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


Nominations for Executive Committee

The Section’s Nominations Committee is soliciting recommendations and nominations for membership on the Executive Committee and for the position as Chair-elect for the 2022-23 year.  Please send your nominations to the Section Chair, Donald Polden, at [email protected] for consideration by the Committee.   

The Nomination Committee will prepare a slate for approval in connection with the annual meeting in January 2022. 


Leadership Education Cannot be Decoupled from Anti-Racism Education

By Kellye Y. Testy, President and CEO, Law School Admission Council

For many years law schools did not educate their students in leadership skills. Law was focused on the brain. “I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush; you leave thinking like a lawyer,” said Professor Kingsfield. Thought to be more the realm of EQ than IQ, leadership education did not fit the prevailing rubric. And besides, lawyers naturally became leaders – look at all those U.S. Presidents. Finis disputationis.

Many of us sought to change that mindset and encourage leadership to be taught in law schools. Why? Because leadership can be learned and, as it turned out, lawyers were not naturally so good at it – particularly after three straight years of a largely Kingsfieldian diet. Yes, lawyers were expected to be leaders, so why not actually lend them a hand at developing these skills during law school?

Thankfully, today, the need for leadership development in law schools is increasingly accepted and most law schools offer courses and programs to support their students’ growth.

Yet something is missing. And what’s missing lies at the heart of leadership.

Most current law school leadership development programs do not have an anti-racism component. This is a grave oversight. Leadership is not abstract or acontextual; it is action for or toward something and that something should always have equity and belonging at its core and as its goal.

To that point, educating law students to be leaders cannot be decoupled from educating law students to be anti-racist. Nor can it be decoupled from anti-bias education on other fronts including gender identity, sexuality, disability, age, ethnicity, religion, and all their intersections. The reason is clear. Equality remains out of reach for many. While significant progress has been made, the promise of equal justice is still on the horizon, not living among us.

Including anti-racism education in leadership development programs isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the most effective way to teach leadership. Leadership is a human endeavor and we all have identities that matter in how we lead and how we receive leadership. Leadership development requires the hard work of self-reflection so that we understand not only who we want to be but who we are perceived to be by those we seek to lead. We must remain mindful that our intentions and our impact may diverge.

Further, self-deception and other forms of woundedness limit our capacity as leaders and racism is one of the most pernicious in this regard. Racism infects every aspect of leadership, contorting our view of who we see with “leadership potential” and contorting how we interact with leaders who are different from us. Racism also contorts how we lead because the damages of racism are real and may, without intervention, take a toll on our ability to lead to our fullest potential.

Understanding these harms and knowing how to address them and to make changes toward equity so that they are reduced are core aspects of leadership education. For these reasons and more, educating law students to be leaders cannot be decoupled from educating law students to be anti-racist. Finis disputationis.


Proposed Amendments to ABA Standards Create Opportunities for Leadership Programs to Help

By Leah Teague, Baylor University School of Law

The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is considering several amendments to the ABA Standard on Legal Education that reinforce the need for, and value of, leadership development. Three important topics that should be taught as part of robust leadership development programs or courses will become mandatory for law schools if adopted by the Council. The proposed amendments are in Standards 303 (professional identity), 303 (bias and cross-cultural competency), and 508 (student well-being).

As I see it, the broader mission of values-based leadership development is three-fold:

  • encourage law students and lawyers to embrace their obligation to serve clients and society,
  • better equip law students for positions of leadership and influence, and
  • inspire law students to boldly seek opportunities to make a difference in their communities and the world.

The proposed amendments to Standards 303 (professional identity), 206 (bias, cross-cultural competency and racism) and 508 (student well-being) align with this mission and are important aspects of a law student’s preparation for professional life after law school. Notably, both of the leadership textbooks for law students  address all three of these issues. One, of course, is Deborah Rhode’s Leadership for Lawyers (a third edition has recently been released) and the other is our textbook, Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership.

Professional Identity

Lawyers’ role as leaders in society IS a fundamental part of lawyers’ professional identity. The proposed amendment to ABA Standard 303(b) requires law schools to “provide substantial opportunities to students for:

… (3) the development of a professional identity.”

The proposed Interpretation 303-5 reads:

Professional identity focuses on what it means to be a lawyer and the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society. The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice. Because developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over time, students should have frequent opportunities for such development during each year of law school and in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.

