Educating Millennial Law Students for Public Obligation
Steven K. Berenson
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
September 19, 2009
Charlotte Law Review, Vol. 1, p. 51, 2008
Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 1475338
Though disagreement remains regarding the fundamental purposes of legal education, there is widespread concurrence with the proposition that lawyers have public obligations that go beyond service to individual clients and that legal education therefore should at least attempt to prepare students to some degree to serve such public obligations. Indeed, recent well regarded studies regarding legal education, including the Carnegie Foundation's "Educating Lawyers" study and the Clinical Legal Education Association's "Best Practices" project, have focused in large measure on the idea of preparing future lawyers for public obligation. Despite this fact, these studies have paid virtually no attention to the characteristics of the particular group of students likely to fill the majority of places in law school classes over the next two decades.
This essay attempts to fill that gap. It focuses on studies of the fundamental attitudes and characteristics of the Millennial Generation. It suggests that these attitudes and characteristics are likely to pose significant challenges for legal educators' efforts to train their students for public obligation. However, the essay contends that embrace of the ideology of professionalism may serve as an antidote to these challenges. The essay concludes by offering some suggestions for how better to infuse the law school curriculum with concepts of professionalism in an effort to train law students better for public obligation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: legal profession, legal education, law students
JEL Classification: K40, K49Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 19, 2009 ; Last revised: December 13, 2012
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