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Preparing for Leadership

Avery M. Blank, Skip Horne, Allison C. Johs

The ABA Career Center Board was recently asked for tips on how to prepare for leadership. This is what we advised.

Standing out from the crowd.

Standing out from the crowd.


Avery M. Blank:

  • Write: Seek opportunities to share your perspective on the legal area in which you focus and the profession in general. Inquire with the ABA, as well as local and state bar associations for opportunities to write and hold yourself out as an expert. Leverage social media to expand your reach.
  • Learn business/organizational management: As you rise in your career, the more your job will entail people and organizational issues. Learn about how the work gets done in addition to substantive law. Take a course, or be intentional about learning from your business or operations teams.
  • Seek feedback: No matter your level, encourage your colleagues to be open about your performance. Ask for feedback. The more self-aware you are, the better you can lead. The more you listen, the more others will listen to you.

Skip Horne:

  • Start small and local:  You may find plenty of leadership opportunities in your own neighborhood or region.  Even if you would like to eventually pursue a leadership role with a legal industry association, think about volunteering on the board of a local non-profit first.  You'll gain relevant experience in working with others, making collaborative decisions, overseeing budgets and responding to constituent needs which you can then take with you as you progress to larger and broader association boards.

Allison C. Johs

  • Start Small and Local (continued): Getting involved in the community or volunteering of any kind presents leadership opportunities – whether it is joining a committee at the ABA or your state or local bar association, joining the chamber of commerce, volunteering for a charity organization, or coaching your child’s sports team. Those positions not only offer leadership opportunities but help you to build and grow your network.
  • Seek Mentorship: Young lawyers might also seek out a mentor who is willing to let them tag along at events and introduce them to people in their circle or to provide them with guidance in their career. Observe what they do and how they lead others.