In The Triad Business Journal's "Business of Law" supplement, published February 19, Elon Law dean George R. Johnson, Jr. describes the law school's leadership program and its purpose through an editorial entitled, "Building a New Generation of Lawyer Leaders."
In the editorial, Johnson writes, “Amid business and corporate scandals, political gridlock, a struggling economy, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and ever more coursening debates in the public square, honest and principled leaders of integrity appear to be in short supply.”
Johnson argues that the legal profession must contribute to the common good, as it has done historically, through leadership endeavors within the profession and in civic life.
The need for greater leadership in the legal profession and in public life, Johnson writes, is what led the administration of Elon University and the faculty of Elon Law to design a program of legal education that emphasizes leadership development.
“From our founding, we embarked with an ambitious idea to improve legal education by incorporating into our program of study some of the best principles from leadership education and by expanding the real-life learning and service opportunities available for our students,” Johnson writes.
In the editorial, Johnson describes the content of Elon Law’s leadership curriculum across all three years of law study, including mentoring and coaching programs led by practicing lawyers for first-year law students, direct work on the actual legal problems of nonprofit organizations by second-year law students, and year-long capstone leadership projects created and implemented by third-year law students.
“Elon Law recognizes that the lawyer’s first obligation may be to represent his client,” Johnson writes. “Our program, however, stresses more, including the obligation for lawyers to serve their communities in ways that advance the commonweal … Lawyers should be – indeed we must be – among those principled, ethical leaders of integrity who strive to make a difference.”
Click on the E-Cast link to the right of this article to read Johnson’s editorial in its entirety.
Johnson, a founding member of the faculty at Elon Law, became dean of the law school in February of 2009. Since that time he has overseen the creation of the law school’s Leadership Fellows program and the introduction of a revised first-year leadership curriculum into the law school’s winter term, among a series of initiatives to enhance the law school’s leadership development and practical learning experiences.
Johnson was assistant general counsel in the Executive Office of the President during the Carter administration and taught law at George Mason and Howard universities. He is former president of LeMoyne-Owen College and was a higher-education search consultant and in private practice in Washington, D.C.