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Scott Robbins credits Leadership Academy for 20 years of Missouri Bar involvement

TW_Leadership Academy series_Scott RobbinsPoplar Bluff lawyer Scott Robbins participated in the 2nd Missouri Bar Leadership Academy class in 2001-02 – a decision that he said has left an impact on him two decades later.

Leadership Academy will accept nominations for the 2023-24 class May 1-26. Founded in 2000, the program encourages diversity among the bar’s leadership by recruiting and targeting young lawyers or those recently admitted to the bar. Each class is comprised of about a dozen lawyers who are diverse in various aspects and who have shown exceptional leadership qualities in their communities. The class completes a service project every year and participates in bar meetings and leadership workshops. Following graduating from the program, members commit to servicing The Missouri Bar in an active capacity for two years.

Robbins – with Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC – currently serves on The Missouri Bar Board of Governors and is chair of the Editorial Board of the Journal of The Missouri Bar. He was a Leadership Academy advisor and served on The Missouri Bar Young Lawyers’ Section Council and Client Security Fund Committee.

Why do you think Leadership Academy is a valuable opportunity for lawyers?

“During my time with Leadership Academy, I learned about the rich heritage of Missouri lawyers and their example of leadership, not just with the bar, but in their local communities and around the world. I was inspired to give back to the profession that was giving me the opportunity to make a difference for my family and my community.”

What are some lessons you took away from being part of Leadership Academy?

“The importance of generosity in terms of time, talent, and finances. So many fabulous lawyers – like Dana Tippin Cutler, Doreen Dodson, and Maurice Graham – were generous with their time to meet with us and explain why Missouri Bar service was important. They were generous with their talent, showing us how to handle difficult situations with grace and understanding. I was reminded that differences of opinion were a good thing, so long as the discussion was focused upon solving a problem and not putting down another. We were reminded that kindness and civility are always required of a lawyer. Too often, our profession focuses on the adversarial nature of the practice of law, and we forget that ‘the other side’ faces the same problems we do.”

How do you think the lessons and skills you learned from Leadership Academy have translated to your leadership roles and career since?

“Leadership Academy taught me to be more inclusive as a leader, making sure that everyone on the team felt valuable and that their opinion mattered. I’ve used this skill at work, with Missouri Bar committees, and with committee work at church. There is great value in a simple phone call, text, or handwritten note of encouragement and gratitude.”

What was your favorite part about being in Leadership Academy?

“Easily the camaraderie and friendships built while engaged in our class project. It was in Leadership Academy that I first heard The Missouri Bar described as a ‘Winnebago of Love’ by Rod Chapel. Rod was trying to sum up the fact that those of us who serve do so together for the love of the profession. I stay in frequent contact with Vanita Massey, Megan Phillips, and Matt Devoti, whom I would never have met without Leadership Academy.”

What would you say to encourage lawyers to apply for Leadership Academy?

“Give it a try. There are very few opportunities in life as rewarding as the Leadership Academy. The skills learned transfer to every part of the legal profession and of life. Who doesn’t want to be a better lawyer and person?”

Why do you think it’s important for lawyers to get involved in their state and/or local bars?

“The legal profession is stronger when there are more involved. Geographical diversity is as important as racial and gender diversity. There are fantastic lawyers in rural Missouri who have a lot to contribute, both locally and statewide. The local bars and The Missouri Bar provide a great opportunity to become a bigger part of the profession.”

Editor’s note: These answers have been edited for clarity and conciseness. Learn more about Leadership Academy here.