AustLII Home | Databases | WorldLII | Search | Feedback

Legal Education Digest

Legal Education Digest
You are here:  AustLII >> Databases >> Legal Education Digest >> 2013 >> [2013] LegEdDig 15

Database Search | Name Search | Recent Articles | Noteup | LawCite | Author Info | Download | Help

Barker, D --- "Law and Leadership" [2013] LegEdDig 15; (2013) 21(1) Legal Education Digest 54

Law and Leadership

Paula Monopoli and Susan McCarty (Editors)

Ashgate, 2013, 293 pp

Any student of the history of legal education will be well aware that over the period of its long development a point of issue has been the question of developing and enhancing the law school curriculum. This can involve the introduction of a major core subject to be a required involvement by all law students in the programme or the enhancement of subject offerings by the addition of a new elective subject. The editors of this new book have suggested that what is lacking in the current law school curriculum is the theory and practice of leadership studies, and the text incorporates much of its material from a national conference initiated in 2008 by the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and a working group which resulted from that conference.

The central theme of the book is the: ‘Great need for strong, clear and effective leadership in the legal profession and in legal education to meet these challenges and articulate the case for a responsive, competent, and ethical legal profession.’ In this respect the book is organised around three fundamental themes. These are: ‘The roles that lawyers play as leaders; why leadership should be taught in law schools; and what a sound leadership education curriculum should look like in law schools’. One of the problems indicated by the proponents of this addition to the curriculum is that whilst one of the pedagogical approaches currently used by law schools is to educate students to ‘think like lawyers’ this is not the same as thinking like a leader.

The book is divided into three parts; Part I: Lawyers as Leaders, Part II; Why Leadership Studies in Law School, and Part III, Developing A Curriculum: An Interdisciplinary Approach.

In Part I there is an attempt to deal with the obvious question as to whether it is possible to teacher leadership and if in fact it is possible to define what leadership means? As so often happens in the Legal Education Digest, the 2006 report of the Carnegie Foundation, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law is again the subject of focus as a point of reference with regard to the fact that amongst its call for comprehensive reform of legal education it included: ‘leadership studies’ as one of a number of topics to be integrated into the law school experience.

One of the primary forms of emphasis in Part I of the text is an examination of the: Nexus between Leadership Theory and Law and Leadership Competencies in Law. This involves the challenges offered by James MacGregor Burns and Bernard Bass’s research on transformational leadership whereby the study of leadership should be transferred from a leader-focused model to one which was more concerned with: ‘Realizing goals mutually held by leaders and followers’. In his chapter on Leadership Competencies Larry Richards questions what kinds of competencies drive leadership in the corporate world and whether these differ from the essential leadership competencies needed by lawyers in their leadership roles? In his view some competencies are learnable whilst other are more innate but most are a combination of both. He is also of the view that: ‘Personality has a significant effect on all aspect of competency development, leadership training, and leadership performance.’

Part II deals with the question as to why there should be leadership studies in the law school curriculum and covers such topics as Leadership Theory and Practice, the Argument for Leadership Education in Law Schools and resolving the question of Thinking Like a Lawyer as compared to Thinking Like a Leader. In response to these questions the respective authors Leary Davis, Diane Hoffman and Michael Kelly set out what they see as the positive reasons for responding to this challenge, as expressed in the words of Michael Kelly as: ‘The relative cognitive dimensions of law and of leadership.’ In this respect whilst suggesting some initiatives that will be undertaken in those law schools who embrace leadership theory and practice, Michael Kelly does have some concerns as to why most law schools will probably hesitate to respond to the challenge. Diane Hoffman argues the fact that one of the needs for leadership training of law students is because law school graduates are disproportionately in positions of authority and power by virtue of the nature of their professional appointments. Michael Kelly endeavours to answer the question as to whether there are similarities between thinking like a lawyer and thinking like a leader? Like Diane Hoffman he also argues that because of the nature of their employment law graduates will find themselves in leadership roles, particularly in government and for-profit and non-profit sections in the United States, which therefore means that there is a strong argument for improving the general quality of leadership of lawyers in society.

It is in Part III that the authors of the final chapters describe how a leadership education could be integrated into the law school curriculum. The two opening chapters of this final part of the book describe how the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law has developed a course entitled ‘Foundations of Leadership Seminar: Theory and Praxis’ which is part of the law school’s Leadership, Ethics and Democracy (LEAD) Initiative. Chapter 11 is particularly invaluable in that its author Avery Blank gives a law student’s perspective of this course. The remainder of Part III of the book describes various ways in which such methods as leadership mentoring, effective teamwork, judgement and wisdom can contribute to an effective law leadership educational curriculum. This is enhanced by an Appendix to the text which reports on a collaborative process of inquiry into the purpose of leadership education in the legal academy carried out by the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland (Burns Academy), the Centre for Law & Renewal, and the University of Maryland School of Law. The final part of this report is illuminating in that it recommends practical ways for advancing leadership development in the legal academy. These incorporate enlisting the assistance of the practising bar in developing leadership programmes, seeking the assistance of law students in the design of leadership programmes at the outset, establishing a process of ongoing legal scholarship that identifies key intellectual paths of inquiry, responding to the Carnegie Report’s challenge for leadership studies, the early adoption of law school-based leadership studies and the pursuit of interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and writing in the area of leadership in the law.

Whether or not the majority of law schools are ready to embrace the incorporation of leadership studies into their law school programme is still open to conjecture, but there is no doubt that this book will make a major contribution to the debate as to the importance of leadership studies in the future law school curriculum.

Emeritus Professor David Barker AM


AustLII: Copyright Policy | Disclaimers | Privacy Policy | Feedback