Entering Law Students’ Conceptions of an Ethical Professional Identity and the Role of the Lawyer in Society

28 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2010 Last revised: 7 Mar 2011

Verna Monson

University of St. Thomas; Cultural Dynamics Consulting

Neil W. Hamilton

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: March 12, 2010

Abstract

Kegan’s theory of lifespan identity development framed a pilot study of law students’ understanding of professionalism, part of a broader study of ethical professional identity. Four raters trained in Kegan’s stage criteria could reliably assess one of three developmental stages, based on coding essays on professionalism. Correlations of stage scores with moral judgment scores, service learning, and work experience supported the validity of the method. Ethical professional identity assessment can be integrated with courses or mentoring programs to provide students with developmental feedback. This method can also be used to assess law school outcomes with respect to ethical professional identity by comparing growth from matriculation to graduation.

Keywords: professionalism, ethical professional identity, epistemology, formative assessment, adult developmental

Suggested Citation

Monson, Verna and Hamilton, Neil W., Entering Law Students’ Conceptions of an Ethical Professional Identity and the Role of the Lawyer in Society (March 12, 2010). Journal of the Legal Profession, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1581528 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1581528

Verna Monson (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas ( email )

Minneapolis, MN 55403
United States

Cultural Dynamics Consulting ( email )

55414
612 (Phone)

Neil W. Hamilton

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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