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Learning Through Leadership Talk 2024

09 Jul 2024   /   Nhung Phung

Leadership in a Judicial setting with Sir James Dingemans (Class of 1980)

In this blog post, Geoffrey Pelham-Lane, our Fellow (Class of 1978), shares his thoughts on our recent Learning Through Leadership talk, “Leadership in a Judicial Setting,” featuring Sir James Dingemans (Class of 1980). The event took place on 17th April 2024 at The Rank Foundation’s offices in Shoreditch, London.

Sir James Dingemans

If there is someone who has most successfully realised the leadership potential that the Rank Foundation looks for in each of its School Leadership Award holders it is the Court of Appeal judge, Lord Justice Dingemans.

The person from Rank who first recommended him for an award in 1980 demonstrated remarkable foresight. Sir James’ talk on Wednesday evening did everything to confirm this as well as highlighting the value that the Rank Foundation has added and continues to add through its great work in bringing out the very best in people and society.

His talk on “Leadership in a Judicial setting” was hugely engaging not just to our next generation of fellows pursuing or about to pursue a legal career but also to all of us who benefit either directly or indirectly from the UK having one of the most envied and fair legal systems in the world. This achievement has clearly been no accident, having been built and sustained by the professionalism, impartiality and, most importantly, leadership of our lawyers.

Sir James described how he had developed professionally since receiving Rank support in his last year at Radley, learning about leadership when he trained at Sandhurst on a short service commission and then about the law when he studied at Oxford University. What was striking about his talk was not just how he applied these skills successfully to lead and motivate over 800 judges, but just how applicable these skills are to leadership elsewhere.

He referred to ‘Transactional’ leaders that work within the establishment and ‘Transformational’ leaders that typically inspire us with a charismatic vision. He discussed other styles such as ‘Situational’ leadership where a true leader adapts to the specific demands of a situation. This, he felt, was most applicable to leadership in the judiciary.

He provided examples of why it is important as a leader to identify your goal but keep it simple, show that you are capable of doing the job of those that you are leading (it is a requirement that judges have to be practitioners unlike managers in the NHS), make sure you do the right thing (don’t simply lead to satisfy media coverage), ensure you stay calm, respect boundaries (such as the law), learn to handle pressure and recognise your team (‘walk the floor’ and say ‘thank you’).

He also mentioned how important diversity is to achieving the best results and how, while the judiciary has made some improvements, this will take time as judges can only come from practitioners entering the law at the beginning of their legal careers.

All in all, a great talk and one where everyone, not just budding lawyers, learnt something. Thank you, Sir James!

About the author:

Geoffrey Pelham-Lane, Fellow (Class of 1978), is one of the UK’s leading financial communications experts, with more than 35 years of experience in financial PR and investor relations. He is Chairman of APCO UK and Chief Executive Officer at Capital Market Communications Ltd (Camarco), an APCO Worldwide Company.

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