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Leadership Briefings

  • Leadership Development in Law Firms: Current and Future Practice (PDF) NEW!
    This report examines the ways in which law firms are attempting to develop their leaders to meet the challenge of an increasingly complex environment. In addition, it will outline some of the innovative practices being used in other industries, which have the potential to be introduced to law firms. The findings are based on interviews with law firm partners, professional development directors, consultants to law firms and H.R. practitioners in other industries.
  • A Brief Q&A on Coaching Lawyer-Leaders with Ted Grubb, CCL Legal Sector Faculty Member (PDF)
    Ted Grubb has coached hundreds of senior executives, including lawyer-leaders who work for some of the largest law firms on the planet. He is a trusted advisor who helps both individuals and teams become self-aware, understand their impact and make better-informed choices for their organizations and their careers. As a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®), Ted is one of our resident coaching gurus. He has developed "how to" courses on effective coaching and has authored a paper on "Coaching Senior Leaders" that appears in The CCL Handbook of Coaching. We recently asked Ted to share his thoughts and insights on coaching lawyer-leaders—from the process used to the challenges encountered. A summary of that conversation can be found in this brief Q&A.
  • A Brief Q&A with Roland Smith, CCL Legal Sector Faculty Member (PDF)
    Roland Smith is passionate about leadership and the law. As a senior faculty member and course designer for the Center for Creative Leadership's Legal Sector, he partners with some of the world's largest and most prestigious firms. He speaks at law conferences, writes for law journals and teaches a course on leadership for a North Carolina law school. Along the way Roland has developed insights on what it takes to lead a law firm well — especially during times of upheaval. He shares his perspective in this brief Q and A.
  • Improving Performance by Promoting Attorney Health (PDF)
    A recent pilot study by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found that firm attorneys lagged well behind their peers from other industries in exercise and fitness levels. Significantly, 64 percent said they wished their firm would do more to support wellness. In this brief report compiled by Sharon McDowell-Larsen, a CCL expert who helps senior-level executives improve their fitness levels and reduce disease risks, she details a number of specific ideas for promoting wellness among hard-driven attorneys pressed for time — from how to build more activity into your day to how to eat more prudently.
  • The Struggles of Lawyer-Leaders and What They Need to Know (PDF)
    Law firm leadership differs from practice management. Leadership is about producing change, while management focuses on producing predictability over processes. As part of a series on the changing nature of leadership in law firms, this article explores the leadership of law firms today and the skills necessary to succeed, thrive and soldier forward during uncertain conditions. It draws from ongoing research by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), involving hundreds of attorneys in both global firms and midsized U.S. firms.
  • The Challenges Lawyer-Leaders Face — Survey Results (PDF)
    After surveying nearly 150 lawyers, it is clear that lawyer-leaders are grappling with leadership challenges that directly impact their ability to be successful attorneys. The top four challenges facing lawyer-leaders are: balancing multiple work priorities, improving the firm's culture, effectively leveraging attorney talent, and leading teams of lawyers. See how the challenges you are facing compare to the results of our lawyer-leader challenge survey.
  • Changing Nature of Leadership in Law Firms (PDF)
    At its most fundamental level, leadership is about producing change, while management focuses on creating processes to produce predictable results. This article explores the practice of leadership in law firms today and discusses what will be necessary for firms to succeed and thrive in the future.
  • Changing Nature of Leadership in Law Firms - Part 2 (PDF)
    Our research is consistent with other studies on leadership impact—although technical excellence and intellect make attorneys top individual performers, emotional intelligence is the key characteristic of great leaders.

Relevant Articles

Relevant Podcast

Recent Presentations & Conferences

Center for Creative Leadership faculty members participate in a variety of conferences and events to advance the understanding, practice and development of leadership across the legal industry. CCL also provides speakers to key events in the lawyer-leadership development field.

March 22, 2013
Teaching Leadership Competencies in Law School and in the Profession: Why It Matters (Keynote)

Santa Clara University School of Law
5th Annual Leadership Education Roundtable
Santa Clara, CA

November 9, 2012
General Counsel as Boundary Spanners: Are you ready for the C-Suite?

The General Counsel Forum
14th Annual Conference of the General Counsel Forum
San Antonio, TX

September 14, 2012
Changing Nature of Lawyer Leadership

Corporate Counsel Institute
Suffolk University Law School
Boston, MA

April 25, 2012
The Changing Nature of Leadership: Are You Ready for the C-Suite?

