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Engaging Law Students in Leadership

32 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2010 Last revised: 14 Dec 2012

Faith Rivers James

Elon University School of Law

Date Written: August 12, 2010


Dedicated to “building a legacy of leadership in the law,” Elon University School of Law is preparing civic-minded lawyers to assume leadership roles in their communities, law firms, the legal profession, and in the public square. Defined as the process of influencing as persuading others to achieve a common purpose, leadership describes the lawyers’ task with individual and organizational clients; considered as a characteristic of people in positions of power, lawyers often assume the mantle of leading organizations. Whether defined as process or position, lawyering involves leadership in the private sector or in the public realm. Elon Law is breaking new ground in legal education through its dual focus on engaged learning and leadership in the law. Three years into development, Elon Law’s experience offers significant lessons for collegiate and graduate leadership service learning, as well as legal pro bono programs and professional development initiatives.

This article considers the progressive structure of a comprehensive law & leadership program, and prescribes the Public Law and Leadership course as a model of engaged learning and leadership development that offers replication opportunities for programs that seek to engage students in public law and policy issues that affect local and national communities. Armed with leadership training and engagement experience, law graduates will be better prepared for professional practice, primed to exercise leadership within their communities, and positioned to engage in leadership of the profession and the public square.

Suggested Citation

Rivers James, Faith, Engaging Law Students in Leadership (August 12, 2010). Elon University Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-6. Available at SSRN: or

Faith Rivers James (Contact Author)

Elon University School of Law ( email )

201 N. Greene Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
United States
336-279-9332 (Phone)

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