At the core of leadership development efforts is awakening law students to “the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society.” For a visual model of the development of a law student’s professional identity, see the Holloran Center’s Model for How Law School Learning Outcomes Build on Each Other to Foster Student Development. The model presents five groups of competencies in a visual layered progression of law school learning outcomes to help students “grow[] from being a new entrant to the profession to being an integrated effective lawyer serving others well in meaningful employment.” In Group 5 (complex, compound competencies) is “Leadership and Influence in Organizations and Communities,” For a discussion of these competencies, see Neil Hamilton’s Mentor/Coach: The Most Effective Curriculum to Foster Each Student’s Professional Development and Formation. For a discussion of the role of lawyers as leaders in society, see the Preface and Chapter 2 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership and Chapter 1 of Leadership for Lawyers.

Bias, Cross-cultural Competency and Racism –

New efforts to encourage diversity, inclusion and cultural competency education are included in proposed amendments to Standard 303. Additional amendments to Standard 206 are still under consideration.

Amendment to Standard 303

The Council is also considering an amendment to ABA Standard 303 to add (c):

A law school shall provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism:

(1) at the start of the program of legal education, and

(2) at least once again before graduation.

For students engaged in law clinics or field placements, the second occasion will take place before, concurrent with, or as part of their enrollment in clinical or field placement courses.

The proposed Interpretation 303-6 reads:

With respect to 303(a)(1), the importance of cross-cultural competency to professionally responsible representation and the obligation of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law should be among the values and responsibilities of the legal profession to which students are introduced.

The proposed Interpretation 303-7 reads:

Standard 303(c) may be satisfied by:

  1. Orientation sessions for incoming students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism;
  2. Guest lectures by experts in the areas of bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism;
  3. Courses on racism and bias in the law; or
  4. Other educational experiences that educate students in cross-cultural competency.

While law schools need not add a required upper-division course to satisfy this requirement, law schools must demonstrate that all law students are required to participate in a substantial activity designed to reinforce the skill of cultural competency and their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.

The proposed Interpretation 303-8 reads:

Standard 303 does not prescribe the form or content of the education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism required by Standard 303(c).

Many find this subject difficult to teach but the importance of the topic cannot be understated which is why coverage of diversity and inclusion have been a mainstay in lawyer-leadership programs from the beginning. Leadership courses and programs have already developed methods for teaching these concepts in a respectful and meaningful manner. For example, Chapter 17 of Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership is titled “Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Intelligence” and combines the coverage of diversity and inclusion with bias and cross-cultural competency. Chapter 8 of Leadership for Lawyers is titled “Diversity in Leadership.” These issues have always been present in Deborah Rhode’s leadership books but the recently released third edition textbook includes additional material on diversity and inclusion, as well as updated exercises, problems, and media resources.

I note that we are adopting a term used by Professor Neil Hamilton. We now refer to this topic as “Diversity and Belonging” which calls us as leaders to seek ways to help each member of our team or group or organization, especially those who have different backgrounds and life experiences, feel valued as a contributing member of the effort.


The amendment to Standard 508 would add (b) to require law schools to provide students with “information on law student well-being resources.” The proposal also calls for the law schools to work to remove the stigma of accessing mental health and well-being supports on campus and within the legal profession.

Proposed Interpretation 508-1 reads:

Law student well-being resources include information or services related to mental health, including substance use disorders. Other law student well-being resources may include information for students in need of critical services such as food pantries or emergency financial assistance. Such resources encompass counseling services provided in-house by the law school, through the university of which the law school is a part, or by a lawyer assistance program. Law schools should strive to mitigate barriers or stigma to accessing such services, whether within the law school or larger professional community.

Proposed Interpretation 508-2 reads:

Reasonable access, at a minimum, involves informing law students and providing guidance regarding relevant information and services, including assistance on where the information and services can be found or accessed.

If approved, attention to student well-being will be added to the law school accreditation standards for the first time. For students to use their legal knowledge, skills and competencies to achieve their goals (i.e. self-actualization), they must learn to care for themselves and tend to issues related to mental and physical health. In Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, Chapter 11 (The Importance of Well-Being: Thriving in the Legal Profession) discusses the dimensions of health and shares resources and techniques for long-term practices and habits. In Leadership for Lawyers Chapter 2.D, Rhode discusses the evolution of well-being, the underlying causes of stress in the legal profession, and suggestions for positive strategies.


