Saturday, May 19, 2018
"According to William Sullivan, lead author of the Carnegie Report, we are building a professional identity “social movement.” Evidence of this movement would include the symposium for which I have prepared these remarks—a gathering of faculty, staff, administrators, and students from a wide number of U.S. law schools committed to teaching toward and assessing students’ professional identity formation—and the larger body of work it represents. The University of St. Thomas School of Law and its Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership, host and sponsor of this gathering, is emblematic of this movement. Further evidence includes work produced and supported through the Association of American Law Schools, the membership organization for the legal academy in the U.S. Other key groups, such as the American Bar Association, are also spearheading initiatives that share a similar set of objectives around reshaping the culture of the legal profession toward a greater emphasis on well-being. These groups are focusing on a broader set of values—beyond those enunciated in our professional rules—including empathy, compassion, mutual connection, cross-cultural awareness and engagement, and social justice.
In this essay, I reflect on the past twenty-five years and set out a number of core principles and practices gleaned from this movement thus far. My main message is twofold: first, as legal educators, all of us can participate in this professional identity social movement if we are willing to approach our work as a humanistic enterprise and become more intentional about our teaching; and second, we can begin by adopting and modeling effective communication principles and practices to support law students’ professional identity formation inside and outside of our classrooms."