The Leadership Project

Preparedness for the legal profession requires not only knowledge of the law but the skills and willingness to take on leadership roles. Today’s legal profession involves interaction with a complex set of legal issues, people, and relationships, and accordingly requires lawyers to develop and utilize strong leadership and management skills.

The University of Illinois College of Law’s Leadership Project, launched in January of 2021, is designed to focus on the development of future leaders in the legal profession and thereby fundamentally impact the legal profession of the future. The Leadership Project will harness the expertise of current leaders and scholars while creating opportunities for discussion and debate on the topic of leadership and the law. The Leadership Project is led by a Director and supported by a Leadership Project Advisory Board made up of faculty, administrators and external leaders.

The College of Law offers current students the opportunity to participate in the Leadership Project in four distinct ways:

Classroom Experiences

All first-year students at the College of Law take the College’s innovative Fundamentals of Legal Practice class, which includes instruction on aspects of legal practice critical to success, including classes on the business of law, professional communications and interactions, personal branding, business development and marketing, resilience, client service, the importance of pro bono service, and leadership principles. In 2021, the College’s Fundamentals of Legal Practice class will offer three separate sessions on aspects of leadership, including leadership in for-profit entities, leadership in non-profit entities, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in leading others.

During the second and third years of study, students will have the opportunity to take additional courses touching on principles of leadership, including teamwork, effective public speaking and writing, strategic planning, negotiation, conflict resolution, decision theory, project management, and problem solving. Such courses include the following:

Advanced Negotiation Skills and Strategies
Advanced Trial Advocacy and Professional Responsibility
CFI:  Interviewing, Counseling, and Fact Investigation
Compliance, Ethics, and Professional Responsibility
Corporate Counsel Practicum
Criminal Practice Ethics
Dispute Resolution
Family Advocacy Clinic
Federal Civil Rights Clinic
Federal Income Tax
Health Law Practice
Human Resource Management in a Multi-National Legal Environment
Illinois Constitutional Law and Policy
Immigration Law Clinic
Leadership As Behavior
Legal Theory
Negotiation Skills and Strategies
Mediation Training
Medical Legal Partnership Clinic
Race and Policing
Race, American Society & and the Law
Role and Responsibilities of In-House Counsel
Small Firm Practice
Trial Advocacy and Law
Veterans’ Legal Clinic

In order to earn a Certificate of Completion, students must earn credit in at least three of the courses above.

Leadership Project Lecture Series

Beginning in the spring of 2021, the College of Law will host various lectures as part of its “Leadership Lecture Series.” Invited speakers will come from the ranks of the legal, business, and political leaders in the world, and discuss leadership principles and techniques that students can begin putting into practice during their time at the College of Law. Leadership Project participants must attend at least three such lectures prior to graduation in order to earn a Leadership Project Certificate of Completion.

Leadership Project Book Discussions

Beginning in the spring of 2021, all students will be invited to read specified books on leadership during the course of the Project and participate in discussions with their colleagues and members of the Leadership Project Advisory Board. The first such session is scheduled for March of 2021 and will focus on “Leadership in Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Students must participate in at least two such sessions in order to receive a Leadership Project Certificate of Completion.

Leadership Project Seminar

Students who have participated in Leadership Project activities will be invited to attend a half-day seminar, facilitated by a leadership coach, where faculty and students will discuss and apply principles of good leadership. The first workshop is scheduled for the spring semester of 2022. Students must complete this seminar in order to earn a Leadership Project Certificate of Completion.

The College of Law is eager to engage with alumni and friends around the world through the Leadership Project.  If you would like to support the Project, or have any questions, please contact Project Director Greg Miarecki, at miarecki@illinois.edu.

Advisory Board

Fred Bartlit, Jr. 
Partner 
Bartlit Beck LLP 

Sue Bettman 
Former Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel 
LSC Communications Inc. 

Hon. Rita Garman 
Illinois Supreme Court 
Danville, Illinois 

Hon. Thomas Harris 
Illinois Appellate Court 
Fourth District 

Patricia Brown Holmes 
Managing Partner Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila 
Chicago, Illinois 

Hon. Lisa Holder White 
Illinois Appellate Court 
Fourth District 

Robert W. Kustra
President Emeritus, Boise State University
Former Illinois Lieutenant Governor

Bradley Lerman 
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary 
Medtronic 

Hon. William Moorman 
United States Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims 
Washington, D.C. 

Michael Osanloo 
Chief Executive Officer 
Portillo’s Hot Dogs 

Pamela Strobel 
Former Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer 
Exelon Corporation 

Hon. Debra Walker 
Circuit Court of Cook County 
Chicago, Illinois 

Miguel Zaldivar 
Chief Executive Officer 
Hogan Lovells 
Washington, D.C.