Winter 2018 Issue

Leading By Example

McGlothlin Leadership Forum introduces students to leaders in law and business

By David F. Morrill M.A. '87

Second year law student Nick Thompson doesn’t mince words when asked about William & Mary’s annual McGlothlin Leadership Forum.

“Hands down, the McGlothlin Leadership Forum is among the best three days of the school year,” Thompson says.

Since its inception in 2010, the forum has given law and business students the opportunity to engage with three top leaders in law and business during seminar-style classes and other events at both William & Mary Law School and the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. For their generosity and steadfast commitment to William & Mary, the Forum is named in recognition of Frances G. ’66 and James W. McGlothlin ’62, J.D. ’64, LL.D. ’00.

This year’s McGlothlin Fellows came to campus on Oct. 24-26 to engage with students and faculty in discussion, debate and analysis on the most pressing issues of the day.

Deborah Baum Esq. is a partner at Pillsbury Law. A leader of Pillsbury’s national litigation practice, Baum has secured an impressive 7-0 success rate in recent cases tried to conclusion. She has been achieving winning results for more than 30 years, and her broad practice includes complex corporate, commercial, real estate, fiduciary and health care disputes, and international arbitrations.

Brad Martin is the chairman of Chesapeake Energy, RBM Ventures and the retired CEO of Saks Inc. Martin served as CEO of Saks for nearly 20 years, during which the company grew from a 10- store base in East Tennessee to become a Fortune 500 enterprise. He also co-founded Corporate Child Care, Inc., which became the largest corporate affiliated child-care company in the United States. Martin served five terms as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

James Sowell is the founder of Sowell & Co. Now in its fifth decade, Sowell & Co. is a privately held investment company and is one of the largest land developers in Texas. The company focuses on private equity, oil and gas, and real estate. Sowell was president of Boy Scouts of America–Circle Ten Council and has served on numerous New York Stock Exchange companies’ boards of directors.
Martin gave the keynote address, sharing with students the attributes he believes are critical to being a successful leader. He said the best leaders are purpose driven, values and principles based, inquisitive with a growth mindset and collaborative. They also communicate simply and directly, accept accountability and believe everyone matters.

Throughout the three-day event, the visiting fellows shared their leadership experiences and answered student questions.

Law student Elizabeth Lester-Abdalla J.D. ’19 appreciated insight on how failures turned into opportunities, initiative turned into confidence and being the smartest or hardest working in the room turned into lifelong success.

“I took to heart Deborah Baum’s contributions about her role and approach to law firm management and how the new classes of graduating lawyers can help to contribute to the workplace through their leadership and relationship skills,” Lester-Abdalla says. “I am indebted to the McGlothlins for bringing this experience to William & Mary and helping us to go out in the world as citizen lawyers.

Another student, Afton Paris J.D. ’19, was impressed with the discussion session with Jim Sowell, especially when learning how lawyers can make their practice more business savvy.

“Mr. Sowell shared with us that the best lawyers he knows are the deal-makers — those who appreciate the value of compromise and who communicate clearly and consistently,” Paris says. “As the students of William & Mary transition from law students to lawyers, I hope that many members of the student body are able to apply these principles and become deal-makers in our own right.”

Mathew Neufeld J.D. ’18 enjoyed learning how the fellows rose to prominence in their respective fields to become successful business leaders on a national scale.

“The fellows’ valuable insight about their journeys was not only educational, but encouraging that if we continue to work to be the best versions of ourselves, we can also thrive in our careers,” Neufeld says.