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The Leadership and Innovation Forum

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Located at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (Pitt Law), the Leadership and Innovation Forum began in 2011 as a voluntary workshop for faculty, staff, and students led by Professor Michael Madison. The workshop formed the core of the Technology, Law, and Leadership seminar launched in 2020.

Present day, and since 2020

Since the Fall of 2020, the Leadership and Innovation Forum has consisted of a formal seminar, titled Technology, Law, and Leadership. Information about the seminar is available here.


[The announcement, outline and syllabus for the Fall 2019 Leadership Forum are reproduced below.]

For the 2019-2020 academic year, the Leadership and Innovation Forum will consist of weekly, informal roundtable conversations led by Professor Michael Madison, a member of the faculty at Pitt Law, co-founder of the Future Law Works think tank, and co-host of The Future Law Podcast.

Schedule and Location

During the Fall semester, roundtable sessions will meet each Wednesday morning from 7:30 am to 8:45 am in Room 118 of the Barco Law Building on Pitt’s campus, 3900 Forbes Avenue, in the Oakland neighborhood. For coffee, tea, and/or something to eat, stop by any of Oakland’s plentiful coffee shops and restaurants beforehand. The sessions will be “come as you are.”

The first session will be on Wednesday, August 28, 2019. The last session of the Fall semester will be on Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

Each session will have a light theme, meaning a topical point to begin the conversation, supported by a short reading or other background material. For the schedule and the background material, see below.

Who is Invited

The Leadership and Innovation Forum is open to Pitt Law students, professional staff, and faculty; to Pitt Law graduates; and to friends of Pitt Law: students, professional staff, and faculty from other schools and centers at the University of Pittsburgh. There is no registration or RSVP. Because this is a voluntary activity with no academic credit or certification attached, please come if you wish. Students, faculty, and practicing professionals without Pitt affiliations are also welcome. Anyone who fits that description should simply let Professor Madison know ahead of time that they are planning to join.

The University of Pittsburgh is home to a number of different leadership development programs, certificates, and courses for faculty, staff, students, and graduates. At this page, I have started to collect them in a single place. Feel free to explore!


The goal of the roundtable sessions is informality and introduction. Across all professions, educators and mentors recognize a growing interest in and need for training in a broad set of skills and competencies that get bundled in the label, “the T-shaped professional.” The Leadership and Innovation Forum is intended to supply a sort of tasting menu for topics in the T-shaped “space.” What does each topic mean, why and how is it important to you, and how can you explore it further?

The basic idea behind the “T-shaped” metaphor is that at any level of experience, a professional needs both deep domain expertise (the vertical bar) and broad range of social skills (the horizontal bar). The Leadership and Innovation Forum offers introductions to those social skills, in a conversational setting rather than via lecture or workshop. Those competencies include:

  • Leadership
  • Project management and collaboration
  • Problem-solving (including change management, design, and innovation)
  • Strategic planning
  • Effective technology use
  • Adaptability and resilience
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Professional identity formation and ethical conduct
  • Communication
  • Cross-disciplinary, cross-functional, and cross-cultural awareness and practice
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • And the list may grow.

Law schools and other professional schools – and colleges – are not built to deliver training in T-shaped compentencies. [This blog post from Professor Madison offers some context.] So adapt they must. The Leadership and Innovation Forum is an attempt to adapt at Pitt Law. It is version 2.0; version 1.0 was a “Leadership Forum” developed previously by Professor Madison and summarized in this brief law journal article, titled Leading New Lawyers.

A Brief Overview of the Whole Experience

A lot of “leadership and innovation” learning experiences focus on close study of other people and other organizations, romanticizing the “heroic” leader and the “transformative” innovator.

I focus, instead, on leadership and innovation that starts with the individual: interests, goals, competencies, values, and visions. Leadership and innovation go hand-in-hand, but they can take root – and people can have enormous impact – at every scale: personal, family, neighborhood, community, country, the world. To me, leadership means “finding your own voice and helping others to find theirs.” To learn how it works for you, you have to learn about your self (not just “yourself”) and your places — plural — in the world that we know now, and the world that you might imagine helping to bring into being.

The Leadership and Innovation Forum is in many respects an extended conversation about the meaning of your voice and how it may apply in your own life and career.

Readings and Other Background Materials

Week 1, 28 August 2019: Where are we headed with this conversation?

Read in advance (a speech): David Weisbach, University of Chicago, Graduation Remarks to the Class of 2019

Week 2, 4 September 2019: Why and how are teams important?

Listen in advance (a podcast): This Working Life, What Martians Can Teach Us About Work

Week 3, 11 September 2019: Who are you?

Review in advance (a website): Carol Dweck, Mindset

Week 4, 18 September 2019: What’s your EQ?

Read in advance (a short article): Daniel Goleman et al., Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On?

Week 5, 25 September 2019: Leadership when it matters most

Read in advance ( a short journal article): US Army Research, Leadership When It Matters Most Lessons on Influence from In Extremis Contexts

Week 6, 2 October 2019: Setting goals, identifying visions

Review in advance (a short video): Dewitt Jones, Celebrate What’s Right

Week 7, 9 October 2019: Being a change agent

Read in advance (a business magazine article): Glenn Llopis, 5 Ways Leaders Enable Innovation In Their Teams

Week 8, 16 October 2019: Relationships

Read/listen in advance (a podcast & a transcript): Keith Ferrazzi, Why Relationships Are Crucial to Success

Week 9, 23 October 2019: Negotiating, and gender

Watch and listen (a short YouTube video): Linda Babcock, Carnegie Mellon University, on “Why Women Don’t Ask”

Week 10, 30 October 2019: Introduction to project management

Read: Project Management Overview

Week 11, 6 November 2019: Last meeting of the Fall semester

Watch (an hour-long YouTube film): Passion and Discipline: Don Quixote’s Lessons for Leadership

There is more to come. Watch this page, and watch the @IPI_Pgh Twitter feed.


Earlier versions of the Leadership and Innovation Forum were taught in a format described in detail in this journal article:

Michael J. Madison, Leading New Lawyers: Leadership and Legal Education, 83 Tenn. L. Rev. 751 (2016)