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Missouri Bar 2021-22 Leadership Academy class launches

Changes to Leadership Academy designed to create more leadership opportunities, efficiency

The Missouri Bar’s 2021-22 Leadership Academy class officially launched last Thursday, with the 12 selected lawyers meeting in person at the Bar Center to gain an overview of what leadership opportunities they can look forward to over the next year. 

Leadership Academy is a program that helps recruit, train, and retain Missouri lawyers who have been admitted for 10 years or less (or are younger than 40 years old) for leadership positions in The Missouri Bar. The academy class completes a service project every year and participates in the bar’s Annual Meeting, Board of Governors and committee meetings, and leadership workshops. Following completion of the program, the class members commit to serving The Missouri Bar for two years – such as serving on committees or the Board of Governors, volunteering to speak at MoBarCLE events, and authoring articles for the Journal of The Missouri Bar. 

Anthony Meyer, a member of the 2021-22 class, said he is excited to learn about opportunities with The Missouri Bar. 

“Leadership Academy is a springboard to service with the bar in the future and that’s probably what I’m looking forward to the most, knowing that the people I’m making connections with now will all be leaders in the bar in the near future,” said Meyer, who joined The Missouri Bar in 2018. 

Developed by former Missouri Bar presidents Michael P. Gunn and Dana Tippin Cutler, Leadership Academy began in 2000. The class encourages diversity among the bar’s leadership since each class contains about a dozen lawyers who vary in gender, race, practice area, and geography. 

“We wanted to develop leaders – people who would get on the board and provide energy and substance and knowledge to move the bar in an ever-changing world and ever-changing state and ever-changing profession,” Gunn said in July

The diversity of the class is something that stood out to Meyer. Working at Lear Werts LLP in Columbia, Meyer said he primarily chats with the other lawyers at his workplace. So, having a program that allows him to meet lawyers who have different perspectives is invaluable.  

“We’re a statewide unified bar, so we’re all sort of contributing to the justice system and the governance of the state together in an important way, and Leadership Academy is a nice microcosm of that,” he said. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time in a couple of years that a Leadership Academy class is planning to meet in person for the entire class year, said academy advisor Jenna Homeyer. This year’s class will run from November 2021 through November 2022. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing how they improve as leaders as we do specific and intentional leadership CLEs and programs,” said Homeyer, an alumni  of the 2019-20 Leadership Academy class. “I’m also very excited because this is the first year that the class will be able to meet in person the whole year and I can already see a difference in being able to meet in person than in previous years, so I’m excited to see the connections they’re going to make.” 

Academy participants are nominated by their fellow lawyers, law firms, and leaders of local or specialty bars. Each nominee then fills out an application and a selection committee determines each year’s class participants. 

If lawyers are interested in joining Leadership Academy, Homeyer encouraged them to chat with one of the more than 200 academy alumni

Changes to Leadership Academy 

After identifying inefficiencies and receiving feedback from Leadership Academy alumni, The Missouri Bar implemented a few changes for this year’s class. 

First, The Missouri Bar has scheduled an event or activity every month for Leadership Academy – including virtual and in-person leadership sessions and professional development opportunities. These will help the class explore more dimensions of leadership and keep the momentum going between the class’s in-person meetings, said Tony Simones, director of Citizenship Education for The Missouri Bar. 

Second, the bar wanted to “spend more time challenging participants to think about the issues they will someday confront as members of The Missouri Bar leadership,” Simones said.  

The Leadership Academy will have discussions with academy alumni, experience various learning opportunities specific to Missouri lawyers, and interact with Missouri Bar staff to better understand the operations of the bar and the challenges facing the legal profession. 

Lastly, the bar has limited the options from which the Leadership Academy class will choose its project. Previously, the class would spend months discussing and exploring possible projects. By limiting the options to reflect areas in need of attention already identified in the bar’s Strategic Direction the class can quickly identify its project and refocus its energy – which means it will have more time to identify questions, create solutions, and see the results of their efforts. 

“Let me emphasize that Leadership Academy is an extraordinary program, and we will keep so many aspects of its emphasis on leadership and service,” Simones said. “We believe these changes will produce an extraordinary year for these future leaders.” 

Click here to read how Leadership Academy has helped improve the legal profession in Missouri over the last 20 years. To learn more about Leadership Academy and the nomination process, click here