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Spring 2021 Reading Group

Management and Leadership Skills for Lawyers

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This Reading Group will study the practical, policy and ethical dimensions of management in various organizational settings, with a heavy emphasis on practical understanding and skills.

Attorneys can – and should – develop management and legal skills from their very first day in practice. As your legal career advances, in the future you may be entrusted to run a government agency (or an entire government), a law firm, a non-profit organization, a company’s in-house law department, a court system, or a smaller division of any of these. We will examine principles, case studies and hypothetical problems with an eye to building awareness and habits that prepare you for management roles. And until you become a supervisor, understanding how managers and leaders function will better prepare you to be an effective counsel and to understand the people and entities with whom you work and interact.

We will cover the fundamental aspects of business management, with an eye to the unique dynamics, challenges and responsibilities that attorneys face in management and leadership roles. We will also explore how management roles and challenges vary across different legal practice settings, including government agencies and offices, for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, and law firms.

Some of the specific questions and topics we will examine include:

  • How do you set goals and measure performance for attorneys when so much of what attorneys do cannot be easily quantified (providing sound judgment and counsel, pursuing justice, preventing disputes, etc.)?
  • What management and communication styles work most effectively in various settings and circumstances?
  • What decisionmaking approaches can managers and leaders use to facilitate good, sound decisions?
  • How can managers handle situations over which they have limited direct authority and control?
  • How can lawyers excel as leaders?
  • How do various compensation systems affect the management of lawyers and how can compensation be optimally structured?
  • How can managers successfully create change in their organizations?
  • How can junior attorneys develop leadership skills and practices that will prove valuable later on in their careers – and what are those key skills and best practices?

We will be joined by special guests for many sessions — experienced lawyers who have held important management and leadership roles and who will share their own stories and experiences of managing and leading in different settings.

Note: This reading group will meet for for twelve, one-hour sessions over the full spring term.