Army Lessons for Lawyer-Leaders

By Trezza, Jillian | The Review of Litigation, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Army Lessons for Lawyer-Leaders


Trezza, Jillian, The Review of Litigation


I. Leadership Theory and Leadership Development Models 241

A. Leadership Theory 241

1. The "Great Man" Theory 244

2. Behavior Theories 245

3. Relationship Theories 246

4. Contingency Theories 247

5. Current Theories: Post-Transformational and PostCharismatic Leadership 248

B. Models for Leadership Development 249

II. Leadership Development In Context: The Army 251

A. Fundamentals and Theories 251

B. Leader Development: West Point 258

C. Leader Development: The Army Career 263

III. Leadership and the Law 265

A. Law Firm Leaders 265

B. Law Schools and Leadership Development 271

C. Ethical and Public Sector Leadership 273

D. Army Lessons for Lawyer-Leader Development 276

IV. Conclusion 277

Leadership and legal acumen are not two concepts often thought of in conjunction with one another, but more and more, the legal community is emphasizing the importance of leadership for lawyers. And at a time of unsettling law firm financial woes and the unrelenting erosion of their professional reputations, attorneys are turning to the tools of leadership to combat the challenges threatening their profession. While the legal profession and the military have many differences, the cultivation and application of leadership in the military, and more specifically the Army, provides valuable and compelling insights readily employable in the lawyerleader context.

Today's attorneys grapple with complex issues and unique challenges. The legal market has recently turned into a highly competitive global market, with firms vying for increasingly sophisticated and fiscally savvy clients who have ready access to legal technologies and information that threaten attorney demand. Adding to these challenges, most attorneys will change jobs several times, work in different professional capacities-possibly in different legal fields-and constantly interact with new colleagues and clients. In short, attorneys today work in a legal environment riddled with competition and change. Successfully navigating this new professional world requires leadership skills. But leadership competencies are not just necessary for those in formal lawyer-leader positions; they are highly beneficial for all lawyers. From learning how to build consensus and work collaboratively to learning active listening and self-awareness skills, these capabilities cannot help but improve the legal culture and sustain professionalism in a tumultuous legal world.

Equally important, lawyers as professionals incur an obligation to society to render legal services competently, and above all, ethically. From this perspective, ethical leadership is a necessary component of lawyer leadership, and one that is critical to ensure enduring professional legitimacy and accountability. As legal professionals, attorneys must rededicate their efforts to serve society, ever cognizant of the central role they play in our democratic system.

Analogously, military professionals operate in an environment where flexibility and adaptability are crucial, where mission success requires much more than authoritative, formal leadership, and where ethical leadership is essential. For these reasons, military leadership can inform lawyer leadership.

Part I of this Note will explore the theoretical foundations of leadership and highlight several prominent leadership-development methods. Part II will provide a survey of leadership development in the Army officer context. Part III will discuss the role of leadership in the legal context, both at law school and beyond; and the final part will conclude with applicable Army lessons for lawyer leadership.

I. Leadership Theory and Leadership Development Models

A. Leadership Theory

A foundation for leadership theory must first address the question of whether leaders are made or born. While this topic traditionally roused much debate, our understanding of leadership has advanced, and there is now a common acknowledgement that successful leaders are, in fact, made. …

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