Notwithstanding the increasing importance of technology, the practice of corporate law is — and is likely to remain for the foreseeable future — a human capital business. As a result, law firms must continue to attract, develop, and retain talented lawyers. Unfortunately, the traditional approach, which divides responsibility for professional development among law schools, which are supposed to teach students to think like a lawyer; law firms, which are expected to train associates to “be” lawyers; and corporate clients, whose job it is to foot the bill, is no longer well aligned to the current realities of the marketplace. This article documents the causes for this misalignment and propose a new model of professional development in which law schools, law firms, and corporate clients collaborate to train lawyers to be lifelong learners in the full range of technical, professional, and network-building skills they will need to flourish throughout their careers. It offers specific proposals for how to achieve this realignment and confront the resistance that will inevitably greet any attempt to do so.

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Citation:  Westfahl, Scott A. and Wilkins, David B., The Leadership Imperative: A Collaborative Approach to Professional Development in the Global Age of More for Less (August 3, 2017). Stanford Law Review, Vol. 69, No. 6, 2017; HLS Center on the Legal Profession Research Paper No. 2017-1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3013150