Paul L. Caron

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Taxonomizing Professional Identity Formation: The Soul Of Legal Education

Harmony Decosimo (Suffolk; Google Scholar), Taxonomizing Professional Identity Formation: The Soul of Legal Education, 67 St. Louis U. L.J. __ (2023):

Following the ABA’s recent mandate requiring law schools to provide students with opportunities for “professional identity formation,” this is the first article to taxonomize the field of professional identity formation advanced or employed in U.S. law schools. By organizing this muddled field into three dominant approaches and examining the primary and sometimes unspoken goals of each, this article unveils the potential pitfalls in this project, including the possibility of coercion, indoctrination, impotence, or waste. Ultimately, this article paves the way for more honest, open, and fruitful dialogue and debate as law schools strategically plan how best to engage in the professional identity formation of future lawyers.

For many stakeholders, the ABA’s decision to mandate opportunities for professional identity formation provides the open path that has been so desperately sought and needed to change legal education and the profession for the better. But one person’s vision of the good is not always the same as another’s. How to craft and engage in a project that will be at once deeply personal, meaningful, and transformative, while at the same time inclusive, pluralistic, and noncoercive, will be challenging to say the least. This article contends that the best way to start is with transparent examination of the goals of formation, the means to achieving those goals, and the values that are implicated in the process.

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