With every conversation with leaders in our profession, the importance of our efforts and need for leadership development in law schools is confirmed! Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work!


Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership Abstract

Lawyers are leaders, which makesleadership an essential aspect of lawyers’ professional identity. Leadership development is about helping students see themselves as leaders who will use their legal knowledge, skills and competencies to solve problems and serve others as they work toward common goals. Their leadership occurs when representing and advising clients as well as serving within their communities. Just as developing legal skills is a life-long endeavor that begins in law school, so does growing as a leader. Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership was written to help law schools guide law students through a process to understand and own their professional identity as a lawyer, to self-assess their strengths and weaknesses, and to equip them to work well with others. By enhancing their legal education with leadership skills they will be better equipped to accomplish their goals and better prepared to be difference makers in society.

In Fundamentals of Lawyer Leadership, we explore the aspects of leadership that law students can develop and improve during their time in law school. This textbook begins in Part I (Overview of Leadership) with the study of “leadership” as a process whereby an individual has influence on another (or a group) to achieve a common goal. As lawyers, our students will have the opportunity to help and serve no matter what title or position they hold in an organization. Law students need to recognize that their position as a lawyer in our society is a leadership position as they advise clients and organizations and as they serve in their communities. In Part II (Leadership of Self: Growing into Leadership), student begin, or continue, their leadership journey with a look inward to examine their professional identity – who they are, what type of lawyer they want to be, and how they will lead. Topics covered include characteristics of leadership (traits, skills and competencies, including those traditionally developed in law school); fixed vs. growth mindset; grit and resilience; feedback and failure; well-being; integrity and character; preparedness and setting goals. In Part III (Leadership with Others: Effective Group Dynamics), we turn our attention to help our students develop their ability to interact effectively with others. We cover topics such as emotional intelligence; relationships and influence; strategic communication; and diversity, inclusion and cultural competency; effective management; and working within legal organizations.  Finally, in Part IV (Leadership within Community: Service and Impact), we encourage students to seek opportunities to use their legal training and other talents and gifts to serve society in ways that are meaningful to them and that can have a significant impact on others. We challenge them to consider what legacy they want to leave. This section can be used when emphasizing leadership for change and encouraging law students to use their legal skills to effectuate desired goals in areas about which they are passionate.

Additional recommendations when using the book:

  • Guest speakers: Leadership and professional identity/development courses and programs provide a wonderful opportunity to bring your alumni and high-profile lawyers into the classroom to interact with students and share their experiences. We select guest speakers who can reinforce or help us teach the chapters assigned for that session.
  • Experiential Learning: Role playing, exercises, small group discussions, and discussion boards are used as regular components. Many samples are provided in the book with additional options available – and new ones being added all the time – in the Teacher’s Manual.
  • Student Journals: A powerful tool as part of the student’s experience, journaling personalizes and internalizes the concepts discussed in the book and during class interactions. We start with the sample journal prompts but often adjust them after class to respond to the discussion or address a point that needs emphasis. Witnessing their growth as we read their journals is one of the most satisfying teaching experiences we have!

Read more, access the Teacher’s Manual and sample PowerPoint slides, and request a complimentary copy here: https://www.wklegaledu.com/Teague-Leadership. The textbook chapters also can be used as modules for stand-alone programs or incorporated into other courses. We want to make it easy to create a class or supplement a program so we continue to develop teaching materials (notes, exercises, PowerPoint slides, etc.) to accompany our book.


Third Edition of Deborah Rhode’s Leadership for Lawyers Now Available

Leadership for Lawyers is the first coursebook targeted for leadership courses in law schools. Now in its third edition, this text combines excerpts from leading books and articles, accessible background material, real-world problems and case histories, class exercises, and references to news and entertainment media in areas of core leadership competencies. Author Deborah L. Rhode has edited four well-respected books on leadership, developed one of the first law school courses on leadership, and written widely on the subject in law reviews and mainstream media publications.

