Lawyers are leaders, whether in the courtroom, the boardroom, or on the political stage. But being an effective lawyer requires more than a mastery of legal terminology and knowledge of the intricacies of our justice system. It requires keen leadership, expert acumen, and strength of judgment. It requires the ability to fashion a vision for the bigger picture and, more importantly, the ability to create a desire in others to adopt that vision. And yet studies show that lawyers lack the critical leadership skills that are necessary for success, including stepping out of established comfort zones, embracing collaboration, and cultivating empathy.
The Leadership Fellows Program seeks to change that by providing law students with a unique opportunity to develop effective leadership skills. By refining these skills while still in law school, Fellows are at a distinct advantage upon entering the competitive legal marketplace. While in the Program, students increase their ability to make ethical and professional decisions, expand their communication skills, manage other people and projects, prioritize competing demands, and seek out and foster greater responsibility.
The Leadership Program has three pillars. First, the in-class component, Leadership, Ethics and Decision-Making, is taught by our beloved Professor Paula Franzese, and combines readings on the dynamics of effective leadership with the Leadership Speaks series, featuring presentations by distinguished public and private sector leaders. Next, the Student Leadership Projects allow Fellows to work in teams in consultation with Prof. Franzese and Alumni Mentors to design and implement community-based leadership initiatives, putting theory into practice. The final pillar is aimed at Cultivating Self-Awareness, Accountability, Responsibility and Resilience, by allowing Fellows to engage with Prof. Franzese and each other for individual and group assessments.
This year's Fellows engaged with the community and the profession in a range of dynamic ways. Working in teams, they implemented projects in a broad range of crucial social, legal, and political arenas. Promoting Wellness worked toward de-stigmatizing mental health, specifically in the legal community, by educating their peers on resources available to students. Debt Paid partnered with the NJ Reentry Court to create a Job Readiness Guide, host a clothing drive, and work with former prisoners to find new work opportunities. In Partnership with Jersey City Youth Council created leadership skills training and academic success programs for first-time youth offenders. Girl Power taught empowerment and self-esteem workshops to Newark middle-school girls, a critical age group where girls’ self-worth tends to steeply drop. Operation Underground Railroad worked to put an end to online sex trafficking in the United States by hosting symposia at the Law School and promoting a recently proposed federal law. These projects allow Leadership Fellows to take initiative in helping to make their communities better and shed light on issues that desperately need to be tackled.
Throughout my three years at Seton Hall Law I have actively sought out various opportunities to lead and have endeavored to help make the Law School a strong and engaged community of future lawyers. This past year I had the distinct honor and privilege of serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Seton Hall Legislative Journal. In that capacity, I have striven to maintain a standard of excellence on our journal and work in a collaborative environment with my classmates, the Law School faculty, and administration. In taking on leadership roles in the Law School I have realized the immense necessity of the Leadership Program and the immeasurable wisdom that Prof. Franzese imparts to her students, and I greatly admire and respect the work that my classmates are doing to bring about change in our school and greater community.
You can read more about the Leadership Fellows course and the great work of this year's teams at the link below.
Pictured Above: Professor Franzese (left) with members of Operation Underground Railroad (left to right) Rob Faugno, James Catania, Angela Cooper, Vanessa Pinto and Taryn Elliot.