Outline and Boxes on a Blue Blackground


The role of a lawyer is to advocate, persuade, engage in difficult conversations, and work with others to resolve conflicts or to achieve a common goal. In short, lawyers must lead. Acquiring a core set of skills and a leadership mindset can transform lawyers into strategic and creative thinkers with the vision to change the world for the better—and influence others to do the same.

How do law students become lawyers who can effectively guide teams and institutions through complex challenges? 

Through programs such as the Davis Polk Leadership Initiative and the Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership—along with courses, workshops, and other professional development opportunities— students learn to be leaders in both the private and public sectors.

Why Columbia?

Take advantage of intensive courses and experiential learning opportunities to develop leadership skills and advance meaningful institutional and social change, such as Lawyer Leadership, Structural Change in Public Education (an immersive full-semester program in public education), and the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic and Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic.

Spearhead real-world projects to make a positive impact on the Law School community, the legal profession, and the broader community through funding and resources provided by the Davis Polk Leadership Fellowship and Innovation Grants. 

Learn from visiting leaders-in-residence in the Reuben Mark Initiative’s In-House Counsel Program, who have served as general counsel, chief legal officers, and senior executives at top companies, such as Pierre Gentin, McKinsey’s Global General Counsel, and Sheila Cheston, corporate vice president and general counsel for Northrop Grumman Corporation.   

Develop essential skills around vision and strategy, management and teamwork, problem solving, and cultural literacy through workshops, coaching, training, and other programming.

Receive one-on-one mentoring from experienced practitioners, staff, and faculty to develop leadership skills related to your career goals and aspirations.

“We are committed to teaching the skills that prepare students to excel in the diverse roles they will occupy over the course of their careers—as both lawyers and leaders in society.” 
Gillian Lester, Columbia Law School Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law

Related Faculty

Related Centers and Programs

Davis Polk Leadership Initiative

Through the Davis Polk Leadership Initiative, Columbia Law offers courses, workshops, and research and professional development opportunities to teach students to be leaders in both the private and public sectors worldwide. Students learn not only to manage the everyday practice they will pursue, but also to rise to complex challenges throughout their careers.

The Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership In-House Counsel Program

The Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership leverages the intellectual capital of Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School to design courses and programs that teach the leadership skills and strategies necessary to create an optimal organizational culture. The initiative’s In-House Counsel Program offers students innovative and rich courses, research, and programming exploring the role of the in-house counsel as strategic partners and leaders within companies and organizations.

Center for Public Research and Leadership

The Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) aims to revitalize public education while filling substantial gaps in professional education. CPRL’s rigorous coursework, skills training, and research and consulting projects prepare graduate students in law, business, and public policy for careers in the education sector. With an eye toward improving outcomes for all children, CPRL utilizes the latest techniques in education, such as organizational design, democratic accountability, team-based problem-solving skills, and socio-emotional learning. Students can also participate in a semster-long intensive around transformational change in public education by enrolling in the Public Education Policy Lab-Seminar and Skills courses. 


Columbia Law School Mindfulness Program

Founded in 2017, the Columbia Law School Mindfulness Program is a community of faculty, staff, and students committed to the practice of mindful awareness and the examination of how it informs our understanding of law and lawyering.

Areas of Study

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Public Interest/Public Service

No matter what your area of interest, find ways to incorporate public interest and public service into your academic program and career.

Academics Careers