Lawyers lead in America. They always have. They probably always will. This Article suggests the reasons why. It also argues that if lawyers are destined to lead, then law schools should help law students develop an understanding of leadership theory and foster leadership skill development. The Article describes how a course called “Lawyers as Leaders” is taught at the West Virginia University College of Law, employing neutral facilitation techniques, as well as lectures, group discussions, journaling, and simulation activities. It then describes a powerful pedagogical tool that can be used to develop future leaders: “student-centered neutral facilitation.” It explains why neutral student-centered facilitation is an effective method for teaching leadership skills to law students. The Article begins and ends with two “facilitation stories,” highlighting the use of facilitation by experienced lawyers and law students alike. The first story is about the use of facilitation to help clients achieve their goals. The second is about a student in the midst of learning how to facilitate a discussion.
Tom, a senior partner in a law firm that represents many health care organizations, is called to the offices of one of his clients, an academic medical center. He learns that the center’s leadership wants to review how it can best contribute to helping the state address one of the more serious problems faced by policy makers in Appalachia today—opioid abuse and addiction. Most policy makers in the state and at the center are familiar with the problem, and many are addressing it in different ways. They are aware that state policy makers, including the Governor, legislators, law enforcement groups, prosecutors, addiction centers and clinics, and other health care organizations are launching initiatives to address the associated problems, but progress is slow. Coordination is needed. The medical center executives are struggling to prioritize their efforts. They have this nagging sense they can do more, and should, but they want to pause and reflect before they expend more resources on the problem.