The Law School Magazine  ·  Spring 2011 : Features

Program on Law and Leadership Workshops Provide Hands-On Leadership Training

By - Spring 2011
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While business schools started implementing leadership training and education decades ago, law schools have historically failed to focus on the cultivation of such leadership skills. The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law emerged on the cutting edge of leadership education in 2006 when it introduced a leadership course in the curriculum and in 2007 when it launched the Program on Law and Leadership. The program combines a variety of courses, activities, and workshops designed to provide Moritz students with the theoretical knowledge, practice, and applied skills necessary to lead effectively. The program also seeks to serve as a catalyst for students and others to use their legal education to serve in leadership positions.

“Law schools traditionally have been very good at teaching – in our view – the importance of character and ethics,” said Professor Garry Jenkins, a co-director of the Program on Law and Leadership. “However, leadership, organizational awareness, and judgment are just as important to professional success.”

The Program on Law and Leadership teaches this training through its speaker series, courses, and mentorship opportunities, but one particularly unusual opportunity offered through the program is the Leadership Skills Workshops. These half- and full-day sessions are designed to assist Moritz students in developing their leadership skills outside the traditional curriculum, and they give students the opportunity to test leadership techniques in low-risk, non-judgmental environments.

Over the past three years, the program has hosted two to three workshops annually that are open to all Moritz students. Leadership training experts from across the country have traveled to the College to provide opportunities typically offered to senior and up-and-coming corporate executives.

“We have brought in world-class consultants,” Jenkins said. “These are firms that normally work with clients that include General Electric, Pfizer, Nationwide Insurance, the World Bank, the federal government, and others. The fact that they are coming and providing the same training to our students is a terrific and unique opportunity. Moritz students are benefiting from the same programming for which companies are paying several thousands of dollars.”

For instance, Isis Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based firm specializing in executive training and coaching, has presented a day-long session at Moritz since 2006. The workshop is a part of Jenkins’ Lawyers as Leaders course.

Muriel Maignan Wilkins and Amy Jen Su, both managing partners and co-founders of the firm, designed a program in consultation with Professor Jenkins specifically for Moritz students. Students engage in interactive simulations designed to expose good and bad leadership techniques as well as display the benefits of an effective network.

“At Moritz, we understand that the majority of the students are relatively early in their careers and may not have had the feedback that they will have received if they were later in their careers,” Maignan Wilkins said. “They have not had the opportunity to practice what they have learned in class in real-life situations. This allows them to practice in a laboratory, if you will.”

The success of the Isis Associates program has shown. Each year, students are surveyed following the session and responses are overwhelmingly positive.

“We spend an enormous amount of time talking about that first year out of law school,” Maignan Wilkins said. “While these students may not be leading the firm in that first year, there are plenty of opportunities to exhibit some of that leadership behavior. You don’t have to wait to be a leader in title to begin demonstrating that leadership potential.”

Other experts have included Sharon A. Clifford, a private management consultant, who presented a half-day session on leadership and self-knowledge. Barbara Braham, a certified executive coach and organizational development consultant, facilitated a program entitled “Leading Up: How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge.”

“I developed the Leading Up workshop recognizing that students need practical, concrete ideas to prepare them for beginning their professional careers, regardless of whether they choose to work in a law firm or the public or private sector,” Braham said.

Jordan Carr ’10, who was a fixture at nearly all the program’s events, particularly enjoyed a workshop focusing on the connection between leadership and creativity. “In leadership, creativity is vital,” Carr said. “Creativity gives you that little something extra, that spark, a vision that inspires other people to follow your lead. This workshop gave me the opportunity to put aside the rules and the analytical thinking for a few hours and tap into that creative side I had ignored for so long.”

Several of the events are also networking opportunities. The program has jointly hosted a few of the workshops with Ohio State’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs, which allow Moritz students to meet Ohio State students outside of the law school.

Jenkins said that he and other program administrators are continually searching for fresh programming for the Leadership Skills Workshops. He has consulted with leading business schools across the country.

“Recruiters are telling law schools that they need lawyers with analytical firepower along with superior leadership skills and professional judgment to serve their clients at the highest level,” Jenkins said. “These programs are part of the distinctive education available at Moritz. With the Program on Law and Leadership, we are focused on providing resources to support students’ lifelong success as principled leaders in law, business, public service, and society.”


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