Tuesday, February 15, 2022
As mentioned below, the ABA made significant changes to the standards for legal education at their mid-year meeting. Among these changes is a new requirement to include professional identity training in the curriculum:
303 b) A law school shall provide substantial opportunities to students for:. . .
(3) the development of a professional identity.
Professional identity focuses on what it means to be a lawyer and the special obligations lawyers have to
their clients and society. The development of professional identity should involve an intentional
exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to
successful legal practice. Because developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over
time, students should have frequent opportunities for such development during each year of law school
and in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.
Law schools need to plan how to implement this new requirement. I have written a text for students on how to develop their professional identities.
Professors can adopt this book as a text, or students can use it on their own. It is chock full of exercises for developing professional identity.
Abstract: "Who will I be as a lawyer? This is the most important question any law student can ask. Yet, in traditional legal education, this question rarely comes up. The purpose of this book is to change this. Professional identity is a lawyer’s personal legal morality, values, decision-making process, and self-consciousness in relation to the practices of the legal profession (legal culture). It provides the framework that a lawyer uses to make all a lawyer’s decisions. This book takes a variety of approaches to help you develop your professional identity.
Chapter One asks you to take a close look at yourself by asking questions about your childhood, your college years, and who you are today. It is important to know who you are before you can fit into a profession. Chapters Two (Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner), Six (Overcoming Cognitive Biases), Seven (Behavioral Legal Ethics), and Eight (Attorney Well-Being) give you the tools you will need to develop your professional identity. Chapter Two introduces you to “practical wisdom,” an important approach to understanding and solving ethical problems. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 deal with professional identity within certain topics–the attorney-client relationship, the lawyer and society, and attorney advertising and solicitation of clients. Chapter Nine presents the legal profession’s and society’s views on lawyers and the legal profession. Chapter Ten focuses on your role as a lawyer. It asks you what area of law you want to practice, how you will deal with clients, your place in the legal profession, standards of civility in the legal profession, and working with subordinates. Finally, Chapter Eleven contains a variety of extended problems to help you further develop your professional identity. The revised edition adds a chapter on behavioral legal ethics, focusing on ethical blindness."