Ben W. Heineman, Jr.: "A responsibility to lead"

January 7, 2008Duke Law News

Jan. 11, 2008 ― Lawyers should aspire “not just to be wise counselors but wise leaders,” according to Benjamin Heineman Jr., senior counsel with Wilmer Hale and former senior vice president and general counsel for GE. A leading advocate for rethinking legal education to prepare lawyers for civic and professional leadership, Heineman argued in a 2007 essay in the Yale Law Journal titled “Law and Leadership,” that the profession and law schools need to more directly “prepare and inspire” young lawyers in this regard. “Ultimately, we need lawyers who have a great leader’s ability to define problems comprehensively and comprehensibly; to integrate different perspectives into solutions, and to forge agreement on a solution and then implement it in a way that makes a difference,” he wrote.

Heineman will share his vision for developing lawyers as leaders and for reforming legal education to help that process along when he speaks at Duke Law School on Jan. 16. His talk, “A responsibility to lead: How lawyers can fill our leadership deficit,” will begin at 12:10 p.m. in room 3041. It is sponsored by the Law School’s Leadership Working Group and the Office of the Dean. A light lunch will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.

A graduate of Harvard College, Yale Law School, and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, Heineman is a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a distinguished senior fellow in Harvard Law School’s Program on the Legal Profession, and a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His research focus includes globalization, anticorruption, corporate citizenship, dispute resolution, and the legal profession, and he is the author of books on British race relations and the American presidency. Heineman serves on the boards of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Transparency International-US, and the National Constitution Center. He was assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare during the Carter Administration, and also practiced with the Center for Law and Social Policy, a Washington D.C. based public interest law firm.

The Law School’s Leadership Working Group is a task force of faculty, student, staff, and alumni established by Dean David F. Levi to look at how leadership development can best be addressed at Duke for its students and the broader alumni community. It is co-chaired by James Cox, Brainerd Currie Professor of Law, and Peter Kahn ’76, the former chair of the Law School’s Board of Visitors and a partner at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Heineman’s talk will be webcast live beginning at 12:05 p.m.

For more information, contact Frances Presma at or (919) 613-7248.

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