Cover of Dangerous Leaders by Anthony C. Thompson
Dangerous Leaders
How and Why Lawyers Must Be Taught to Lead
Anthony C. Thompson


240 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804799256
Ebook ISBN: 9781503606531

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Excerpts and More

Flint, Michigan's water crisis, the New Jersey "Bridgegate" scandal, Enron: all these incidents are examples of various forms of leadership failure. More specifically, each represents marked failures among leaders with legal training. When we look closer at one profession from which we often draw our political, business, and organizational leaders—the legal profession—we find a deep chasm between what law schools teach and what the world expects. Legal education ignores leadership, sending the next generation of legally-minded leaders into a dynamic world dangerously unprepared.

Dangerous Leaders exposes the risks and results of leaving lawyers unprepared to lead. It provides law schools, law students, and the legal profession with the leadership tools and models to build a better foundation of leadership acumen. Anthony C. Thompson draws from his twenty years of experience in global executive education for Fortune 100 companies and his experience as a law professor to chart a path forward for better leadership instruction within the legal academy. Using vivid, real-life case studies, Thompson explores catastrophic political, business, and legal failures that have occurred precisely because of a lapse in leadership from those with legal training. He maintains that these practices are chronic leadership failures that could have been avoided. In examining these patterns of failures, it becomes apparent that legal education has fundamentally misread its task.

Thompson proposes a fundamental rethinking of legal education, based upon intersectional leadership, to prepare lawyers to assume the types of roles that our increasingly fast-paced world requires. Intersectional leadership challenges lawyer leaders to see the world through a different lens and expects a form of inclusion and respect for other perspectives and experiences that will prove critical to maneuvering in a complex environment. Dangerous Leaders imparts invaluable tools and lessons to best equip current and future generations of legal leaders.

About the author

Anthony C. Thompson is Professor of Clinical Law at New York University Law School, and the founding faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU. He is the author of Releasing Prisoners, Redeeming Communities (2008).

"The legal profession is a noble one with the ability to positively or adversely impact our society. This important book thoroughly dissects the implications of that power and enlightens us about the importance of training lawyers to be honorable public citizens. Professor Thompson's work is a compelling exploration of the role that training lawyers as civic-minded custodians of the rule of law can play in impacting the public good."

—Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

"With his signature candor and penetrating analysis, Anthony C. Thompson contemplates a sea change in legal education. Thompson rightly demands that law school must prepare lawyers to lead. And his book goes one step further, offering a clear and compelling roadmap for reimagining the training of lawyers as leaders, and for the development of lawyer leaders who are accountable not only to their clients, but to their communities."

—Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

"In this very important and original book, Anthony C. Thompson offers specific lessons focusing on what should be done differently so that law schools can effectively teach leadership skills. Beautifully written and comprehensively researched, Dangerous Leaders provides readers with excellent case studies as effective teaching and learning tools. This original book should be required reading for lawyers, law students, and legal educators."

—Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, University of California, Berkeley School of Law