Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do you make the connection between ASP and professionalism explicit?

I am curious about the integration of professional skills into ASP courses. I started focusing on professional skills for my undergraduates when I realized that few students understood what it meant to work in a professional environment, and that they would struggle in internships and volunteer activities. I have been intergrating professional skills into my undergraduate classes for three years now, and overall, I am impressed by the change in my students. I no longer worry about students who come into class late, play with their cell phones, or blow off appointments--these things are rare occurrences.

However, I do not integrate the same professional skills training into my ASP course. I have been very lax about students who blow off appointments or come to class late. In law students, I assume their must be a good reason for the behavior, or that the behavior is somehow justified by external problems. But I am beginning to question my assumptions. If these students where never taught how to be professionals when they were undergrads, and we don't explicitly teach these skills in law school, how would they know that these are things they should be thinking about? 

Another assumption I am beginning to question is whether students "absorb" professional skills by being in law school. I think the predominate wisdom in many places is that students will pick up on professional skills by watching their professors, listening to some lectures by Career Services, and by just being smart kids. I don't think that this is enough, especially for students who need academic support. If a student is suffering from an anxiety disorder that prevents them from demonstrating their knowledge on an exam, chances are that the same anxiety will come up in professional situations. If a student can make it to class or appointments on time because they are disorganized and overwhelmed, chances are they will have the same issues with clients.

I am curious if any ASP's explicitly integrate professional skills into their curriculum. Does anyone know of schools that embed professional skills in all doctrinal and skills courses?



Thank you, Mary Ann Robinson. Here is a link to videos on professionalism for law students.

"The videos and related teaching materials are available at

These two have a specific tie-in to ASP:

Self-Direction (& Law School Study Skills)

Go for burritos with friends or go to study group? Poor choices in law school and on the job illustrate how critical it is to become self-directed learners, who take responsibility for mastering law school material and, later, the client’s file. Teaching materials include discussion questions and handouts from academic success professionals on effective law school study skills.


Learn from Kate, who struggles with being adequately prepared for a conference with her law school professor – and again years later at an important workplace meeting"

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