Monday, March 5, 2018

Jerry Organ on Mike Madison and Professional Identity

The PrawfsBlawg is having a symposium on Mike Madison's For a New Year: An Invitation Regarding Law, Legal Education, and Imagining the Future.  Jerry Organ's contribution on Professor Madison's professional identity comments are especially apt.

"But clients frequently need to know more than what the law allows or prohibits. They frequently need to understand which of a range of allowable options makes the most sense given the clients specific interests and concerns.

For lawyers to have distinctive value in an artificial intelligence world, it will no longer be sufficient for law schools to produce graduates adept at “thinking like a lawyer.” This will be necessary, but not sufficient. Legal education will increasingly have to help produce graduates who are capable at “being a lawyer” – providing great client service in the interstitial spaces where they help clients explore among a range of legal options."

"Lawyers are no longer going to be adding value by helping clients answer whether they “can” do something – whether the law allows them to do something. . . .  Where lawyers are adding value and increasingly will be adding value is by helping clients work through the “should” questions. Among a range of possible options, which “should” the client select given the client’s legal and non-legal interests and concerns. “Being a lawyer” involves these type of “wise counsel” situations that require one to “think like a lawyer,” but even more so require relationship skills – active listening, empathy, responsiveness, effective framing and exploration of alternatives. These are the skills of “being a lawyer” – of building relationships of trust with clients in which they feel heard and believe their lawyers understand their interests and concerns and are helping them effectively and efficiently make decisions that will best serve their interests and concerns."

As I have declared here many times, law schools need to make professional identity development a central part of their curriculum.  This requires a new approach to legal education, including helping students develop metacognitive skills, reflection, self-monitoring, and practical reasoning.  These are skills needed to become a self-directed learner.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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