March 20, 2005
Reflections: Cultivating Ethics, Professionalism and Commitment
Entitled, Reflections on Teaching Law as Right Livelihood: Cultivating Ethics, Professionalism, and Commitment to Public Serivce from the Inside Out, this article by University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law Professor and Director of the Mason Enhancement Program for Academic Success, Laurie A. Morin, appeared in the Winter 2000 edition of the Tulsa Law Journal. (35 Tulsa L.J. 227 - no web link currently available)
"This is a story," Professor Laurie Morin begins, "of inner transformation that led me to question the very foundation of what it means to 'teach' and to 'learn.' My quest," she continues, "grew out of a period of struggle in which I doubted both" her teaching capability and the value of teaching money-oriented, grade-centered law students. In her search for answers, she visited "the vast playing grounds of philosophy, theology, and education." Not only does Professor Morin provide the reader with a snapshot travelogue of her journey, but she offers solid advice for enhancing the educational experiences of our students. Each suggestion targets "vocational integration," and relates to the profound questions lawyers (and law students) should be asking, for example: "How can I use my profession to make a meaningful contribution to my community and to the world around me?"
Professor Morin's article describes teaching techniques aimed at integrating notions of fairness, justice, public service, and dignity for others within a legal curriculum. She provides examples of techniques for creating moral dialogues, reconnecting students with their personal goals through discussion, fostering a sense of public service, and cultivating civility and respect for diversity.
Professor Morin argues that the gap between the increasing number of lawyers and the unmet legal needs of the poor and middle class can be directly addressed by encouraging a new generation of lawyers to “do well by doing good,” and to fulfill the highest ideals of the profession.
"I have come to the conclusion," Professor Morin writes, "that the opportunity for meaningful reflection on personal and professional values should not be separated from the learning of legal doctrine, analytical skills, and professional ethics."
Several appendices include exercises - described within the text of the article - for providing these opportunities within the context of legal education.
I suggest that we, as Academic Support professionals, infuse these values and ideals in our interaction with students - complementing the efforts of "enlightened" professors like Professor Morin. (djt)
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