CSU|LAW P. Kelly Tompkins Leadership and Law Program

The P. Kelly Tompkins Leadership and Law Program was created in 2018 by Dean Lee Fisher and Kelly Tompkins ’81 through a generous donation by Kelly Tompkins.

Kelly Tompkins is a CSU College of Law Leader-in-Residence and Chair of the CSU|LAW Board of Visitors. He is also Senior Advisor at Dix & Eaton. He is a past recipient of the Cleveland State University George B. Davis Service Award and Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year and delivered the commencement address for the 2005 graduating class of CSU College of Law. His impressive legal and corporate career has included Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Cleveland Cliffs, and Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, RPM International. During his career at both Cleveland Cliffs and RPM, Kelly served as Chief Legal Officer. Kelly also served as President of the Cleveland Bar Association in 2005-2006.

The Leadership and Law Program seeks to educate students not only to be great lawyers but also to be great leaders.

Lawyers typically have little training in leadership. The law can be described as the rules and forces that operate on leaders, and so we teach the rules in which leaders operate, but most law schools don’t teach what it takes to be an effective leader. It is ironic that so many of our country’s great leaders, whether in the government, business, law or the non-profit sector, are law school graduates yet precious few had any course work dedicated to leadership. At CSU|LAW, we teach leadership skills that can be applied in any career path.

We prepare our students to make a difference in the world as citizens and leaders in a fast-changing environment.

Leaders of the future need to have the skills to lead, counsel, and manage in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. We provide training and practice in leadership strategies and skills that better prepare students to effectively manage the people and organizations they will lead.


The components of the Leadership and Law Program are:

  • The CSU|LAW Hall of Fame and annual Leader on the Rise Award (an annual award given to a recent graduate within the past 10 years who has displayed extraordinary leadership. The Award is given at the annual Hall of Fame Celebration.)
  • Leadership and Law Certificate. Students may earn a Leadership Certificate that prepares them to lead, counsel, and manage in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and to use law as a vehicle for social, organizational, and business change. The Certificate requires a minimum of 15 credits total, including three foundational courses. 

  • CSU|LAW Dean's Leadership Fellows ProgramA limited number of first year law students are ​chosen for the Dean's Leadership Fellows Program through the law school admission process. Selection into the Dean’s Leadership Fellows Program is competitive and based on outstanding academic achievement, leadership qualities and potential, a commitment to active participation in the Program, and a commitment to our values of Learn Law. Live Justice. Those 1L students selected to join the one-year program are known as Dean's Leadership Fellows. Dean’s Leadership Fellows have the opportunity to interact with prominent community leaders to explore issues in leadership and the law and to receive leadership training through special programming planned at the law school. 
  • Law 768 - Leadership and the Law: The Habits of Highly Effective Lawyer-Leaders, a leadership course for upper level students taught by Dean Lee Fisher, former Ohio Attorney General and Lt. Governor. Topics covered include characteristics and styles of leadership, strategic planning, managing growth and change, public speaking, motivating people and teams, decision making, conflict management, entrepreneurship, innovation, diversity, ethical responsibilities, and collaboration.
  • CSU|LAW Leader-in-Residence Program We bring distinguished leaders to the law school to mentor, coach, and advise students on their prospective career choices and work on specific projects related to the law school’s strategic priorities. Leaders-in Residence maintain uniquely deep, long-term relationships with the law school. Our Leaders-in-Residence include not only Kelly Tompkins but also a former judge, former corporate CEO, and the General Counsel of the Ohio ACLU.
  • Visiting Leader Lecture Series and Leader Conversations. National, state, and local leaders meet with students regularly for lectures and informal conversations about leadership lessons learned during their distinguished careers.
  • Leadership Development Continuing Education – we are exploring the development a series of professional development courses and seminars directed to the legal and general community.
  • National Leadership and Law Conference – we are exploring hosting a national conference focused on leadership training for law students and lawyers to be held at CSU College of Law.
  • American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Leadership Section. Dean Lee Fisher is an inaugural member of this AALS Section, created in 2017. He serves as co-editor of the new AALS Leadership Section newsletter.
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