Throughout history, the legal profession has been the source of most of the leaders in our society. UT Law graduates are no different. UT Law alumni have served—and continue to serve—as US senators, members of Congress, state legislators, federal and state judges, bar leaders, business leaders, thought leaders, public and non-profit leaders, and leaders for our local communities and charitable organizations. The values these leaders incorporate into their professional personae contribute greatly to the efficacy and impact that these lawyers demonstrate in the profession and their organizations.
Leaders today face challenges of incredible breadth and complexity. The problems we face as a society can only be solved by trained and committed leaders. At the same time, the public lacks confidence in many of our leaders.
While legal education has played a role in the past, it has been indirect and fairly inefficient. However, law schools like UT Law can and should step forward and become much more intentional about training our future leaders.
Future lawyers should receive guidance and encouragement to develop the values that are essential to success in the practice of law. Lawyers must understand and appreciate their duties to clients, as well as their obligations as members of the bar. Further, lawyers should embrace the special role the profession plays in the legal system and society, demonstrate a strong work ethic, effectively build and maintain professional relationships, and continuously seek personal growth and fulfillment.
The primary purpose of UT Law’s Institute for Professional Leadership is to provide a single unit within the college that focuses and coordinates efforts at the College of Law and in other disciplines at UT to:
- prepare students intentionally and reflectively to prepare for careers as professionals by providing curricular, extracurricular, and co-curricular programming and opportunities that will facilitate the development of professional values and leadership qualities
- produce research and scholarship on topics related to the development of professional values and leadership qualities within the legal profession
- coordinate interdisciplinary symposia and projects
The Institute of Professional Leadership promotes and supports research and scholarship focused on how law schools and the bar can work together to better prepare students and new attorneys to successfully enter the profession. The institute incorporates leadership, professionalism, ethics, and civility in existing law school courses and offers continuing legal education (CLE) for practicing attorneys on issues of leadership, ethics, and professionalism.
Access-to-justice programming, including UT Pro Bono, facilitates the development of professionalism and service early in law students’ careers. This promotes exposure to access-to-justice needs through experiential opportunities.
The institute also coordinates with the Career Center to offer expanded outreach to alumni, bar associations, and courts to establish mentoring relationships between practicing professionals and our students.