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Winter 2023 Course

Leadership Fundamentals

Note: This course is restricted to first-year J.D. students only.

The drop deadline for 1L January Experiential Term (JET) classes is December 2, 2022. Students may not drop a course if they do not have an offer to enroll in a different JET course.

1L JET courses are intensive learning courses. Class attendance is required in each course every day of the term. Students should plan accordingly and should not take on other work commitments during the term.

Exam Type: No Exam

Background: Harvard Law School graduates have a long history of leadership, drawing on the critical thinking, advocacy, and legal knowledge they learn at law school. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of effective leadership and helps them to explore and practice a variety of leadership approaches and skillsets. The course is highly interactive and team-based, allowing students to learn from each other and build stronger relationships among their peers. We learn about leadership through case studies, discussions and exercises, and also from guest speakers who are leading change in the legal profession, both in the public and the private sector.

Teaching goals of the course/who should consider this course: This course is designed for students who are interested in building a deeper understanding of leadership frameworks, practices, and tools to accelerate their ability to create impact as leaders.

Course content: We explore a variety of fundamental leadership frameworks and tools, including:

  • Personal leadership:
    • Understanding your own working style and preferences and how to work more effectively across lines of difference
    • Understanding motivational and influence psychology in order to gain buy-in as a leader
    • Developing effective listening skills, human-centered design interviewing, negotiating conflict, and giving and receiving feedback
  • Team leadership:
    • Working in teams and leveraging important research about what makes for effective teamwork, such as how to improve team performance and communication, and how to create inclusive team environments
    • Understanding and building team resilience to help teams adapt to uncertainty, failure and rapidly changing circumstances
  • Leadership practices and frameworks:
    • Applying the leadership practice of public narrative and storytelling to drive change and grow personally and professionally
    • Applying design thinking principles to lead positive, human-centric change
    • Applying principles of adaptive leadership to thrive in uncertain times
  • Developing yourself as a leader:
    • Building professional and personal networks
    • Managing the increasingly complex levels of responsibility you encounter as you advance your career
    • Understanding career management strategies that help you grow and learn more effectively

Course structure and expectations: Through a mixture of leadership case studies with guest speakers, interactive exercises, and working in teams, students will explore the real-world skills and mindsets that leaders call upon to catalyze change across the legal profession. Instructors and teaching assistants will provide regular feedback to teams with respect to written and oral presentations. Especially because this is a team-based course, students are expected to attend each class in order to work in their teams and contribute to team assignments. Students will complete light homework assignments each evening, often with their assigned team.

Note: There may be days throughout the winter term that require attendance beyond the scheduled times. Please refer to the course syllabus and page for more information.