Paul L. Caron

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Hamilton Reviews The Formation of Professional Identity: The Path From Student To Lawyer

Neil Hamilton (St. Thomas; Google Scholar), Book Review, 69 J. Legal Educ. 224 (2019) (reviewing Patrick Emery Longan (Mercer), Daisy Hurst Floyd (Mercer) & Timothy W. Floyd (Mercer), The Formation of Professional Identity: The Path from Student to Lawyer (2020)): 

Formation-of-professional-identityThe Formation of Professional Identity: The Path from Student to Lawyer provides much-needed concise and effective curriculum to address two closely related fundamental challenges for each law student and law school. The fundamental challenge for each law student is how to grow from being an aspiring entrantto-the-profession student to being a lawyer with adequate competency on the full array of capacities and skills that employers and clients want and need. The fundamental and complementary challenge for each law school—and for higher education for the professions generally—is how most effectively to foster each new student’s growth from being an aspiring-entrant student to being a licensed contributing member of the profession.

Starting more than twenty years ago, medical educators realized that emphasis on doctrinal medical knowledge and cognitive analytical skills, even when those skills are being applied in a clinical context, was insufficient to meet patient and population needs. Medical education has been moving toward more emphasis on patient-focused and teamwork centered medical care. 

Legal education has historically emphasized legal doctrinal knowledge and cognitive analytical skills and de-emphasized required experiential education (such as clinics, externships, and other simulation courses teaching other skills). Finally in 2014, the ABA mandated that each law school require six credits of experiential education. Some law schools are realizing that even six credits of experiential education, especially if this instruction principally emphasizes doctrinal legal knowledge and legal analysis applied in a practice setting, is not sufficient to meet client and legal employer needs. This group of schools sees that values like those the medical schools are emphasizing are also of fundamental importance in the law.

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