Leadership Academy | The American Association For Justice Archive

Leadership Academy

AAJ Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Academy 

Due to the Covid-19 and the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, the 2020 Leadership Academy has been postponed. Please consider applying to one of AAJ’s leading programs in early 2021

The purpose of the Leadership Academy, an initiative of AAJ’s Diversity& Inclusion Committee, is to give AAJ members the skills and techniques needed to make them effective leaders in professional settings, in AAJ, and in their communities. AAJ’s Leadership Academy trains AAJ members who are interested in developing their leadership roles within AAJ.

AAJ is committed to ensuring high levels of leadership among its members who are underrepresented within the Association. The Leadership Academy is dedicated to improving, developing, and ensuring diversity among AAJ’s membership and its leadership, in particular, among those who are underrepresented within the Association. Up to 18 plaintiff trial lawyers representing various backgrounds and practice areas will be selected to attend three mandatory sessions held in conjunction with AAJ meetings and conventions. 

Attendance at all sessions is mandatory. Tuition for those accepted to AAJ’s Leadership Academy is $500. Scholarships are available to those who qualify.

 New in 2020, Reference & Recommendation Letter Required

Sample Leadership Academy Alumni Testimonials

  • “I cannot recommend Leadership Academy highly enough. Not only did I learn critical skills on how to lead and manage others, the intimate structure of the class created lifelong friendships with my fellow Leadership Academy graduates and AAJ staff.” – Joseph Gates (Class 5) Paul Byrd Law Firm, PLLC
  • “In order to attain a level of peak performance in your chosen practice of law, it is of utmost importance that you are able to relate well with your staff, manage your time efficiently, manage the inevitable stress in a healthy fashion, and obtain a work/life balance that will keep you thriving as you continue zealously representing your clients. The AAJ Leadership Academy arms you with these vital intangibles, and unlocks your true potential to succeed.” – Nicholas Johnson (Class 4) Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PPLC
  • “I have a newfound sense of confidence in my ability to be an effective leader. I made powerful friendships that I know will last a lifetime and am excited to use all the knowledge I gained during the Academy to help AAJ meet its goals.” –​ Vanessa Cantley (Class 1) Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger, PLC
  • “The things I learned about myself and the tools I acquired through the Leadership Academy helped me to become a better person, which in turn made me a better attorney and advocate for my clients.” – Kye Walker (Class 2) The Walker Legal Group
  • “AAJ Leadership Academy was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did I learn invaluable leadership skills, but I met people that I will consider close friends for the rest of my life. It was such a rewarding experience.” – Lindsay Cordes (Class 5) Thomas Law Offices


Special Thank You to Brenda S. Fulmer, Fulmer Family Foundation

To ensure the best experience and highest level of participation for the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Leadership Academy, the upcoming Leadership Academy class 8 will launch its first meeting at the Annual Convention in Washington, DC. 

Eligibility/Selection Criteria

  • AAJ member in good standing (Required)
  • Member of underrepresented group within AAJ (including ethnic/racial minorities, gender,
    sexual orientation, religion, age, and disability)

Attendance at all sessions is mandatory: 3 two-day sessions

  • Session A: 2020 Annual Convention - Thursday, July 9 and Friday, July 10 (Washington, DC)
  • Session B: 2020 Fall Board of Governors - Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1 (Washington, DC)
  • Session C: 2021 Winter Convention - Thursday, February 4 and Friday, February 5 (Palm Springs, CA)

Session A


  • Leadership Academy Overview
  • Leadership Academy Expectations & Norms
  • Values, Ethics, and Professionalism
  • Changing Nature of the Legal Profession
  • Feedback that Works


  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Self-Awareness
  • Awareness at the Group Level
  • Developing an Individual Development Plan

Session B


  • A Definition of Leadership
  • Influence
  • Navigating Change


  • Power of Communication
  • Collaboration in Action
  • Application of Lessons to Key Leadership Challenge
  • Refining Individual Development Plans

Session C


  • Reducing Rumination and Mental Stress
  • Resiliency and Sleep
  • Physical, Mental, Social, and Emotional Resilience: Research & Practice Sessions
  • Setting SMART Resilience Goals


  • Key Leadership Challenge Feedback and Coaching
  • Developmental Networks
  • Transferring the Learning
  • Closing with Lessions Learned and SMART Goals

Sponsorship Opportunity

Your contribution ensures that AAJ can continue this successful program and that the next generation of trial lawyers is the most influential, diverse, and effective of all. If you would like to support the Leadership Academy, you are welcome to contact me or please contact Catherine Rodman at Catherine.Rodman@justice.org

For more information on Leadership Academy, please contact Durete Thompson at durete.thompson@justice.org or 202 684 9584.

Special Thank You to Brenda S. Fulmer, Fulmer Family Foundation