Saturday, March 15, 2014

"The Developmental Path Of The Lawyer"

A new article by Professor Michael Cedrone (Georgetown) that readers of this blog may be interested in.  It's available at 41 Cap. U. L. Rev. 779 (2013).  From the introduction:

Important recent examinations of the law school curriculum have called attention to shortcomings in educating about the lawyer's professional role.  In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation issued the seminal report Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law. As is now widely known, Carnegie posits three facets of legal education: a cognitive apprenticeship, which teaches the knowledge or “way of thinking” in law; an apprenticeship of practical skill, which requires students to use and apply knowledge in the context of simulated or actual practice; and an ethical apprenticeship, which considers the ethical principles and public roles and responsibilities of lawyers. The report views this trinity of apprenticeships as the essential elements of a legal education.


The Carnegie Report persuasively demonstrates that law schools are very good at teaching legal doctrine and analysis.  Carnegie recognizes deficiencies in law schools' attempts to teach legal skills in practical contexts but acknowledges that progress has been made in this area, largely through the rise of writing programs and clinical legal education.  In Carnegie's estimation, education for each student's journey of professional identity is the most seriously shortchanged.


Research beyond Carnegie is necessary to appreciate the developmental complexity of law students' paths into professional life. Achieving a mature professionalism requires that students reshape their fundamental ways of thinking and making meaning about the world.  A career in law requires wrestling with the ethical demands of the profession and with conflicts between personal values, the values of clients, and values of the legal system. Law students must recognize the multiple pressures on lawyers as agents in the legal system. These challenges are developmental. Entering the legal profession requires individuals to develop new ways of understanding the world.


. . . .


This Article proceeds in four parts. Part II lays out the experience of a group of 1L students responding to a problem-based exercise in a torts casebook. Although the casebook problem presents a complex and rich fact pattern, it shortchanges important questions about the lawyer's relationship with her clients and the law, and thereby misses opportunities for essential professional and personal development. Part III examines the Carnegie Report and contemporary trends in legal education, noting shortfalls that result from the lack of a developmental perspective. Part IV.A examines social constructivism, a theory which posits that learning the law is a process of socialization and concludes that the social view does not leave adequate room for individuals' developmental capacities. Part IV.B then sets out cognitive-developmental stages of adult development in some detail with the goal of understanding the developmental demands imposed by the professional life. Part V advocates a more developmentally-appropriate law curriculum and suggests what some prominent features of that curriculum might be. The central goal of these suggestions is to educate law students to author their own experiences and to better understand lawyers' roles within and apart from the legal system. This developmental view of legal education aspires to form lawyers who are more fulfilled and satisfied in their life's work, ultimately empowered to pursue their deepest goals.


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Thank you so much for this mention of my article. I am happy to discuss these issues with anyone interested.

Posted by: Michael Cedrone | Mar 18, 2014 8:18:56 PM

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