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Develop the skillset and knowledge to gain influence and increase impact across your organization and improve your ability to manage change in a complex environment.

Now more than ever, law firms and in-house legal departments, are facing disruptive changes. Lawyers need the ability to not only adapt, but also to lead, influence, and operate in an environment that will continue to evolve, often without a clear path forward. In the face of changes ranging from department reorganizations to global health crises, law firms and organizations will need leaders who can meet today’s challenges and find opportunities to thrive in an uncertain future.

Adaptive Leadership: Lawyers Driving Change will give high performing lawyers the skillset and knowledge to gain influence and increase impact across their organization and improve their ability to manage change in a complex environment. Participants will learn how to individually, as a group, and as an organization make important decisions when faced with ambiguity while also holding others through change. Through case studies, lectures, and interactive exercises, participants will:

  • Develop the ability to understand situational context, hidden dynamics, and potential consequences of complex change.
  • Learn how to systemically plan for change.
  • Gain practical strategies to drive and effect change.
  • Advance their techniques and skills to influence, engage, and support others during times of change.
  • Increase their ability to feel comfortable with disagreement and to help while helping their teams move forward in times of conflict.

Adaptive Leadership: Lawyers Driving Change is designed to give lawyers the tools to navigate organizational changes such as a merger or restructure, adjustment of strategy in the face of market shift, changing client base, impediments to profitability, or increased turnover. Organizations will benefit when lawyers are prepared to provide leadership for the inevitable moments of potential challenge or derailment, including transitions and collaboration.

A Personal Challenge
All participants will explore the concepts of adaptive leadership, leading organizational change, building resilient teams, and the individual’s leadership journey through the lens of a current or past challenge they have experienced. Participants will choose a personal example of a time they aspired to move from the current state to a new reality – from adopting a more collaborative team culture to entering a new market or managing the shift to hybrid work – that requires personal, team, and systemic change. Throughout the program, participants use their personal challenge to explore how to look at the situation differently, ask key questions, and explore alternative action options with the goal of developing a new perspective and strategy for managing change.


    Adaptive Leadership: Lawyers Driving Change will give participants the tools and frameworks to lead and influence through challenging times and help their organization successfully navigate today’s rapidly changing environment.
    The program will equip participants to:

    • Diagnose and understand the nature of the work required to lead complex change within your organization or for your clients.
    • Think and plan systemically for individual and organizational change.
    • Develop robust, practical strategies for leading and engaging others in effecting change regardless of their position within an organization.
    • Explore the ethical dilemmas and difficult trade-offs that come with adaptive change.
    • Help themselves, clients, and others adapt to new and unforeseen realities.

    Adaptive Leadership: Lawyers Driving Change’s distinguished faculty will utilize real case studies, lectures, simulations, hands-on exercises, and small group discussions to give participants a deep of understanding how to lead through disruptive times.

    The curriculum topics include how to:

    • Dissect the nature of adaptive work and what leadership looks like in this context, including, gaining an appreciation of the tools, skills and resources required to move and motivate people across different levels of an organization despite the systemic pressures that may be on them to stay the same.
    • Interrogate the concept of loss as a barrier to change and how to appreciate and anticipate the sources of danger in the exercise of leadership.
    • Build the type of holding environment required to stand up diverse and resilient teams that face the creative pressure that comes with innovation.
    • Harness purpose as a compass in the work of leadership and build tools to ensure organizational alignment: keeping groups laser focused on ‘the work at the center’.
    • Understand the multiple identities that each of us occupies, the pressure of expectations that come with them, and how to renegotiate these expectations, albeit implicit or explicit, to develop greater freedom to make choices in how you deploy yourself.
    • Develop personal resilience and understand the importance of anchors, sanctuaries, alliances, and partnerships in the exercise of leadership.

    About the Format

    Adaptive Leadership: Lawyers Driving Change is a hybrid in-person and online program. The program will take place for 3 days on the Harvard Law School campus in Cambridge, MA. Approximately two months later, there will be 2 days of online sessions.

    The online sessions will take place on the Harvard Zoom platform. There will be program sessions each day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET.

    Accepted participants should reserve the whole days for all in person and online program dates until they receive a finalized program schedule.

    In order to complete the program and earn a certificate of completion, participants are expected to attend every session. Class size will be limited.

    Building Community and Networks

    Our highly interactive sessions, both in person and online, include frequent opportunities for engagement among participants. These break out discussions and activities enable participants to exchange thoughts, ideas, and perspectives to learn from—and get to know—each other. Additionally, upon completion, participants join our global Harvard Law School Executive Education Alumni Network.


    Adaptive Leadership: Lawyers Driving Change is designed for lawyers who are managing change in their organizations at a practice, department, business unit, or organizational level. Participant’s roles may include law firm partners, practice group leaders, chief officers, or in-house Counsel.

    The program will benefit:

    • Law firm partners who hold leadership positions
    • In-House counsel who are in leadership positions or have a role in shaping organizational strategy
    • HR and training professionals of law firms and government who advise lawyers in management positions
    • Chief strategy or change management officers in legal organizations
    • Lawyers on boards
    • Former lawyers now working in in policy or political positions

    Participants should have 6+ years of professional experience.

    Not sure if this program is right for you? Ask us.


    Visit the Admissions page for information on the process.


    Our core faculty are members of the Harvard Law School faculty – distinguished academicians, educators, researchers, authors, and practitioners in their respective fields. Representing various disciplines, they are close to practice through relationships with law firm leaders and through personal involvement as consultants for top firms around the world.

    The Teaching Team

    Farayi Chipungu, Harvard Kennedy School – Faculty Chair

    Ron Heifetz, Harvard Kennedy School

    Scott Westfahl, Harvard Law School

    Nigel Boardman