Growin’ Up: An Assessment of Adult Self-Image in Clinical Law Students

31 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2011

See all articles by Judith L. Ritter

Judith L. Ritter

Widener University Delaware Law School

Date Written: March 2, 2011


My thesis is that a majority of law students do not view themselves as adult professionals. When upper-class law students participate in live-client clinical programs, their lack of an adult self-image presents a barrier to effectiveness.

This article draws upon theories of psychological and moral development to explore the ingredients of being an adult and having an adult self-image. It examines the obstacles to development confronted by contemporary law students. The article explains the ways in which having an adult self-image is so important to the success of the student lawyer and how lacking an adult self-image can diminish the value of an experiential learning experience.

In the article, I urge teachers in traditional and experiential/clinical courses to be mindful of the developmental journeys of our students. I recommend that faculty support personality growth at the same time that they support professional growth and skills acquisition. I suggest ways in which this can be accomplished. I conclude by emphasizing that by paying closer attention to students’ self-images clinical teachers can position their students for more substantial growth as lawyers.

Keywords: Legal Education, Students, Self Image, Clinical Legal Education, Adults, Professionals, Law Students

JEL Classification: L10, I29

Suggested Citation

Ritter, Judith L., Growin’ Up: An Assessment of Adult Self-Image in Clinical Law Students (March 2, 2011). Akron Law Review, Vol. 44, p. 137, 2011; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-11. Available at SSRN:

Judith L. Ritter (Contact Author)

Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics