Leadership Academy


The purpose of the Leadership Academy, an initiative of AAJ’s Diversity Committee, is to give AAJ members the skills and techniques needed to make them effective leaders in professional settings, in AAJ, and in their communities. AAJ’s Leadership Academy trains AAJ members who are interested in developing their leadership roles within AAJ.

AAJ is dedicated to ensuring high levels of leadership among its members, and, in particular, among those who are underrepresented within the Association. The Leadership Academy is made up of 14 to 16 plaintiff trial lawyers representing various backgrounds and practice areas. The group attends three sessions held in conjunction with AAJ meetings and conventions. Among other topics, workshops focus on developing emotional intelligence, increasing self-awareness, and the changing nature of leadership for lawyers.

Tuition for those accepted to AAJ’s Leadership Academy is $500. Scholarships are available to those who qualify. 

List of Past Participants

Sample Leadership Academy Alumni Interviews

What did you learn about yourself through the Leadership Academy?

I learned that I was more competent and effective than I was willing to admit. Prior to participating in this program, I perceived myself as timid and unassertive, but I learned very quickly that this was not the way others perceived me. Through many group exercises, I learned that being deliberative and circumspect did not mean that people like me had less to offer than others. What people like me need to improve is the way we inform others that we have taken stock of a problem and are deliberating to find a resolution—as opposed to remaining quiet and leaving others clueless of our intents.

Trudy Fenster, Lee J. Rohn & Associates, LLC

Why would you recommend the Leadership Academy to others?

I wish that everyone in AAJ had the opportunity to participate. The training is invaluable, and AAJ will be stronger as a result of this program.

Brenda Fulmer, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A.

What were your expectations of the Leadership Academy?

I thought I would learn more about networking and such things. I was surprised that I would learn about myself and how I think and work best—and how other people and personalities interact. And the best part was learning what makes a really effective leader. It’s one of those things where you know it when you see it. But have you really dissected what that leader is doing to make them so effective? We delved into that and came out understanding why.

Raymond Jones, Law Offices of Raymond R. Jones

Talk about the people you met as part of the process.

This has been one of the largest long-term benefits of the program. The friends I have made—the future leaders of AAJ—are some of the kindest, hardest working, and most amazing people I know. The group has gelled in ways I never thought possible. We are incredibly supportive of one another and keep in constant contact. They are truly some of my best friends.

Tim Williams, Dwyer Williams Potter Accident Injury Attorneys

For more information on Leadership Academy, please contact Durete Thompson at durete.thompson@justice.org or 202 684 9584

Eligibility/Selection Criteria

  • AAJ member in good standing
  • Member of underrepresented group within AAJ

Mandatory Training: 3 two-day sessions

  • Session A: Spring Board of Governors Meeting - April 17 - 18, 2018 (New York, NY)
  • Session B: 2017 Annual Convention 
  • Session C: Fall Board of Governors Meeting 

Session A


Leadership Academy Overview
Changing Nature of Leadership for Lawyers
Expectations and Discussion of Learning and Engagement
Defining Leadership for Lawyers
Values, Ethics and Professionalism


Communicating for Impact as a Lawyer
Increasing Self Awareness and Personal Effectiveness at the Individual Level for Lawyers including Myers-Briggs Type Inventory Self Assessment
Experiential Activity to Illustrate Behavioral Preferences and the Impact of Preferences on Individual Behavior
Authentic Leadership for Lawyers
Creating a Clear and Compelling Vision

Session B


Experiential Activity to Predict Team Performance in a Lawyer-Influenced Culture
Leading a Group of Lawyers: Awareness at the Team Level including FIRO-B Self Assessment
Introduction to Feedback Model
Effectiveness Factors for Successful Collaboration
Experiential Activity to Illustrate Effective Collaboration Practices


Lawyer Effectiveness and Quality of Life
Managing Stress
Impact of Diet and Exercise on Lawyering Effectiveness

Session C


Influence Tactics for Lawyers
Emotional Intelligence for Lawyers
Introduction to Leadership Legacy Project


Developmental Networks
Creation of a Development Plan for Lawyers (Individual Development Plan)
Leadership Legacy Project
Summary of Leadership Academy process and Re-Entry into the Workplace

If you would like more information regarding AAJ for sponsorship opportunities, please contact Durete Thompson at durete.thompson@justice.org or 202 684 9584.