The General Counsel Forum
Houston Chapter 2nd Quarterly Event
Houston, TX

April 13-14, 2012
Leadership and the Law Summit

Sponsored by: Center for Creative Leadership, Elon Law School and Elon University
Greensboro, NC

October 1, 2011
Navigating the Rapids of Change

Idaho State Bar
Idaho Academy of Leadership for Lawyers
Banks, ID

September 30, 2011
Changing Nature of Leadership for Lawyers

Idaho State Bar
Idaho Academy of Leadership for Lawyers
Boise, ID

September 29, 2011
From Strategy to Execution

Global Corporation
In House Counsel and Compliance Department Corporate Retreat
Colorado Springs, CO

July 14, 2011
Leadership Skills for Lawyers

Idaho State Bar
Idaho State Bar 2011 Annual Meeting
Sun Valley, ID

March 14-15, 2011
Unlocking the Secrets of...and Redefining Attorney Success

Center for Legal Inclusiveness
Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit
Denver, CO

March 14-15, 2011
Exploring Lawyer Effectivness in a VUCA World: What Will Truly Drive Attorney Success?

Center for Legal Inclusiveness
Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit
Denver, CO

February 11-12, 2011
The Hole in the Holy Grail: Strategies for Building Collaborative, Cohesive and Effective Law Firms in the Current Practice Environment

University of North Carolina School of Law
Festival of Legal Learning
Chapel Hill, NC

July 27, 2010
Using Leadership Skills to Reinvent the Courts

Conference of Chief Justices/Conference of State Court Administrators
2010 Annual Conference
Vail, CO

May 7, 2010
Peak Performing Corporate Counsel

Private Corporation
Integration Conference
Atlanta, GA

April 28, 2010
Leadership as an Essential Lawyering Skill

Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP)
Annual Education Conference
San Juan, Puerto Rico

April 16, 2010
Leadership Roundtable Discussion on Firm Leadership: Other Perspectives

University of Santa Clara Law School
Annual Conference
Santa Clara, CA

April 8, 2010
Navigating Complexity and Uncertainty: The Journey of Midsize Firms

Midsize Law Firm Association
Annual Conference
Los Angeles, CA

November 11, 2009
Changing Nature of Leadership: A Global Look

International Trademark Association (INTA)
Miami, FL

November 9, 2009
Special Webinar Session

Professional Development in Law Firms - How To Give Effective Feedback

October 28, 2009
Challenges of In House Counsel

Private Corporation
Annual Conference
Annapolis, MD

July 23, 2009
Strategic Agility

Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights
Karamah Law and Leadership Program 2009
Washington, D.C.

July 9, 2009
Self Awareness and Assessment for Development

Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights
Karamah Law and Leadership Program 2009
Washington, D.C.

June 25, 2009
ALI-ABA/NALP Lawyer Development Institute: Developing Superior Law Firm Leaders

Leadership Development Programs for Key Partners
Washington DC

April 16, 2009
Navigating the Rapids of Change: Understanding the Role of Lawyer Leaders as Change Guides

Greensboro Bar Association
Greensboro, North Carolina

January 14, 2009
Skills for Second Year Law Students (2Ls)

Elon Law School: Leadership
Greensboro, North Carolina

November 10, 2008
Leading in Times of Change

Global Law Firm Operating Officers Meeting
Chicago, Illinois

November 10, 2008
Influence Tactics to Effect Change

Global Law Firm Operating Officers Meeting
Chicago, Illinois

November 8, 2008
Leadership Skills for Lawyers

New York Bar Association Journal
New York State Conference of Bar Leaders and the Law Practice Management Committee
New York, New York
View Brochure (PDF)

July 14-15, 2008
Global Law Firm Talent Summit

Paris, France

June 20, 2008
Transformation: Leading Firms in Times of Complexity and Uncertainty

2008 Americas Meeting, TerraLex
Denver, Colorado

February 7, 2008
Leading in Times of Complexity

PDC Winter Conference "Leading the Way"
Orlando, Florida


To learn more about CCL's Legal Initiative research, or to participate/partner in this ongoing research effort, please contact:

Roland Smith, Ph.D.
Senior Research Faculty
smithro@ccl.org