Ethical Leadership in Professional Life

39 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2008 Last revised: 12 Jan 2010

See all articles by Neil W. Hamilton

Neil W. Hamilton

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)


Alan Greenspan recently commented we are in the midst of a once-in-a-century credit tsunami where a lack of prudence and integrity has spawned the crisis. Leadership in both the public and private sectors failed. This essay looks at the dominant role lawyers play both in formal leadership roles in the public and private sectors and in the counseling role to ultimate decision makers in both sectors. The essay argues that legal education substantially fails to prepare law students for these roles by helping them to develop ethical leadership skills. The essay analyzes which leadership theories are most helpful for the leadership roles that lawyers assume, and concludes that servant leadership may be the most effective leadership model for many of these lawyer leadership roles.

Keywords: legal profession, lawyers, ethical leadership, legal education, professional responsibility

Suggested Citation

Hamilton, Neil W., Ethical Leadership in Professional Life. University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 2009, University of St. Thomas School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-39, Available at SSRN:

Neil W. Hamilton (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

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