The Leadership Project

Preparedness for the legal profession requires not only knowledge of the law, but also the skills and willingness to take on leadership roles. Today’s lawyers must develop and utilize strong leadership and management skills.

The University of Illinois College of Law’s Leadership Project launched in January 2021 to aid in the development of leaders in the legal profession. The Leadership Project harnesses 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 Director Greg Miarecki and supported by the Leadership Project Advisory Board, which is 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. This includes 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. 

During the second and third years of study, students 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 Topics in Criminal Law Theory
Advanced Trial Advocacy
CFI: Interviewing, Counseling, and Fact Investigation
Corporate Counsel Practicum
Criminal Practice Ethics
Dispute Resolution
Family Advocacy Clinic
Federal Tax Policy
First Amendment Clinic
Health Law Practice
Illinois Constitutional Law and Policy
Immigration Law Clinic
Intellectual Property Clinic
Lawyers as Leaders
Legal Landscape of Student-Athlete Name, Image and Likeness
Legal Theory
Negotiation Skills and Strategies
Mediation Training
Medical Legal Partnership Clinic
Mirza Trial Academy
Organizational Compliance
Race and Policing
Racial Justice Practicum
Representative Government in Illinois
Small Firm Practice
Trial Advocacy
Veterans Legal Clinic

In order to earn a Leadership Scholar certification, students must earn credit in at least three of the courses above.

Leadership Project Lecture Series

As part of the “Leadership Lecture Series,” invited speakers  from the ranks of the legal, business, and political leaders in the world to 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 Scholar certification.

Leadership Project Book Discussions

All students are 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. Students must participate in at least two such sessions in order to receive a Leadership Scholar certification.

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. Students must complete this seminar in order to earn a Leadership Scholar certification.

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

View 2023 Leadership Scholars 

View Leadership Project Annual Report 

Advisory Board

Sue Bettman 
Partner, Brunswick Corporation

Hon. Rita Garman 
Former Chief Justice, Illinois Supreme Court

Hon. Thomas Harris 
Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District 

Hon. Lisa Holder White 
Associate Justice, Illinois Supreme Court

Timmy Knudsen
Alderman, 43rd Ward, City of Chicago

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

Karen Layng
Chief Executive Officer, M.A.I.T. Co.

Bradley Lerman 
Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Starbucks Corporation

Hon. Debra Walker 
Illinois Appellate Court, First District

Miguel Zaldivar 
Chief Executive Officer, Hogan Lovells