entire Section has benefitted from the terrific leadership of the Executive Committee. 

Thank you and…Lead On!

– Donald J. Polden


Section Program at AALS Annual Meeting

The Section will hold it’s Annual Meeting program during the Annual Meeting of the AALS.  The annual meeting will be conducted remotely.  Here is the information about the Section’s program:

Leadership Education as a Component of Anti-Racist Education in Law Schools

Program Description:

Leadership education for lawyers continues to grow as more schools offer courses on leadership or integrate leadership development into existing courses and co-curricular efforts. At the same time, law schools are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate more anti-racist education into their programs. This AALS Leadership Section program will focus upon how and why faculty who teach leadership in law schools should incorporate anti-racist education into their content and methods. We will explore possibilities both for stand-alone leadership courses as well as how required courses – particularly those in professional responsibility — are an opportunity to introduce these valuable concepts to all students. The panel will provide a forum to discuss the potential of reframing our required professional responsibility courses to include introductory leadership development with an emphasis on equity and belonging and will also address effective ways of including cultural competency, equity, and belonging in independent law and leadership courses.


Kellye Y. Testy, President & CEO Law School Admission Council


April M. Barton, Dean & Professor, Duquesne University School of Law

Danielle M. Conway, Dean & Donald Farage Professor of Law, Pennsylvania State Dickinson School of Law

Garry Jenkins, Dean & William S. Pattee Professor of Law, University of Minnesota School of Law

Co-Sponsored by Clinical Legal Education, Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities, Professional Responsibility, Minority Groups, Law School Admission Council

Time: Sat January 8, 2022 from 3:10-4:25 p.m. EST.      


Recognizing A Founder: The Deborah Rhode Award, and Joint Section Program on the “Impact of Deborah Rhode”

The Section on Leadership has worked closely with three other AALS sections that were, like our Section, founded in significant part by Deborah, or on which her leadership had a considerable impact.  The Sections on Professional Responsibility, Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities, and Women in Legal Education have joined together to honor the legacy and contributions of Professor Deborah Rhode. 

The four Sections joined to create an Open Source Program on Deborah’s contributions to legal education and the work of the sections at the Annual Meeting.  Dean Garry Jenkins of the Section was instrumental in planning the program.  The program will be held on January 5, 2022, at 3:10-4:25 p.m. Please make plans to attend to honor Deborah’s contributions to our Section and to legal education.  

Those sections also combined to get AALS recognition and approval for a joint-section sponsored award, The Deborah Rhode Award.  The award will be made (remotely) at the January meeting of the AALS, during an award session on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, at 12:35 p.m..  Please schedule your attendance at this important award ceremony.  The first joint-section award will be made to two outstanding scholars, teachers and leaders:  Professor Stacy Butler of the University of Arizona School of Law and Professor Wendy Greene of Drexel University School of Law.  The Section thanks Dean Doug Blaze for his work representing the Section in the planning for this inaugural award.


Leadership of the Section of Leadership 2021-22

Here is some information on the Executive Committee of the Section.  This is an experienced and effective group of legal educators who themselves have led teams and organizations and have brought that expertise and passion for leadership to their work on the Section:


Donald J. Polden, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law, Santa Clara University


Garry Jenkins, Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law, University of Minnesota

Immediate Past Chair:        

Doug Blaze, Dean Ererisus and Art Stolnitz and Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law, and Director of the Institute for Professional Leadership, University of Tennessee College of Law


April Barton, Dean and Professor of Law, Duquesne University School of Law

Susan R. Jones, Clinical Professor of Law, The George Washington University

Hillary Sale, Professor of Law, Georgetown Law School

D. Gordon Smith, Dean and Woodruff J. Deem Professor of Law, Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School

Kellye Testy, President and CEO, Law School Admission Council

Ellen Yaroshefsky, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Howard Lichtenstein Distinguished Professor of Legal Ethics, and Executive Director of the Monroe H. Freedman Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics, Hofstra Law