Monday, November 18, 2013

Mercer Law First Year Course on Professionalism

We have discussed several times on this blog the need for more training in professionalism and professional identity, especially in the first year.  Mercer Law has had a first year course in professionalism since 2004.  (here)

Mercer describes the course: "This course, named 'The Legal Profession,' is not a course in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Mercer’s upper-level Law of Lawyering course covers that material. Rather, the first year course addresses broader themes about life in the legal profession."

The course covers all three of the Carnegie apprenticeships:

1.  "Knowledge: The students learn what professionalism means for lawyers and why it matters whether or not lawyers fulfill these expectations. The students also learn how, in the current environments in which lawyers work, these values of professionalism are challenged. This part of the course seeks to develop the students’ sensitivity to professionalism issues."

2.  "Values: The course seeks to have the students emerge with at least the beginning of a commitment to living up to the values of the profession.  Another way of putting this is that the course aspires for the students to begin to form a professional identity, or set of dispositions, that will lead them to try to act in accordance with professionalism as the course defines it."

3.  "Skill: Professionalism issues do not arise for lawyers in the abstract, and difficult situations often involve conflicting values. The students need to begin to develop the skills of reflection, self-awareness, reasoning and judgment that will serve them well when they must make and implement difficult decisions under conditions of conflict among multiple goals and irreducible uncertainty. It is little use for students to know what professionalism means but be unable to make or implement a decision that implicates one or more of the values of professionalism."

The Mercer Law website also discusses how the course is taught, and it includes exercises used in the course.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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