The University of Maryland School of Law, nationally recognized for its pioneering efforts to integrate legal theory and practice, is once again blazing a new trail in the ways that it prepares law students for careers both inside and outside of law practice.
In partnership with the Fetzer Institute of Kalamazoo, Mich., which is supporting the initiative with a $1.6 million investment, the School's administration and faculty will develop LEAD, a new initiative that emphasizes leadership, ethics, and democracy in legal education. Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law Michael Millemann will serve as LEAD's director. Marbury Research Professor of Law Paula Monopoli will head the leadership component of the Initiative.
The project was jointly announced by Karen H. Rothenberg, JD, MPA, dean of the University of Maryland School of Law, and Thomas F. Beech, president and chief executive officer of The Fetzer Institute.
See video of the announcement.
"In January 2007, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching challenged the country's law schools to change the way they teach," says Rothenberg. "With one of the oldest, biggest, and best clinical law programs in the country, we are ahead of the curve. Now, with the enthusiastic engagement of our faculty and the legal community, we are taking on the next great challenge -- leadership and ethics in law."
"The Institute recognizes the leadership demonstrated by the University of Maryland School of Law in educating lawyers who advocate for their clients, their profession, and their communities," said Beech. "We are excited to join the School in building upon that."
The Fetzer Institute, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a private operating foundation that works to bring compassion and reconciliation to the center of individual, community and organizational life. Over the past ten years, the Institute has worked closely with leaders in education, health, social service professions and business fields and other vocations to support various approaches designed to bridge the inner life of mind and spirit with the outer life of service and action.
In developing the leadership component of the initiative, the School will continue to collaborate with The James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park. In February, the School of Law and the Burns Academy conducted a roundtable with national business and law leaders to discuss the goals and methods for introducing leadership education into law schools.
Among the roundtable participants was Frank Burch, JD, an alumnus and joint CEO of DLA Piper, the world's largest law firm, who said, "The legal profession has traditionally produced leaders in a broad spectrum of fields, from law to business to public service and elected office. But law schools, unlike business schools and other professional schools, have not integrated leadership education into their curricula. Law schools should design courses and offer opportunities for future lawyers to prepare for leadership, just as they prepare for success as legal practitioners."
The program will serve as a national model. Diane Hoffman, JD, MS, associate dean for academic programs, said she hopes the ethics, professional, and leadership curriculum at the University of Maryland School of Law "will start a movement" at other law schools.
In response to the ethical challenges of modern law practice, an expanded focus on ethics and problem-solving will help students learn the habits of reflection and analysis needed to develop and retain a professional "moral compass". A cross-cultural component will expand the law school's clinical program to disadvantaged communities across the country and around the globe. Part of this effort involves creating a legal clinic in collaboration with the Mississippi Center for Justice, building upon Maryland students' ongoing volunteer response to the massive legal needs of low-income people and communities left in Hurricane Katrina's wake. The project will also launch the law school's first international clinic. These new clinics will take lessons learned in the School's Baltimore clinics to the broader national and international stage.
"This program makes a statement about how we are preparing students for law practice, and how we hope to have an impact on the profession and the practice of law," says Hoffmann. "It is a statement about the fact that there is a need for law schools to take more seriously their responsibility to embody the highest ideals of the profession."