WHEN BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEMBERS suggested that teaching leadership skills could be useful to future lawyers, Albany Law School wasted no time, launching a new course last spring. Based on input from the board and suggestions from the legal community, Rosemary Queenan, associate dean for student affairs, and Mary Walsh Fitzpatrick, assistant dean of the Career and Professional Development Center, developed Lawyers as Leaders to prepare students for the expanding role of lawyers in today’s legal market.
Fitzpatrick often hears from employers that a distinguishing characteristic of Albany Law School graduates is their significant practical experience. She said that “adding to this toolkit of practical skills was an important goal in developing this class.” Throughout the class, students practiced team building and project management, along with communication and presentation skills.
Queenan and Fitzpatrick created an interactive format, with teams of students assigned to hypothetical organizations. The students spent the semester wrestling with various issues through simulated exercises designed to focus on building and leading an effective team, developing a mission statement, holding an organizational meeting, and building team consensus around a proposed solution. The class concluded with each team presenting a formal proposal on their recommended solution to an ethical problem.
Queenan and Fitzpatrick also invited distinguished alumni, including Andrea Colby ’80, Jim Hacker ’84, Matthew Herman ’94, and Mayor Kathy Sheehan ’94, to share their leadership experiences with the students. Troy Riddle, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion, also led a class on having difficult conversations. Queenan said their goal is to “use our collective knowledge and experience to fulfill Albany Law School’s mission to educate and empower tomorrow’s leaders.”