By Traci Mundy Jenkins
The holiday season is here, and we are fully immersed in all that December represents. It’s a wonderful time to reﬂect with gratitude on the many personal moments and professional achievements of the past year for which we are thankful.
As recently announced, Jim Leipold, NALP’s Executive Director for almost 18 years, will retire from the association next fall. So many emotions result from his pending departure. We will miss Jim, his leadership, and his careful stewardship of our beloved association. There is no doubt that NALP has grown and thrived during Jim’s tenure, both in how we are viewed and respected by external audiences and how members continue to ﬂourish with NALP’s support.
NALP has developed its brand as a reliable, go-to source for data that brings to life developments in the legal profession by focusing on the recruiting, hiring, and retention processes affecting law students and lawyers. It holds the legal ﬁeld accountable to determine if there’s progress, particularly with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Jim’s role in effectively communicating the information we collect and analyze is relied upon by many within and outside the legal ﬁeld. We continue to explore how we can optimize NALP’s voice for maximum positive impact on the direction of our industry.
Our members have realized many beneﬁts under Jim’s management, including access to a dedicated and helpful staff, a vast compilation of resources, and programs that empower us with knowledge to implement our initiatives. They all result in more support for our law students, lawyers, and ourselves. We can’t forget the invaluable NALP Weekly Industry News Digest on which we heavily rely to keep abreast of the most pressing matters impacting our work.
For those who have served NALP as Ofﬁcers, Board Directors, and in many other volunteer leadership roles, we know ﬁrsthand that Jim’s knowledge and support have helped us fulﬁll the expectations that our colleagues bestowed on us. This is all so very important as we reﬂect on the almost two decades that Jim has been at the front of this sizeable operation. Jim indeed deserves to live his dream of building a new life in Santa Fe (as long as we can visit!).
As we turn the page on a new chapter of NALP’s great history, we will embrace this positive change and think about NALP’s future in light of our core values of integrity, expertise, inclusivity, community, and adaptability. Due to Jim’s generous notice, we can afford to be introspective and intentional about NALP’s next steps. Rest assured that the Board of Directors is fully engaged and ready to undertake its crucial ﬁduciary responsibility of identifying a new Executive Director. The Transition Task Force will assist the Board in executing that responsibility, and we look forward to hearing from you about this transition during next month's member Town Halls on January 11 and 12, 2022. Learn more and register for one of these events at www.nalp.org/events.
The structured transition process will include the additional layer of an external search consultant specializing in nonproﬁt leadership and selected through a competitive process. The search will culminate in ﬁnding a voice that matches NALP’s vision for the future. This rare undertaking, at least for NALP, is truly an exciting opportunity. I hope you are looking forward to this journey and will take the time to determine how this could also be a moment for your own self-reﬂection and priority setting. It’s a good pause for all of us.
We are all too familiar with unexpected challenges, change, and resilience given everything we have endured since March 2020. However, we know that we are equipped to handle what comes our way — and even shine — by deftly responding to adversity or unanticipated situations. By now, it’s not too surprising when things happen.
Gratitude is one of the tools we use to manage adjustments. Especially during this holiday season, we are reminded about the importance of ﬂexibility and steadfast resolve to deal with situations head on. New ideas and approaches result when we have a positive outlook.
NALP is staring at a tremendous opportunity. We are grateful for the solid foundation on which we stand to evaluate our successes and those we have yet to achieve. We are grateful that we have thoughtful and talented volunteer leaders to guide our transition. We are grateful for what NALP is and what it can be. We are grateful for a new day!
Traci Mundy Jenkins is Director of Career Development at Venable LLP and President of NALP.