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Being a Leader

Opinion: Being A Leader
March 9, 2013
By: Richard E. Shermanski Jr.
Guest Writer
Let me start with a reference to the title; “It ain’t easy!” For all those currently serving as Student Leaders throughout Thomas M. Cooley Law School, I tip my hat to you. You have taken the opportunity to step up among a field of future Attorneys and trust me, it can be a challenge. You will be questioned, debated, and sometimes even harassed. Sorry to inform you but, it comes with the territory.
That being said, if I can leave any advice to all those serving, who want to serve, and who will serve our school in the future it is this, “Keep an open mind and be able to Compromise.” Nothing gets done from debating issues time and time again. Nobody will want to step up and serve after you if you have set a bad example by not being able to work with others. For better or worse it is up to you as a Leader to a positive example and make others strive to want to pursue your position one day.”
As a member of a few Student Organizations (mainly the SBA and Moot Court), although, I encountered a number of differing opinions from both student and faculty, not a day went by that I was not enjoying myself. Having served from January 2010 to December 2012, I worked with countless committees, voted on countless resolutions, and attended countless meetings. These tasks can be daunting and at times frustrating, but you should know you are making a difference. By making yourself available to the students, you are getting to know the issues that affect them.

As future Attorneys, it will be required of all of you to at one point step up and be a Leader, whether it is to multiple people or just a single client, this will be your job one day soon.

As a Leader, people will look to you to help them and you not only must be willing to do so, you must truly want to. Being a Leader is not about resume building and going to meetings, you must have a true ambition to be responsible for the people you are connected to, otherwise you will really get nothing out of your role, and neither will those around you. As future Attorneys, it will be required of all of you to at one point step up and be a Leader, whether it is to multiple people or just a single client, this will be your job one day soon.
But always remember, a real Leader knows their limits. Nobody here is Superman; we are Law Students which means our free time is very limited. Between classes, case briefing, researching, prepping for exams, and other pressing obligations, there is not much time to dedicate to too many organizations. To be an effective leader -do yourself a favor and don’t spread yourself too thin and definitely don’t let your studies take a back seat to meetings and committee involvement- if you want to help those around you simply focus your spare time on a few organizations that have meaning to you.
However, let there be no reason to ever think you can’t be involved with a lot on your campus. Cooley needs Leaders to help get students active in all that is offered at our Law School. Yes, it is true that finding a balance between school, work and your Leadership roles can be tricky. Sometimes it may even require that you walk away from the organizations you are working with, but being a real Leader means knowing when it is time to walk away.
Finally, I just would like to say that I wish all those currently serving, in all the capacities that Cooley offers, all the best in their endeavors. I hope you all find a way to leave the organization you decide to lead in a better position than when you arrived and that you continue to help those who seek your advice. Public service has always been a passion of mine -I had the honor of serving the students of Auburn Hills for three wonderful years and had the opportunity to aide in projects that affected all students of Thomas M. Cooley Law School. As the old saying goes, “if you love what you do then you never work a day in your life.” Even though my time as a law student is coming to a close and I am currently completing my credits for my Externship in Pennsylvania, I still make time for students who need my advice. My goal was to lay a foundation for those who will follow me and to continue to help these organizations grow. Did I accomplish my goal? I am going to let the next generation of students be the judge of that.
In Summary - The Rules of a Leader:    
  • Seek to inspire and build
  • Know your limitations       
  • Don’t be afraid to step up
  • Don’t worry about titles
  • Lead by example
  • Don’t simply boss around others
  • Be aware of the needs and concerns of those around you
  • Always remembering, you are a Leader