Management and Leadership Skills for Lawyers

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Spring 2014 Reading Group
Meets: M 7:10pm - 9:10pm in WCC Room 5044
1 classroom credit

This Reading Group will study the practical, policy and ethical dimensions of management in various organizational settings, with a heavy emphasis on practical understanding and skills.

Attorneys can – and should – develop management and legal skills from their very first day in practice. As your legal career advances, in the future you may be entrusted to run a government agency (or an entire government), a law firm, a non-profit organization, a company’s in-house law department, a court system, or a smaller division of any of these. We will examine principles, case studies and hypothetical problems with an eye to building awareness and habits that prepare you for management roles. And until you become a supervisor, understanding how managers and leaders function will better prepare you to be an effective counsel and to understand the people and entities with whom you work and interact.

We will cover the fundamental aspects of business management, with an eye to the unique dynamics, challenges and responsibilities that attorneys face in management and leadership roles. We will also explore how management roles and challenges vary across different legal practice settings, including government agencies and offices, for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, and law firms.

Some of the specific questions and topics we will examine include:

  • How do you set goals and measure performance for attorneys when so much of what attorneys do cannot be easily quantified (providing sound judgment and counsel, pursuing justice, preventing disputes, etc.)?
  • What management and communication styles work most effectively in various settings and circumstances?
  • What decisionmaking approaches can managers and leaders use to facilitate good, sound decisions?
  • How can managers handle situations over which they have limited direct authority and control?
  • How can lawyers excel as leaders?
  • How do various compensation systems affect the management of lawyers and how can compensation be optimally structured?
  • How can managers successfully create change in their organizations?
  • How can junior attorneys develop leadership skills and practices that will prove valuable later on in their careers – and what are those key skills and best practices?
  • We will be joined by special guests for several sessions who will share their own stories and experiences of managing and leading in different settings.

    Every student already has management and leadership experience, whether it's been as a camp counselor or a leader in a student organization or a senior executive in the private sector before going to law school.

    Pre-requisite: To create a Reading Group of students who can enrich each other's classroom experience, please send a short one-paragraph description of your own past management and leadership experience, and a separate short paragraph about your interest in participating in the Reading Group to Mr. Friedman at dfriedman@law.harvard.edu. Applications are due by Friday, October 25 at 5pm.

    The class will meet on Monday evenings from 7:10 p.m. to 9:10 p.m., for 6 sessions over the course of the semester.

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