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Darby Dickerson


The John Marshall Law School


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Lesson 17


“Because making decisions is a part of life and leadership, a decision-making doctrine is indispensable. Below are principles from my own doctrine, which has been developed over decades of making decisions, evaluating the results, and learning from others.


Choose the right lens or perspective. As a law school dean, my touchstone is to make decisions that advance my school’s best interest. Stated differently, I shouldn’t advance my own interests, or the interests of any person or group, over the school’s overall interest.

Even when your choices range from “bad” to “worse,” a strong decision-making process can help you reach the best result. Identify the specific problem or question that needs to be resolved. Failing to refine the issue can result in a decision that doesn’t address the real problem.

Establish and rank criteria. Criteria might include legal and regulatory compliance, financial costs, return on investment, ability to implement, timing, employee morale, and reputational impact. Decide how you will use criteria to evaluate alternatives and define ‘success.’”

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“My hope is that this book will empower women lawyers to bring their whole selves to their work, to their loved ones, and to their lives.” from the Introduction, by Nora Riva Bergman

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