Learning Professional Responsibility for the Practice of Law: The Way Forward

22 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016 Last revised: 14 Dec 2016

See all articles by Clark D. Cunningham

Clark D. Cunningham

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: December 6, 2016


This working paper expands and adds information about educational initiatives in a variety of countries to a book chapter focusing primarily on legal education in the United States, published in Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World 280-96 (Deborah Maranville, Lisa Radtke Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kaas & Antoinette Sedillo Lopez eds., Lexis/Matthew Bender 2015). The paper begins by summarizing social science research led by the Center for the Study of Ethical Development and applied to design comprehensive ethics programs for a number of other professions than law. The central theory that guides this research and educational design is the Four Component Model developed to explain how cognition, affect and social dynamics interact to influence moral behavior. Because this model supports the use of well-validated measures for assessing the effectiveness of ethics education, it can be very useful to law school that are moving to an outcome based approach to curriculum design, as US law schools are now being compelled to do by new accreditation standards. An ideal program of instruction for learning professional responsibility prior to receiving a license to practice law is then proposed that would include, in addition to learning the basic "law of lawyering," eleven different instructional elements. The paper concludes by describing initiatives in legal education around the world that incorporate and exemplify one or more of these elements. As this working paper continues to expand to include more information about innovative teaching practices, it will appear in an updated form on the website of the International Forum on Teaching Legal Ethics and Professionalism.

Keywords: legal education, professional development, legal profession, professional responsibility, professional ethics, legal ethics, teaching ethics

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Cunningham, Clark D., Learning Professional Responsibility for the Practice of Law: The Way Forward (December 6, 2016). Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-31, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2881654 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2881654

Clark D. Cunningham (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.clarkcunningham.org

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