This Leadership in Law Winter School focuses on (future) lawyers’ skill development and diversity in legal industry. The participants will make an evidence-based journey through several topics that are relevant for today and tomorrow’s new leaders in law. The courses  focus on leaders’ development with regard to self-awareness (leadership styles, growth mindset, personality), soft skills (communication and inclusion skills), and decision-making skills (creativity, fairness, cognitive biases). In addition, participants will have  the opportunity to meet with expert leaders in the field. At the end of the journey, participants will have a personal leadership plan, a vision for the future, as well as a theoretical background ánd practical experience with the foundational skills to make this personal vision come true. 

Learning outcomes

  1. Increase knowledge about the concept of leadership and leadership styles in the legal context.
  2. Increase knowledge about inclusive leadership, diversity in legal practice, and fairness.
  3. Increase (self-)knowlegde about cognitive biases, personality traits, creativity, and personal values.
  4. Reflect about influence of cognitive biases, personality traits, creativity, and pesonal values on communication, collaboration, legal problem-solving and working in the legal context.
  5. Reflect about the role and societal impact of leaders in the legal context.

Day-by-day programme

In preparation for the winter school, students will receive a list of literature to read (required/optional reading).

Required reading: Rhode, D.L. (2017). Leadership in Law. Stanford Law Review, 69, 1603-1666.

DAY 1: 6 February 2023 – Introduction to leadership
Part 1 (9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.)
Welcome: Leadership in law, leadership styles and growth-mindset
Teachers: Prof. dr. Anne Van de Vijver (University of Antwerp, Law Faculty) & Dr. Anouk Decuypere (University of Antwerp, Law Faculty)

In this introductory session, we explore who is an exemplary leader to you, and how these leaders fit into academic leadership research. We dive into effective leadership behaviors and highlight the importance of a growth mindset for our week together. By the end of the session, you will have a clear view of different idealized leadership styles, as well as what behaviors are associated with them. This will be the basic building block from which we will start your leadership journey in the context of law.

Part 2 (1.00 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.)
Meet and greet with leaders of legal industry
Leadership stories of Argo Law, ECGB Advocaten, Ernst & Young, Linklaters & Tiberghien

Part 3 (3.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.)
Keynote speech and welcome drink
Inspirational keynote “Leadership in Law” by Minister of the Interior, Institutional Reform and Democratic Renewal, Annelies Verlinden

DAY 2: 7 February 2023 – Leadership, decision-making & communication
Part 1 (9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.)
Leadership and personality traits
Teacher: Prof. dr. Bart Wille (Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences)

Our personality influences who we are, what we do, how we think, and what we feel. The impact of these traits is also evident in our professional lives and, in particular, in the way we view leadership roles and how we try to embody them. This session will first focus on some of the basics of personality psychology. Then, using recent scientific research, the link between personality and phenomena such as leadership effectiveness, charisma, and derailed leadership (or "derailment") will be made. You will leave this session with knowledge of the latest research regarding leadership & personality, as well as with a deeper understanding of your own personality.

Part 2 (1.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.)
Personality traits in law practice
Teacher: Cindy Rowe (Tiberghien Lawyers, Hannaway Coaching) & Dr. Anouk Decuypere (University of Antwerp, Law Faculty)

In our increasingly diverse and digital world, communication skills are more important than ever. In this workshop, we will focus on how to collaborate and lead while taking into account, and even honoring, personal differences. In addition, we will dive into how to view these skills in the context of a law practice.

DAY 3: 8 February 2023 – Creativity, purpose & transformational leadership
Part 1 (9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.)
Leadership, decision-making and cognitive biases
Teacher: Dr. Shari De Baets (Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration)

As the future representation of the law, you hold great responsibility when you make decisions. Are you the rational decision maker you think you are? Let’s discover it together! We will put the work in workshop by using exercises, case examples, and discussions, to explore your personal strengths and pitfalls in the world of legal decision-making.