New to the Third Edition:

  • Increased coverage of diversity and inclusion
  • New discussion of stress, wellness, and time management
  • Coverage of recent ethical scandals and dilemmas
  • Updated problems, exercises, and media clips

Professors and students will benefit from:

  • Excerpts from foundational texts, engaging overviews of core concepts, discussion questions, class problems, and exercises that address real-world issues.
  • Links to short segments from movies, documentaries, and news broadcasts for each major topic.
  • Materials on moral leadership and scandals that make for highly engaging discussion on “how the good go bad.”
  • Coverage including key theoretical and empirical issues concerning the nature and qualities of leadership, the role of ethics, gender, racial, ethnic, and other forms of diversity, pro bono and public interest work, and core competencies such as decision making, influence, communication, conflict resolution, innovation, crisis management, stress and time management,  and social and organizational change.

Click here to learn more and request a professor review copy: https://www.aspenpublishing.com/Rhode-Leadership3.


A Fireside Chat on Leadership with Former Governor Jim Edgar of Illinois

On Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021, the University of Illinois College of Law’s Leadership Project hosted former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar for a “fireside chat” on the topic of leadership. Governor Edgar served as Illinois’ 38th Governor from 1991 to 1999 and previously served as Illinois Secretary of State and as a member of the Illinois General Assembly. During his years of public service, Governor Edgar established a reputation as a strong leader who could reach across the aisle to get things done.

The Leadership Project co-hosted the event in conjunction with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs and the Student Bar Association at the College of Law. Assistant Dean Greg Miarecki, the director of the College’s Leadership Program, moderated the session alongside Akshay Soman, the Student Bar Association’s current President. In-person attendance at the fireside chat was limited to current students, and alumni and friends of the College from around the world participated via Livestream, with over 100 attendees in total.

Governor Edgar shared his perspectives on leadership – learned from more than 30 years in public service. Governor Edgar offered some key takeaways:

  1. The definition of leadership is the ability to take people where they don’t want to go, but know they need to go. For that reason, it is critical that a leader secure and maintain the trust of his or her followers.
  2. Teamwork is critical to leadership. A good leader must assemble a team that will tell him or her when he is wrong, and create an environment where all team members feel that they belong. Importantly, a good leader should work to promote their team members and move them into progressively more responsible positions over time.
  3. Good leaders are problem solvers. They are able to identify the issue, provide a solution, and work with everyone around him or her to implement it.
  4. Good leaders are able to compromise and work with others who have differing views. Often, the result of the compromise is better than any one side could have achieved on its own.

Click here (www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rit2gVwU3Y) to view the entire session on the College of Law’s YouTube channel.

The College of Law’s Leadership Project is planning additional programming in the next few months, including a continuing legal education program on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022, where the panel will discuss Donald T. Phillips’ book – Martin Luther King, Jr. on Leadership: Inspiration & Wisdom for Challenging Times. Click on the link below to learn more and to register:

College of Law – Events Calendar: CLE: A Discussion of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Leadership – Inspiration & Wisdom for Challenging Times (illinois.edu)


Tennessee Journal of Leadership, Law, and Policy

The TN Journal of Law and Policy has changed its name and its content orientation, to include leadership.  It is the first law journal/review that is dedicated in any part to lawyer leadership.  The new title is TN Journal of Leadership, Law and Policy. 

From their website:

The Tennessee Journal of Leadership, Law, and Policy analyzes the latest developments in leadership in law, laws, and public decision making. It explores areas touching on a number of disciplines and attracts readers from a variety of professional interests. By publishing essays and commentaries, in addition to traditional scholarly articles, the journal offers a unique addition to the scholastic environment of the university. The journal is published by students of The University of Tennessee College of Law.

Issue 2 (Winter 2020) of Volume 14 hosts the articles from the Leadership Symposium. Volume 14 is available, here: https://tennesseelawandpolicy.com/volumes/volume-14/ (Scroll down to Issue 2 (Winter 2020))


Leadership Syllabi and Resources


Leading as Lawyers (https://leadingaslawyers.blog/)  Douglas Blaze has organized a blog to allow for posting of interesting ideas, thoughts and insights and asked that we invite you to read and post your ideas. Editors’ Note:  We have been looking at the posting on the site since it was established in June and have been excited by the ideas.

Training Lawyers as Leaders (http://traininglawyersasleaders.org)  Leah Teague and Stephen Rispoli have established this blog to support the growing movement to create more leadership development courses, programs, events and activities in law schools across the nation. We invite you to subscribe to the blog and join the conversation.


