Thirty Reflection Questions to Help Each Student Find Meaningful Employment and Develop an Integrated Professional Identity (Professional Formation)
48 Pages Posted: 14 May 2016
Date Written: May 13, 2016
Law schools must now define learning outcomes for their programs of legal education. Many law schools (and many professors in individual courses) are defining learning outcomes that include values beyond just minimal compliance with the law of lawyering – called here professional-formation learning outcomes.
This article, drawing on and synthesizing scholarship from law and other disciplines, will focus on the design of a curriculum with thirty reflection questions to help each student’s step-by-step development toward professional-formation learning outcomes beyond mere compliance with the law of lawyering. Section I of this article will describe the present context in which law schools must develop learning outcomes, and will highlight the number of law schools that have embraced one or both of the elements of a professional-formation learning outcome where a law school or a professor in an individual course requires that each student demonstrate an understanding and integration of:
1. proactive professional development toward excellence at all the competencies needed to serve clients and the legal system well;
2. an internalized deep responsibility to clients and the legal system.
Section II of the article analyzes the principles that should inform the design of an effective curriculum for these two professional-formation learning outcomes. Section III of the article will suggest thirty reflection questions that help each student:
1) reflect on the story, experiences and passions that brought her to law school and that she develops during law school as a means of both (a) identifying what she wants to do with her law degree and (b) proactively taking ownership over her growth toward meaningful post-graduate employment; and
2) make progress moving through developmental stages regarding these two professional formation learning outcomes; so that
3) she can begin to define and to live out who she wants to be as a lawyer in the context of what clients and the legal system expect of her.
Keywords: professional formation, professional identity, professionalism, law student employment
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