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  • InsideTrack
  • May 03, 2023

    Making Leaders: Tips to Help Get You Going on a Leadership Path

    As a lawyer, you have the skills to be a leader. Here are more tips on cultivating leadership skills from State Bar of Wisconsin President Margaret Hickey.

    Shannon Green

    Group photo of 2023 Leadership Development Summit participants

    The State Bar welcomed these 24 lawyers for the 2023 Leadership Development Summit. For photos of the event, visit the album on the State Bar’s Facebook page.

    May 3, 2023 – As lawyers, you already have the skill to be leaders, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. Taking small steps starts you on the path.

    That was the message State Bar of Wisconsin President Margaret Hickey spoke to 24 lawyers who recently attended the State Bar’s Leadership Development Summit in Madison.

    Quoting leadership scholar Warren Bennis, she said, “The most dangerous myth is that leaders are born – that is nonsense. Leaders are made rather than born.”

    Hickey spoke on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at the Leadership Summit, which brings together State Bar leaders and new lawyers to give them the tools to become tomorrow’s leaders.

    Shannon Green Shannon Green is communications writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. She can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6135.

    Each year, 24 young lawyers nominated by State Bar leaders statewide attend the Leadership Summit. Participants display leadership capabilities, demonstrate a strong commitment to the legal profession, and possess the potential to be the next generation of State Bar leaders. For photos of the event, visit the State Bar’s Facebook page.

    Hickey offered her thoughts and tips on leadership.

    First, she said, understand that everyone struggles with imposter syndrome. “We all feel that way sometimes. But you put on your hat for the day, and you just go and do it,” Hickey said.

    Here are her tips for becoming a leader:

    • Start small. You don’t have to be the committee chair or run the show.

    • Seek out opportunities, then say yes. Saying yes to one thing leads​ to more opportunities.

    • Say yes judiciously and to something you are interested in – in your community or with the State Bar. “It doesn’t have to be in your practice area. Broaden your perspective by engaging in areas outside your practice – that way, you get to see the big picture.”

    • Follow through. Show up for all the meetings and participate. “This is where you make a difference. Speak up: Know that people want to hear your ideas.”

    • Pace yourself. Take breaks. “Plan time off. Plan time with your family, for your hobbies and your interests. It’s going to help you do this career that lasts over the decades. Keep yourself refreshed enough to keep doing this. Some days, the biggest success is just getting up and going to the office.”

    • Make sure you’re having fun. Do something you enjoy – that makes it easier to keep your commitment and follow through. “If it’s not fun, try something else.”

    • Find a mentor, because this is a hard job, and it’s not intuitive. How? Look around where you work and practice – a mentor might be someone you met at a State Bar event or through a State Bar program like Ready.Set.Practice. “Pick up the phone, ask them to lunch. Chances are, they are going to say yes. If they don’t, try someone else.” Also: mentorship doesn’t have to be in your area – but they can help you to deal with difficult discussions or other topics that apply to all areas of practice.

    State Bar President Margaret Hickey spoke on creating a path to leadership

    State Bar President Margaret Hickey spoke on creating a path to leadership.

    There are opportunities available for all types of leadership roles through the State Bar. Getting involved in State Bar committees, sections, divisions, and more not only gives you leadership experience, but helps you build your network “to help your career and help you answer those tough questions,” Hickey said.

    You are also a leader because you have something many people don’t have – a law degree, Hickey said. “With the skills we have, we can contribute and help people. That’s leadership. The fact is, when someone needs help, they call us because we have those skills, and having those skills makes you a leader.”

    2023 Leadership Development Summit Young Lawyer Attendees

    This year’s Leadership Development Summit attendees are:

    Sarah Arbaje, Fredrikson & Byron PA, Madison

    Leakhena Au, Burns Bowen Bair LLP, Madison

    Hannah Lauren Chin, Von Briesen & Roper SC, Milwaukee

    Khalil Lamont Davis, Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee

    Jedidiah Dodge, Portage County District Attorney’s Office, Stevens Point

    Austin Doan, Boardman & Clark LLP, Madison

    Jason Donker, City of Madison, Madison

    Benjamin D. Edelstein, Legal Action of Wisconsin Inc., Milwaukee

    Sarah Ghazi-Moradi, Boardman & Clark LLP, Madison

    Jourdan D. Glenn, Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Milwaukee

    Ashleigh Hacker, Balisle Family Law Legal Counsel SC, Madison

    Jacob L. Hams, Becker, Hickey & Poster SC. Milwaukee


    Samantha Lawrence, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Madison

    Ryan Ralph Lee, Centro Legal, Oconomowoc

    Jordan Miller, Nicolet Law Office SC, Eau Claire

    Jessa L. Moser, Neider & Boucher SC,​ Madison

    Nathan Petrashek, Wisconsin Court of Appeals District II, Waukesha

    Juan Sebastian Ramirez, State Public Defenders Office, Racine

    Beatriz Reiner, Reiner Immigration LLC, Chicago

    Denisha Alliyah Renovales, Von Briesen & Roper SC, Milwaukee

    Holly L. Stenz, Godfrey & Kahn SC, Appleton

    Meghan Villalpando, Husch Blackwell LLP, Milwaukee

    Marisa Zane, Zane Law LLC, Milwaukee

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