Leadership, in any career field, can be difficult to demonstrate and define.
But in the practice of law, how does an attorney at any phase in his or her career develop the skill sets, traits and characteristics that are common among the most successful leaders?
Or, is a leader born, not made?
“The overwhelming research in this area really does show that leadership is a set of skills that can be learned, developed and improved upon,” says Robert Cullen, who developed one of the nation’s first ever Leadership for Lawyers courses, which he teaches at Santa Clara University Law School.
I interviewed Cullen for a Westcast podcast about his new book, The Leading Lawyer, A Guide to Practicing Law and Leadership, published by West.
“Leadership skills are identifiable and learnable,” Cullen says. “You can improve your effectiveness as a lawyer for the benefit of your client, your firm, your community and, just as importantly, for yourself.”
In his book, Cullen couples expert research and keen insight from 10 influential attorneys including Rudy Giuliani and Leon Panetta to show practical examples of how leadership combines “legal expertise with exceptional leadership skills.”
It’s a break from traditional thinking in many ways. “It takes creativity, persuasion and inspiration to be effective, successful and admired,” says Cullen.
“We are fine advocates, great analysts, and the profession is full of outstanding problem-solvers,” writes Cullen. “Leadership is our direction, our future, our calling… After this project, I am far more optimistic about the direction of the legal profession and even more proud to be a part of it.”
Posted by Kevin Hunt, senior communications specialist, Thomson Reuters