Lawyer Leadership, the Initiative’s signature course, is an interactive seminar and practicum that cultivates students’ leadership capacities. From the outset of their careers, lawyers will occupy roles that call upon them to influence and persuade people, engage in difficult conversations, learn from mistakes, problem-solve, and interact effectively and equitably with people of different backgrounds, races, and identities. Lawyers are called upon to navigate these everyday interactions in particularly challenging times that demand the ability to address problems under conditions of uncertainty, to navigate conflict and change, to strategize and innovate, and to find novel ways to connect with people (including virtually). These capacities are needed to exercise leadership as we define it: collaborating effectively to achieve common goals.
This course will cultivate participants’ leadership capacities at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and systemic levels. It will ground students’ learning in the issues and problems that matter most to them. Students will have an opportunity to develop and advance personal learning goals that will improve their capacity to interact effectively in groups, give and receive feedback, build constructive work relationships, build racial and cultural literacy, navigate new and challenging environments, achieve collective aims, and use their law degrees to have impact in diverse practice fields. Students will also pursue group impact projects that they identify as important to them, and to cultivate their leadership abilities in the context of advancing those projects. Projects from last year included:
- Spanish Legal Studies and Civil Law Initiative, a mission to promote the use and understanding of legal Spanish and the civil law tradition;
- Beyond the Rainbow, a cross-collaboration between LGBTQ+ student groups, with a mission to center intersectionality, inclusivity, and representation within the queer community;
- Civil Procedure Through a Justice Lens, a teaching assistant-led supplementary discussion group for 1Ls in Civil Procedure, with the aim of encouraging law students to critically engage with doctrinal material;
- Law School Toolkit, a resource guide for aspiring law students on their path to law school, with the ultimate goal of increasing information transparency and increasing applications from students of underrepresented backgrounds;
- accountaBility cluB, a resource manual and initiative with the aim of centralizing student knowledge of administrative processes at the Law School and providing resources for students who earn Bs;
- Restorative Justice Collective, an expansion of a 2022 DPLI Innovation Grant project to build a restorative justice community at the Law School; and
- Centering Change Skills Hub Expansion, an effort to bring the Skills Hub to a larger audience, in collaboration with the Leadership Initiative and the Center for Institutional and Social Change.
Students will have the opportunity to receive individualized feedback and peer-to-peer coaching. The course participants are encouraged to build community among the broader Law School faculty, staff, students, and alumni interested in lawyer leadership.
The course is co-taught by Professor Susan P. Sturm and Professor Richard Gray, in close collaboration with Davis Polk Leadership Initiative Director Eunice Hong. Students will earn five experiential learning credits. The class will meet in whole class sessions, lab groups, and two additional five-hour workshops. All of the sessions will be highly interactive and experiential. Students must enroll in both this course and the Lawyer Leadership project course (either Section 2 with Professor Sturm or Section 3 with Professor Gray). The project sections may be adjusted depending on scheduling needs.
Admission to Lawyer Leadership is by application, available here. Students who wish to take this class in Spring 2024 are highly encouraged to apply by October 25, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. (noon). After the first round of acceptances, we will consider applications on a rolling basis until the course is full. Students may be asked to participate in an interview. A course overview, along with last year’s syllabus, is available upon request. Students with questions about the course or the admissions process should email Professor Sturm (email@example.com).