Monday, June 13, 2022

Change Leadership

In a post last month, I mentioned my recently published article on teaching change leadership in law schools.  That article, Change Leadership and the Law School Curriculum, 62 Santa Clara L. Rev. 43 (2022), offers some ideas about preparing our students for leading change.  The SSRN abstract follows.

Lawyers, as inherent and frequent leaders in professional, community, and personal environments, have a greater-than-average need for proficiency in change leadership. In these many settings, lawyers are charged with promoting, making, and addressing change. For example, one commentator observes that, “as stewards of the family justice system and leaders of change, family law attorneys have an ongoing responsibility to foster continuous system improvement.” Change is part of the fabric of lawyering, writ large. Change leadership, whether voluntarily assumed or involuntarily shouldered, is inherent in the lawyering task. Yet, change leadership—well known as a focus for attention in management settings and related academic literature—is rarely called out for individual or focused attention in the traditional law school curriculum. This article presents a brief argument for the intentional and instrumental teaching of change leadership to law students.

Many of our students already have been in or are assuming leadership roles.  Others are leading from where they stand.  And, as the abstract indicates, all will likely find themselves leading--in and outside the profession--at a later date.

Moreover, the world has been in, and continues to be in, a state of seemingly constant evolution.  Some of that evolution can be catalyzed or channeled by lawyers who have a compelling vision for the future.  Legal training can help foster that kind of vision.

As we all know, however, merely having a good idea is not enough.  The process of change-making can be critical to its success.  Change leadership can play an important role, and we can expose students to successful change leadership models while they are in law school.  That's what this article advocates.  I am interested in your reactions . . . .

Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink


Let me laud the emphasis at UT in trying to teach leadership. Leadership is going to be tested by the crucible to which the individual is subjected.

Posted by: Tom N. | Jun 13, 2022 8:06:17 PM

Thanks, Tom N. I think I understand your point. As to whether leadership curricula are "teaching leadership," we may have to define that concept before proceeding! But by teaching leadership awareness, attributes, typologies, and processes--and by asking students to explore them in writing, orally, and through action--we lay important foundations to the exercise of leadership in a variety of professional and personal contexts. As always, I appreciate your thoughts.

Posted by: joanheminway | Jun 17, 2022 11:29:22 AM

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