A BOX Folder has been created as a repository for syllabi, programs, exercises, articles, presentations and other leadership development materials. All can view and download the materials through the following link: https://baylor.app.box.com/s/dkr4brr2t3b2qhvd2bnvah35cj8voj5n. For access to upload and edit documents, contact Stephen Rispoli ([email protected]), Assistant Dean at Baylor Law School. The categories created in the Box folder are: Blogs, Course Syllabi, Exercises, Newsletters, Programs, Publications, Speakers/Presentations.

The Leadership Partners Team            

Are you thinking about beginning or expanding a leadership course, program or just learning more about the area. Members of the Leadership Section have volunteered to speak and hopefully help you. If you want to speak with someone or volunteer to assist others, please contact Stephen Rispoli ([email protected]) or Leah Teague ([email protected]).

Contact Us            

Please let the editors know if you know of events, programs, and items that may be of interest.



As I write this short message, the importance of this moment in the history of our country is almost overwhelming.  Leadership is critical to our ability to taking advantage of the challenges and opportunities presented.  This special issue of the Leadership Section Newsletter is focuses on the most important of those challenges – racism.  

Professor Tony Thompson deserves special thanks from all of us for securing an incredible group of contributors.  Of course, thanks to each of the authors as well.  I appreciate their time and willingness to share their individual views and experiences.  I also have to mention and thank David Gibbs and Stephen Rispoli for their ongoing work of creating and producing our newsletters. 

Finally, Don Polden has put together a terrific section program at the Annual Meeting in January. For more information.  I hope you will join us.  More information is available at https://am.aals.org/program/ and through the listserv. 

Stay safe and well. 

– Doug Blaze 


Introduction to This Special Newsletter

By Tony Thompson, Professor of Clinical Law, NYU School of Law

The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police have catalyzed a movement.  That movement started with vehement calls for fundamental reform of policing in this country.  This painful moment of loss offers us a chance to make the deaths of these three people count as well as acknowledging the countless others whose names we may never know who lost their lives in a racialized system of justice enforcement that this country has tolerated and enabled. 

But the public protests have also sparked something that extends beyond criminal justice reform: a relentless insistence that we acknowledge the stark reality that racism infects every system in this country.  We as lawyers, as law teachers, as people who care about justice must actively work toward a genuine reckoning on race and racism in this country.

That reckoning involves understanding both what has brought us to this point and what we need to do to engage in the real transformative work that historically has been stunted.  That begins with a process of self-reflection and honesty about what this moment means and what this moment demands of each of us.  It means being honest about the harms that racism causes at every turn in this country.  Acknowledging those ongoing harms requires that we really listen – perhaps for the first time – to a range of voices that can offer insights into the effects of this moment, the potential for change, the imperative for radical rethinking.

To that end, we have invited some individuals to share their voices and perspective as they grapple with – and try to make sense of – these events. As importantly, we hope that their ideas, experiences and expectations will encourage you to do the same.  Let me introduce you to the individuals who have agreed to share their perspectives in this issue.  We hear from Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the preeminent law school deans in America, who is serving as the Dean of University of California (Berkeley).  We hear from, Kim Taylor-Thompson, a law professor who served as the CEO of Duke Corporate Education, the leading Global Executive Education Company  and as the Director of  Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia before becoming a Professor of Law at NYU School of Law. We hear from William Snowden, the Executive Director of the New Orleans office of the VERA Institute of Justice. Lara Bazelon, a rising national voice on criminal justice and a talented law professor at the University of San Francisco adds her perspectives and experiences. We also hear from one of the key voices in philanthropy, Candice Jones, the Executive Director of the Public Welfare Foundation, a lawyer, a former State Commissioner of Juvenile Justice for the State of Illinois and a former White House Fellow.  Candice submitted a creative take on the issue of race and leadership sending a letter in the future to one of her relatives.    This edition also welcomes the views of a young man, Reuben Kadushin, who may someday become a lawyer, but for now sits at the dawn of his career.  He is heading to college soon and shares his personal reactions and observations as a young man of color.  David Gibbs, who is one of the editors of newsletter, began his career taking time off from law school to work for the United Farm Workers and joined academia after practicing as a corporate lawyer and mediator, wanted to write about the importance of these issues to all Americans.  And, I add my voice.  I have spent 25 years on the NYU law faculty, where I teach and write about race and leadership.  I also served as the founding Faculty Director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law. We hope that these articles will prompt you to reflect, discuss and take action.