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Professionalism Clearly Defined

Neil W. Hamilton

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)


Professional Lawyer, Vol. 18, No. 4, 2008
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-30

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching study of legal education, Educating Lawyers (2007), finds that legal education and the profession itself could do far better at socializing students and practicing lawyers into an ethical professional identity guided by the public purpose of the profession. Existing scholarship uses "professionalism" to capture the elements of an ethical professional identity.

"Professionalism Clearly Defined" examines the ABA and Conference of Chief Justice reports on professionalism and synthesizes five elements that define professionalism and an ethical professional identity. The article is the first to put personal conscience as the foundation of professionalism. It is also the first to emphasize that professionalism requires a continuing reflective engagement, over a career, on the relative importance of income and wealth in light of the other principles of professionalism.

It is critical to define the elements of an ethical professional identity clearly so that legal education and the education of practicing lawyers like Georgia's required professionalism mentor program for newly admitted lawyers have clear objectives. Clear objectives make possible assessment of efforts to improve professionalism.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: Professional responsibility, legal ethics, professionalism, legal profession, legal education

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Date posted: September 19, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Hamilton, Neil W., Professionalism Clearly Defined (2007). U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-30; U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-30. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1015396

Contact Information

Neil W. Hamilton (Contact Author)
University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )
MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States
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