Thursday, January 12, 2017
Elizabeth Adamo Usman (Belmont), Nurturing the Law Student’s Soul: Why Law Schools Are Still Struggling to Teach Professionalism and How to Do Better in an Age of Consumerism, 99 Marq. L. Rev. 1021 (2016):
The pronounced increase over the past few decades of the role of consumerism in higher education in general and in law schools specifically, in which schools and students view themselves, respectively, as consumers and sellers of an educational product, has only been accelerated in recent years with the competition over the declining number of potential entering law students. With no end to this trend in site, consumerism appears to have become a part of the reality of legal education.
This Article explores the intersection of consumerism and professionalism in the law school setting with a specific focus on the “Millennial” law student. This Article first explores the contours of what constitutes “professionalism,” concluding that at essence it involves aspirational values of the legal profession. The Article also delineates the unique characteristics of law students from the Millennial generation, focusing on Millennials’ penchant for service and desire for greater meaning through work.
With this background in mind, the Article argues that although, as of yet, Millennial students’ self-conception of themselves as consumers has hindered rather than helped law schools in fulfilling their duty to inculcate legal professionalism, law schools have the ability to change this. By drawing upon the unique characteristics of the Millennial student, law schools can harness the power of consumerism to give the Millennial student-consumer the greater meaning that she seeks while at the same time inculcating students with the aspirational values of our profession.
To bring about this change, law schools will have to embrace the Humanizing Legal Education Movement and focus on the movement’s central tenant of nurturing not just the mind but also the “soul” of the law student. With the Humanizing Legal Education Movement as the skeletal structure, specific educational mechanisms, namely Mindset Theory, metacognition, and self-regulated learning, can provide the flesh on the bones that brings this goal to fruition.