Part 2 (1.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.)
Dabrowski’s positive disintegration theory and transformational leadership
Teacher: Lotte van Lith (VUB, A Lot of Complexity)

At the core, law is derived from values. Some values are part of culturally specific traditions, others seem to transcend these boundaries. In any case, human values lie at the heart of every individual. What emotional development is crucial for an authentic understanding of one’s values? With Ruth Ginsburg as an inspirational exemplar, and the theory of positive disintegration as a framework, we explore the psychological growth dynamics of a personal value system in an embodied and reflective way.

DAY 4: 9 February 2023 – Inclusive leadership & diversity in legal practice
Part 1 (9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.)
Inclusive leadership & diversity
Teachers: Younes Sebbarh (Baker & McKenzie, Road to Glory) & Gilles Leyssen (DLA Piper, Road to Glory), accompanied by Camille Degrave & Chinouk Van Baelen

As a law student or young professional, there is no doubt that you are full of ambition. Having big dreams is one thing, but actually fulfilling them is something completely different: “Dream big but take small steps.” During this session, we will focus on your personal goals and discuss how you can be in the driver’s seat of your own success.

Part 2 (1.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.)
Legal creativity
Teacher: Prof. dr. Anne Van de Vijver (University of Antwerp, Law Faculty)

“Lawyers are (or should) not (be) creative!” Do you disagree with this statement and would you like to develop your professional creativity? In this workshop, you will dive into the world of legal creativity, discover your out-of-the-box thinking skills through practical examples and exercises, and explore how to activate your creativity.

DAY 5: 10 February 2023 – Leadership, fairness & personal journey
Part 1 (9.00 a.m. - 12.00 p.m.)
Leadership and fairness
Teachers: Dr. Jeroen Camps (KULeuven, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences)

The expectations we hold towards leaders seem to be higher than ever. They need to optimize their organization's performance, safeguard their employees' well-being and preferably also promote innovation, all while adhering to high ethical standards. In this workshop, we will focus on how you can achieve these things, by turning to one of the foundational leadership skills, namely, fair decision-making. We will discuss how you can ensure that your decisions are fair and supported by your employees. During this workshop, you will gain knowledge about fairness, learn about your own ideological preferences and develop skills to enhance your decision-making.  

Part 2 (1.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.)
Exam: Essay with title “My personal leadership journey”
Teachers: Prof. dr. Anne Van de Vijver & Dr. Anouk Decuypere
In order to capture your personal learnings throughout this summer school, you are invited to write an essay on your personal leadership journey. Through some thought-provoking questions, we will guide you to develop a clear and actionable vision for yourself as a future leader in law.

Part 3 (4.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.)
Closing ceremony

Target group

  • Master students in law
  • Legal professionals (lawyers, consultants, …) with a max. 3 years of working experience
  • Good command of English is required.
  • General knowledge of the use of a PC and the Internet is also needed.

Selection criteria

During the selection process, we pay close attention to:

  • Participant's motivation to develop an understanding of leadership, cooperation, personality, values, creativity, with a focus on diversity in the legal world;
  • Diversity in group composition (gender, Belgian/international participants, students/professionals);
  • Amount of participants: maximum 25. 

Teaching staff

Study credits (ECTS)

3 ECTS credits will be awarded upon successful completion of the programme. All certificates of completion are issued as a micro-credential.

​Successful completion of the summer school can be awarded with 3 credits according the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). A certificate will be awarded at the end of the programme. 

  • The assessments consist of an essay without oral presentation (open book)

  • Assessment criteria for the essay on the student's personal leadership journey:
    The essay should include:
    an introduction to the student's life and a sense of their personality,
    - a section on how the student hopes in ideal conditions to develop into a leader and contribute to society as a leader, as well as how this relates to the student's personal values,
    - a section on obstacles (at least 3) the student expects to enounter and strategies to overcome them,
    - a conclusion

Social programme

Participants will be able to get in touch with peers attending other summer/winter schools at Antwerp Summer and Winter University. A visit to the beautiful city hall, a networking reception, a guided city walk, a quiz night, a football game and a day-trip to another Belgian city such as Bruges or Brussels are only some examples of these activities. All activities of the social programme are offered free of charge, in some cases participants will be asked for a deposit which will be reimbursed upon participation to the activity.

Specific social activities in the days around and during the winter school Leadership in Law will be announced close to the start of the programme.