The Qualities of the Professional Lawyer

Chapter in ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF THE PROFESSIONAL LAWYER (ed. Paul Haskins, ABAPublishing 2013)

U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-22

20 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2014  

Neil W. Hamilton

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Why would you as a law student or early-career lawyer want to internalize the qualities of the professional lawyer? Let me start with a bold proposition: If, over a career, you build a strong internalized foundation of the qualities of the professional lawyer, you will continue over a career to become an increasingly effective and successful lawyer.

Section I below analyzes empirical data identifying the qualities that legal employers and clients want in a new lawyer. Section II analyzes the empirical evidence on what qualities of the professional lawyer inform the profession’s understanding of professionalism, professional formation and an ethical professional identity. That evidence reveals a powerful service ethic anchoring professional formation: An internalized moral core characterized by a deep responsibility for others, particularly clients. Section III explores how the qualities of the professional lawyer form the foundation upon which a law student and early-career lawyer builds over a career to develop all the values, virtues, capacities and skills of an effective lawyer. Section IV reflects professional formation’s central role in fulfilling the legal profession’s “social contract” with the larger society. That section also considers the “moral insight” attained by lawyers at later stages of professional formation. Section V concludes with a discussion of some key lessons to remember going forward in your law studies and career as a lawyer.

Keywords: legal ethics, professional responsibility, professionalism, professional lawyer, professional formation, professional ethics

Suggested Citation

Hamilton, Neil W., The Qualities of the Professional Lawyer (2013). Chapter in ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF THE PROFESSIONAL LAWYER (ed. Paul Haskins, ABAPublishing 2013); U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2469982

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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