Bar News - August 13, 2010
Want to Step Up? Bar Launches Leadership Academy
By: Dan Wise
The NHBA Leadership Academy, launching this fall, aims to identify, inspire and train emerging leaders of the legal profession in New Hampshire. The Academy is open to NHBA members with 3-to-10 years’ legal experience, and applications are now available.
Mission: The NHBA Leadership Academy aims to identify, inspire and train emerging leaders of the legal profession in New Hampshire.
Eligibility: Member of the New Hampshire Bar Association with 3-10 years of experience in law practice (counting from admission to first bar) who intend to become more involved in leadership roles in the community and the profession.
Number of participants: 15-20 per year
Length of program: 6 afternoon sessions over an 8-9 month period, starting with an overnight retreat in the fall, and ending in June. Programs will normally be 3-4 hours long, typically 2-5 p.m.
Fee: $500. (Financial aid may be available, depending on resources. However, all participants must pay at least a portion of the fee to demonstrate their commitment.)
Application deadline: Sept. 15
Visit www.nhbar.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an application.
Whether you are an eligible lawyer, or know of a good candidate, the time to consider participating is now – applications are due by Sept. 15, and the program begins with an overnight retreat on Nov. 5!
NHBA President-Elect Jennifer L. Parent and Past President Richard Y. Uchida lead the steering group that is developing this exciting program. We posed five questions to them about it:
Q. What’s the purpose of the Leadership Academy?
Parent: Leaders aren’t born, they are made. In fact, leaders have been made throughout the history of this Association. It has been done informally over the years by individual members of the Bar encouraging and fostering newer lawyers. Because the Bar is considerably larger now, it is harder to accomplish informally.
Other state bars have started leadership programs. We explored whether this was right for NH. A task force comprised of 22 people with diverse backgrounds considered this question and answered "yes." A program was then developed that would fit NH’s unique needs.
The Leadership Academy aims to help people acquire tools to build successful careers and rewarding professional lives. The Leadership Academy gives the Bar the ability to identify present and future leaders and to prepare them for leadership roles in the profession and our communities at large. Those who want to be leaders can gain valuable leadership skills and exposure to leaders in our profession, and in the state as a whole.
Uchida: In the past, law firms served as a breeding ground for civic engagement. Sadly, the economic and professional realities that face lawyers today have forced all but a handful of firms to abandon this noble cause. At the same time, the need for leadership has never been greater.
This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop and utilize those skills over the course of a seven-month-long program. And of course, we hope that the Academy will reap dividends in the development of leaders for the NH Bar Association.
Q. Serious time and effort commitment is required to participate. Why should a lawyer make time to do this? If he/she has a boss, why should the boss let the candidate participate?
Jennifer L. Parent, NHBA President-Elect, pictured above, and Richard Y. Uchida, below, NHBA Past President, are co-chairs of the Leadership Academy Steering Committee.
Parent: The Leadership Academy will expose participants to the characteristics and traits of a leader. Newer attorneys will develop leadership skills that they can then use in the groups and institutions where they work. Participants will learn about such things like running a meeting, media relations, public speaking, personal leadership style, and professionalism.
The participants will take their experiences back to their employers for use both inside and outside the practice of law.
Uchida: Most law firms barely have time to mentor their newer lawyers in networking, community involvement and leadership of small projects inside a firm. To be able to take advantage of a thoughtful program dedicated to the development of leadership seems to me to be a godsend to many firms that want to breed leaders, but lack the time and effort to do so.
Q. What criteria will be used to select the participants?
Parent: Lawyers with 3-to-10 years of practice in our Bar may apply to the Academy. The goal is to obtain diversity in the program. The application process hopes to identify those committed to the program and who have a strong interest in leadership within the profession.
Uchida: It will be important to select people who can work well together and who are eager to make a difference – whether inside or outside the practice of law. We want classes that are diverse – taking into consideration the type of practice, firm size, and practice location. In addition to lawyers from private law firms, we hope that we attract those who serve as in-house counsel, municipal or state government lawyers, public interest/public sector lawyers, and others with diverse professional experience. A person’s background, life experiences and the reasons for seeking admission to the Academy will be critical.
Q. Can you give examples of outcomes that will measure success for this program?
Parent: Measuring the success of the program can be demonstrated by increased participation by newer lawyers in the Bar Association as well as the profession in a variety of capacities.
An important goal of the Academy is to maintain and foster the cohesiveness of each class. Success will be measured in the relationships developed among participants as well as the promotion of civility and professionalism in the profession and among the classes.
Uchida: In the short term, creating a class of lawyers who enthusiastically embrace leadership opportunities of all kinds will represent success.
We will ask our graduates to keep us informed of their work and success. I am confident that within five years, we will begin seeing great progress that will grow in the years to come.
Q. Will it be fun?
Parent: Absolutely. The program includes hands-on and interactive sessions. It fosters relationships and team-building with direct, face-to-fact interaction with others. Having fun along the way to building leadership skills will only strengthen each participant’s experience. Being engaged, taking action, and making a difference is fun.
Uchida: We informally developed a mini-version of this program, conducting a new leaders retreat at Waterville Valley in 2004. Today, many of those who were at that retreat are now leaders in their firms, in the bar, and in their communities. I believe every one of those attendees would tell you they had great fun during that program. Fun and enjoyment are critical elements in motivating people. We wouldn’t be effective leaders if we ignored this.