The Lawyer as Leader

A leader is a planter—a planter of ideas, seeds of change, and a vision for justice

~ Dr. Artika Tyner



How to Plant People and Grow Justice


Foreword by: Marian Wright Edelman

Founder and President Children’s Defense Fund



Imagine if community members across the world began planting seeds of social change, justice, and freedom. Could you be the one who plants the seeds for the promotion of access to affordable housing, fair sentencing, educational equity, or racial justice? This is your beckoning to lead—will you answer the call?

The Lawyer as Leader: How to Plant People and Grow Justice is an inspiring roadmap designed to help you become an effective agent for social change and transformational leader.

The social justice challenges of our time are enormous.  About one in seven U.S. residents live in poverty and the disparity between the haves and have-nots is wider than at any point since the Great Depression.  The poor are largely marginalized from the public policy process and often are unable to assert their legal rights in regard to basic necessities such as nutrition, health, shelter, income, education, and protection from violent physical abuse.  More broadly, the poor are perpetually victimized by systems which maintain and uphold discrimination, disparate outcomes, and subordination based upon one’s social identity.

Experienced educator and community advocate, Dr. Artika Tyner shows how you can make a difference in the world.  The book is a beacon call for those who wish to join the fight for social and economic justice.  Highlights include:


  • The three pillars of new social justice lawyering: (1) Origins and theories of social justice lawyering, (2) Principles of servant and transformational leadership, and (3) The lawyer as policy entrepreneur and coalition builder.
  • How to build your own leadership platform; how to create communities based on a shared vision of justice; and how to plant seeds to empower future leaders.

The Lawyer as Leader will provide those who are passionate about social justice with the inspiration, ideas, and tools to build and lead coalitions to fight for social and economic justice.

Read a Sample Chapter

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For anyone entering the world of law, this is a crucial read that offers a powerful message about effecting positive social change.

Kirkus Review

Highly recommended.  The author is a wise and experienced change agent.

Thomas E. Holloran

Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, University of St. Thomas School of Law; Former President, Medtronic, Inc.


The Lawyer as Leader: How to Plant People and Grow Justice is a very powerful read – inspiring, empowering, motivating, immediately useful and applicable across business sectors and professions.  This book addresses what leaders today and in the future can employ to develop others as well as develop his/her self.  A must-read for anyone passionate about promoting social change!

Debra A. Lindh, Ed.D.

President and Founder, Mindful Effect, LLC


Dr. Tyner’s special new book is a fresh reminder to all of us in the legal community that ours is one of the healing professions, and that some of our most important professional obligations are to help heal the wounds of social injustice, and to help advance the opportunity for all of our citizens to enjoy ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ fully and fairly.  That requires both commitment and work, and Dr. Tyner’s book — — her “guide” — — helps point the way.  It won’t happen on its own.  As Dr. King reassured us: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  President Obama has rightly reminded us, though, that “the arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.” Each of us, in our own way, given the many ways of serving in our profession, can and should put our hand on that arc and help  bend it toward justice, sooner instead of later.  Dr. Tyner’s book provides both inspirational examples and practical tools for doing just that, and for that we should be thankful as well as newly challenged.

Tom Nelson, Partner

Stinson Leonard Street


Tyner provides not just a crucial vision of lawyers as leaders of social justice causes, but practical pathways for making that vision reality. Read it as a call to action for what the law can do in changing what must change in society.

Jane Kise, Ed.D., author of Intentional Leadership 


Dr. Tyner encapsulates the roles of humanist, activist and gardener, in her quest to invoke awareness, sensitivity and action in individuals, organizations and systems.  Her book is a must read that delivers a provoking outcry to transform (or abolish) the persistent inequities of our society.   It provides a challenging guide for anyone committed to leading the charge in addressing the social injustices of the ostracized, less privileged and the powerless.  Students from cultures around the world will be inspired to advocate for those without a voice or choice for justice.

Cheryl Chatman, Ed. D.

Executive Vice President and Dean of Diversity

Concordia University


Dr. Tyner’s book argues for a vision of “new social justice lawyering.”  The book is grounded in civil rights history and explores many related theories of lawyering and organizing.  At the core is a model of social justice lawyers collaborating with and learning from communities as community leadership capacity grows.  Social change and movement toward justice can only happen with engaged communities, and Dr. Tyner’s vision sees lawyers as part of those communities, not as isolated experts.  I have admired Dr. Tyner’s personal role in this area, and this very helpful book will help spread the model.

Mary Keefe, Executive Director, Hope Community, Minneapolis



The Lawyer as Leader: How to Plant People and Grow Justice shares the personal leadership stories of four nationally recognized change agents, including: Bonnie Allen, who trains public interest lawyers; Edgar Cahn, who created the blueprint for the Legal Services Corp. and founded Timebanks USA; Nekima Levy-Pounds, creator of the Community Justice Project; and john a. powell, founder of the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota.










USA Best Book Award, Finalist- Social Change
New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention- How to











Reader Views Choice Award for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

Reader Views Choice First Place Award- “Societal Issues”




*** Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalist–Social Sciences (Adult Nonfiction)

*** Midwest Book Award Finalist in Current Events/Political Science Section and Social Science Section

*** Finalist in the Wishing Shelf Awards in Adults: Nonfiction

*** International Book Awards, Finalist- Social Change

*** Readers’ Favorite, Book Award Finalist



Dr. Artika R. Tyner is a passionate educator, author, sought after speaker, and advocate for justice. At the University of St. Thomas, Dr. Tyner serves as the Associate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. She is committed to training students to serve as social engineers who create new inroads to justice and freedom.

Dr. Tyner is committed to empowering others to lead within their respective spheres of influence. She is the Founder/CEO of Planting People, Growing Justice Leadership Institute which provides leadership development training and career coaching. She has also developed leadership educational materials for K-12 students, college/graduate students, faith communities and nonprofits. Additionally, Dr. Tyner teaches leadership coursework on ethics, critical reflection, and organizational development. Her research focuses on diversity/inclusion, community development, and civil rights. She has presented her research and conducted leadership training programs both nationally and internationally. She lives in Saint Paul, MN. She enjoys traveling across the world, learning new languages, and gourmet baking.






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Book Review: Readers’ Favorite

Book Review: Washington Bar Association

Book Showcase: Ramsey County Bar Association

Book Review: Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder



This reading group guide for The Lawyer as Leader: How to Plant People and Grow Justice includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Dr. Artika R. Tyner.


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