Law Day 2022

Teaching Aspiring Lawyers to Lead W e live in unnerving times. Our nation is emerging from the worst pandemic in a century. War rages in Eastern Europe. Climate extremes are wreaking havoc. And Americans are more divided than they have been since Civil War times. America has bounced back from challeng-

lectures on general principles of leadership, the importance of diversity, equity, and inclu- sion in leadership, and leadership in non-prof- it and government institutions. In each student’s 2L and 3L years, the project offers a suite of lectures, book discus- sions and classes, all designed to address key leadership qualities such as: teamwork; integ- rity; vision setting and strategy; communica- tion; diversity, equity, and inclusion; optimism; persistence; humility; risk-taking; adaptability; collaboration; and lifelong learning. Students who participate in a prescribed number of these activities will be invited to a half-day, facilitated leadership retreat to share ideas and build a personalized plan to guide them on their leadership journeys during their careers. Benjamin Franklin is said to have been ap- proached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates to the Con- stitutional Convention had created. His an- swer, reportedly, was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Armed with these new tools, the Col- lege of Law looks forward to developing great leaders who can help us “keep it.”

ing times before, relying on great leaders to unite the nation and overcome obstacles. But it is no exaggeration to say that great lead- ership is often essential to the survival of our republic. This need for leaders bears heavily on our profession. For example, the majority of U.S. presidents have been trained as lawyers and many — including Illinois’ contributions to the presidential ranks — have actively prac- ticed law. But law schools generally do not teach lawyers how to lead. Indeed, they do not real- ly even address the development of leadership skills in any intentional or meaningful way. At the University of Illinois College of Law, we have undertaken an initiative to address this gap in legal education. The Leadership Project’s raison d’etre is simple: to teach stu- dents about core principles of leadership. The project begins in the student’s first year with

GREG MIARECKI University of Illinois College of Law Executive Assistant Dean and Director of the Leadership Project, and Vikram Amar, Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law

day to educate our students about profession- al values, both inside and outside the class- room. They continually demonstrate to our students what it means to be a professional, ethical attorney. Law Day is a national day to celebrate the rule of law. Now, more than ever, it is import- ant to recognize that the rule of law is neces- sary as we live up to the ideals of this country. Democracy is not a given. It depends on the confidence in law and lawyers. The pandemic took us by surprise. We learned how to be flexible and resilient. We embraced change and innovation, while staying true to our values. Through the use of technology, we have learned new ways to

solve problems and expand our reach to those in need. As leaders, we are growing and learn- ing as we encourage others to do the same. Last year, the faculty publicly declared that Southern Illinois University School of Law is an anti-racist institution, committed to principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, both in the profession of law and society at large. We model and value inclusivity as we wel- come and actively recruit students, staff and faculty who want to work and learn in an en- vironment that nurtures and respects diversity in all its forms, including race, gender, gen- der identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, ethnicity, national origin, culture and physical ability.


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