I’m thrilled to have joined Seton Hall Law’s faculty full-time in January 2019 after 11 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. My hope is that my background will provide a unique opportunity for students to learn not only about the key statutes and case law relating to the various classes I teach, but also to gain insight into life as a practicing lawyer.
The Leadership Fellows Program at Seton Hall Law provides a unique opportunity for law students to cultivate essential leadership skills through experiential learning, teaching, engaging with select readings, participating in the Leadership Speaks series, and planning and executing a dynamic leadership project. Here is how this year's Leadership Fellows Amy Eng ('20) and Deidre Cooney ('20) describe their experiences in the program:
On the first day of orientation, Dean Boozang approached the podium and announced an obvious, but difficult truth to grasp: “Ninety-percent of you in this room will not be in the top ten-percent of your class.” As future lawyers, we know the profound impact grades can have and can get caught in the trap of constantly checking and calculating GPA. Yet it is a sad and undeniable truth of law school: not everyone can be top of the class. But this in no way means that the other ninety-percent of the class has no hope of success. In Professor Paula Franzese’s Leadership Fellows Program and its attendant Leadership, Ethics and Decision-Making class, students learn that grades are only one aspect of a multidimensional you.
Law school is one of the most demanding academic challenges that a student can face. Reading dozens of pages to prepare for class, learning a new way of critically thinking and carefully writing, searching for valuable work experience, and establishing relationships with fellow students and professors require lots of time and attention. When thinking about my own law school experience, as well as my experiences with students to date, there are a few key themes that seem crucial to success:
I encourage my law students to notice what successful law students do and to adopt these behaviors. Savvy learners realize that professors want you to succeed. Professors use a class syllabus and class policies to guide you toward success. Early on in each course, note the professor’s office hours and best contact method. Why? The professor is inviting you to engage with the material outside of class time—take advantage of this invitation.
Imagine this scenario. You read all of the assigned cases for Contracts, highlighted the parts that seem important in different colors, and even skimmed the notes and questions following the cases. That means you are prepared to effectively participate in class, right? Not quite.
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.
Law school exams present a unique set of stressors, inducing fear even in the most confident people. When the parade of horribles comes marching in - "I can't do this," "I'll never get all this done," "Everyone is so much more prepared than me," "I don't understand any of this" - stop that procession in its tracks and declare out loud: FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS.
Photo: Leadership Fellows Max Mescall, Mary Bessemer, Joanita Gakami, Nick Carlson and Cornelia Szymanski
The Leadership Fellows Program at Seton Hall Law provides a unique opportunity for law students to cultivate essential leadership skills through a series of interactive activities, reflections, and ultimately, through the planning and execution of a leadership project. Here is how Leadership Fellows Mary Bessemer ('18) and Cornelia Szymanski ('18) described their experiences in the program:
Bar passage is the gateway to practicing law; indeed, outside of Wisconsin, you cannot practice in the United States without it. But the bar exam is being transformed, and prospective students should understand these changes and their implications.
Ever heard of the concept of a “happy accident”? No? Because I like food so much, allow me to reduce it to the place I am most comfortable, the kitchen—where my best metaphors are concocted. Like Chocolate Chip cookies? Me, I love them. However, those delightful little mouthfuls of dough and chocolate were not the product of some great baker who painstakingly mixed dough with chocolate chips and baked them into a chewy, crunchy, brown-edged sweetness that melts in your mouth and which I, along with countless Americans cannot do without. You can take a lot away from me, but deprive me of my chocolate chip cookies and you will find one angry sweet-toothed Assistant Dean. But I digress.