The Lawyers Leadership Initiative is dedicated to empowering the next generation of lawyers to drive positive and transformative change in and through the practice of law for a thriving profession and a more promising world. 

Change is the law of life.
And those who look only to the past or present
are certain to miss the future.
— John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President

We are building, supporting, and linking communities of practice that nourish the future possibilities for you and our profession.


Join a facilitated, small group "pod" for a safe, confidential place to discuss and work on the challenges you face, to learn, grow, and realize your fullest potential.



Strengthen and advance your personal and professional leadership skills for greater satisfaction, resilience, and creativity while finding or staying true to your purpose.


Connect, mobilize, influence and take action with other lawyers, law students, and educators who share your values, aspirations and goals for our profession. 

We know.  Lawyers are notoriously risk-averse.


Most of us don't like change, let alone seek it out.  At least until there is no other choice.   But by then, it's often too late to do much of anything at all.

While we recognize this pattern in the profession as a whole, we also see lawyers in all practice areas and at all levels of experience as well as legal educators and law students who understand that our "make it or break it" moment is already here.

For many of us, the practice of law is no longer sustainable in the ways it once was.  And this is true throughout the legal system.

So much has already been spoken and written about the disruptive factors reshaping the practice of law.  No matter where we find ourselves in service of the legal system - government lawyer, law firm associate, partner, corporate counsel, solo practitioner, social justice activist, policy advocate, unemployed recent graduate, law student, tenured faculty, adjunct professor, legal apprentice, unpaid intern - we know rapid change is happening and we are experiencing its effects now.

The whole legal system is being stretched and so are we.  Each of us holds a personal story of what it's like to live in the midst of these changes.  And many of us are openly reconsidering how, where, or even whether we still fit.

Meanwhile, society's need for lawyers remains great.  

Whether for the vast number of people still without access to justice, the important legal issues that remain underrepresented or without any voice in our courts and legislatures, the accelerating complexity of laws and regulations affecting our clients, or the continuing conflicts and growing social divide within and among our communities, there are many places where lawyers are needed to serve.  

That said, it has become increasingly difficult to find jobs that also offer financial security, a reasonable work-life balance, mentorship, and professional skills development.   As a result more and more recent graduates are hanging out their own shingle, volunteering their time just to gain a foothold, or seeking something else to do with their degree.  And seasoned lawyers are choosing to leave the practice altogether.

Most lawyers truly want to make a positive difference.

We have observed that many of us are initially drawn to our profession with a heartfelt desire to advance the cause of justice, equality, freedom, and fairness with a bigger vision of becoming an agent of change - to build, to shape, to contribute, to make a positive difference, to create a meaningful impact, to help the world become a better place.

Then, perhaps during law school or during our early years of practice, a shift begins.  For some, our purpose becomes fuzzy, less influential, or less important given the demands of the legal system, the environments in which we work, or paying back our student loans.  For others, the purpose remains clear but the practical challenges in achieving real progress feel insurmountable.

Either way, we can find ourselves "muddling through" or "fighting back" just to make it through the day.  Years go by and we can become dissatisfied with the profession and dissociated from our purpose, feeling like what our work demands from us is irreconcilable with our own needs.  It's no wonder that lawyers reflect some of the highest rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and burn-out among professionals.

So, how will we find our way forward?

We're creating this fresh new forum because we know there's a need for a different way of exploring the challenges and opportunities that matter most to us in the field of law. 

We're bringing people together to engage in meaningful dialogue that fosters the quality of understanding and connection necessary to develop new knowledge, practices, courage, and commitment for renewal within our profession.

We're developing and teaching new tools that help to cultivate 21st Century lawyering skills among law students and practitioners while helping them find and stay connected to their purpose and sense of well-being.

We're building, supporting, and linking communities of practice within a larger network of like-minded others so that more voices can be heard for greater insight and potential.

And lastly, we're calling for a new caliber of leader and a new quality of leadership.  Today's lawyers must undergo a fundamental transformation in order to adapt to the social, political, economic, ecological, and legal realities of our times, a landscape almost unrecognizable from that of traditional legal theory and practice.


