November/December 2019

Preparing the Next Generation to Lead

Change is accelerating, the complexity of the challenges is unprecedented and lawyers need strong leadership.

Kelli Dunaway

Jordan Furlong calls our newest lawyers the Pivot Generation because many years from now we will look back and recognize that this was the generation around which the old legal market collapsed and the new legal market coalesced, servicing the most sophisticated and well-informed clients. Many Pivot Generation lawyers, however, do not possess the skills and essential proficiencies—that is, leadership, financial literacy and entrepreneurialism—that will be required of successful legal service providers throughout the next few decades.

Corporations, leading professional services firms and the military all see leadership development as a core mission of their organizations. They provide training, structured feedback, experiences and opportunities for professionals to build their leadership abilities and profiles. Lawyer-led organizations have not done as well. The legal industry has invested little in formal training while producing the greatest percentage of the country’s leaders—most of our government, much of the nonprofit world, nearly all law firms and the legal departments at top corporations are headed by lawyers. Put into positions to lead with no training in how leaders behave, we’re setting our people and organizations up for stagnation and failure.

We can change this. We can at least prepare our lawyers to lead by defining what a leader looks like, creating appropriate training programs and providing opportunities to develop their own leadership styles.

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