Institute for Leadership in the Legal Profession

We are proud to announce that the HCBA “Law Firm Leadership” program will now be known as “The Institute for Leadership in the Legal Profession.” This new title reflects the evolution of the program over the last six years as well as the reputation and level of educational gravitas the program has achieved.

In 2014, a small group of leaders in the HCBA proposed the creation of a program to help prepare aspiring law firm leaders. No such program existed in Minnesota. Even nationally, there were very few formal programs with this specific focus. The program’s steering committee spent a year creating a comprehensive and cutting-edge leadership curriculum, and the program’s first class matriculated in 2015. The HCBA series continued to be offered in alternate years, and now has alumni from three cohorts with a fourth cohort beginning in 2021. In addition to the formal program curriculum, alumni of all three cohorts meet regularly to discuss current leadership issues and other topics of interest.

When the program was originally conceived, the focus was on law firm leaders. Over the years, it became clear that the content of the program would not only serve law firm leaders, but leaders in any kind of legal organization, such as law firms, nonprofit organizations, the public sector, and governmental entities. For that reason, beginning with the 2021 cohort, the Institute will be open to and focused on participants from a variety of settings, using both general and break-out sessions to address topics of universal and specific applicability. We look forward to welcoming not only law firm leaders, but leaders from a variety of other settings, including legal aid organizations.

Regardless of the kind of organization or particular role one fills, one thing is clear as related to leadership in the legal profession: nothing is more important to the success of a legal entity than competent leadership. It takes a nuanced leadership skillset to lead lawyers, as some of the attributes that make people great lawyers are also the very characteristics that make them challenging to lead and manage.

Every year, the Institute’s planning committee, chaired by Kendra Brodin, chief attorney development officer at Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, carefully reviews participant feedback from prior iterations of the program. Brodin explains that “while the foundation of the Institute’s programming is strong and proven, there is always room for improvement. For each new cohort, we carefully recalibrate and polish the program so that it gets better every time it is offered.” This constant responsiveness to the needs of future participants, the feedback from past participants, and the latest learnings on leadership has made the Institute one of the most advanced programs of its type in the nation. Many Institute graduates have gone on to manage their organizations, and many of those leaders have returned to serve on the Institute’s planning committee.

The curriculum of the Institute is divided into three core areas: (1) individual leadership strengths, styles, and self-awareness; (2) leading groups and teams; and, finally, (3) organizational leadership with a cohort model being central to the program. Lasting professional relationships are formed over the course of the program. Respected and experienced leaders, teachers, and experts present on their areas of leadership expertise. Participants also learn what not to do as a leader by considering cautionary tales of leaders and organizations that have struggled or failed in order to learn how to avoid those same mistakes.

The program is created for current and aspiring organizational leaders. The skills learned in the program can propel participants into leadership and significantly deepen and strengthen the skills of current leaders.

The 2021 Institute begins on February 17, 2021 and will be held for 7 sessions on alternate Wednesday afternoons. All programming will be offered virtually and in-person at the HCBA offices if conditions permit related to COVID-19.

Due to the cohort model of the program and the close professional relationships developed during the program, participation is capped in order to allow for group interaction and individualized learning. Many past participants have credited the Institute and their participation in the program as a “game-changer” in their development into the leaders they are today. For the full agenda and to register online go to: If you have any questions at all, please contact Kendra Brodin, Institute Planning Committee Chairperson, at

2021 Institute for Leadership in the Legal Profession Co-Founders


Jeff_Baill_500x750  Kendra Brodin Taft Headshot

Jeff Baill
Partner, Yost & Baill   


Kendra Brodin
Chief Attorney Development Officer, Taft

Some of the topics that will be covered in the 2021 Institute include:

  • Discovering the skills, attributes, and abilities necessary for effective leadership
  • Building personal, professional, and leadership development plans
  • Navigating the unique challenges and demands of leading lawyers
  • Developing and modeling emotional and interpersonal intelligence
  • Creating an inclusive workplace where everyone’s individual contributions are valued and where everyone thrives
  • Navigating difficult conversations and conflict with others
  • Incentivizing the behaviors and actions organizations desire
  • Appreciating the power of organizational culture and alignment to the bottom line and
    mission of the organization
  • Counteracting implicit bias and understanding the processes and norms that undermine diversity and inclusion efforts
  • Leading an organization through change, such as crises like the current pandemic, reorganizations, evolving technology, and leadership succession planning.