We believe that a new leadership capacity is necessary if we lawyers want to shape our own destiny.

We understand now from the art and science of leadership that different contexts demand different approaches to how we intervene.  Lawyers typically excel in contexts where the relationship between cause and effect can be understood through legal expertise, and the right answers can be determined based on facts.  However, neither our lives today nor the issues we face as practitioners are all so easily ordered and understood.

We are living in the midst of complexity.  Every day we face situations that are unpredictable and with multiple variables, all in flux at the same time.  The right answers cannot be perceived easily and more than one viable path forward exists.  We increasingly find ourselves tasked to make quick decisions based on incomplete information where we must rely less on past patterns and more on our capacity to pay attention and attune to the emerging future as it happens, moment by moment.  

Leading through complexity calls upon a totally different mindset than what most lawyers are trained for.

 The capacity to engage complexity with skill and timely action requires that we must collaborate together, something that often eludes us from the earliest days of law school when we are conditioned to compete with each other for the highest grades on the curve, the most prestigious clerkships, or the most coveted journals.  Many lawyers will agree that a competitive mindset pervades legal practice, along with a generally high level of distrust toward other lawyers.  

If we lawyers are to increase our insight, resilience and creativity to innovate and lead change - whether in our own lives, on behalf of our clients, or for the benefit of the legal system and society as a whole — we must modernize our approach to leadership with a special focus upon law students and early career lawyers.


Since the word “leadership” holds many distinct interpretations, let's be clear about what we mean.

It is no longer enough to say that leadership reflects the qualities, characteristics and personality traits of any individual alone - whether inborn or taught.  That suits a more traditional, hierarchical structure where a "leader" assumes control to drive an existing initiative forward.  Yet, this is the only context that most lawyers know and understand. 

To put it bluntly, the skills needed to ascend the ranks of the local bar association areentirely different from those needed to forge a path where none currently exists.

We see leadership as collaborative, relational, and generative. 

It begins by fostering critical connections with others who share a common cause or vision of what's possible.  Because only through our relationships to and with each other do future possibilities, as well as our wise next steps, become more clear and attainable.

We believe that the source of leadership arises through all people given the right conditions, meaning a participatory process that engages us in our diversity and our vitality toward continuous learning, deeper understanding, shared decision-making, and more timely action.

These are the qualities of leadership we need to navigate our way through the challenges and opportunities we face within and through the legal profession. 


Simple answer, we're hosting an experiment.

 We hold a lot of ideas and feel great excitement around what this initiative might become.  But in truth, we're right at the beginning of the journey and venturing into new territory ourselves.

But we believe it's time for a movement.

And we also recognize the importance of deeply listening for our purpose on a much larger scale than any one of us can see today.  So, rather than pretending we have the right answers, we will focus on asking the right questions.

For now, we begin with dialogue.

 We want to speak to and hear from stakeholders in the broader legal community and begin to make fresh sense of what's happening around us.  To do that, we are conducting action research, convening workshops and events, facilitating dialogues, gathering advisors, building a robust online community, and sharing our findings as we go.

We want deeper insight into the immediate and long-term challenges and opportunities that lawyers are facing both individually and collectively.

And we want to serve as catalyst for creativity and innovation in our profession.  But first, we need to make visible and discussable what is unseen and unsaid.  Then, together we can begin to create the conditions for all of us to achieve a more sustainable and flourishing ecosystem of practitioners, clients, and communities.


If lawyers are good at just one thing, it's advocating.  

Most of us do it every day on behalf of our clients.  Yet, how often do we do it for ourselves as a profession? 

We believe in being clear and vocal about what we stand for as practitioners who actively seek to shape our own future and make a difference in the world at the same time.

We Stand For:


 inclusive of the entire community of stakeholders


into today's challenges
and opportunities


to discuss concerns
and ideas for the future


about the issues
we care most about


and offering support
 to each other


as we live into the answers
to our questions


that draws upon and reflects our diversity

TAKING TIMELY ACTION together and on our own to create positive impact