Standard 303 and the Development of Student Professional Identity: A Framework for the Intentional Exploration of the Profession's Core Values

22 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2023

See all articles by Neil W. Hamilton

Neil W. Hamilton

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Jerome M. Organ

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)

David Grenardo

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)

Louis D. Bilionis

University of Cincinnati College of Law

Barbara Glesner Fines

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law

Date Written: October 8, 2023

Abstract

Legal educators, following the change in ABA accreditation Standard 303(b)(3), must face directly the question “what are the core values of the legal profession?” This article offers a framework both to help faculty and staff clarify their thinking on what are the profession’s core values and to spotlight the choices law schools need to consider in purposeful fashion.

The framework offered here should also help allay two concerns that faculty, staff, and students may have about core values of the profession. One concern is that all statements of values are subjective in the sense that they are expressions of individual subjective preferences, beliefs, and attitudes.

A second concern is that statements of values tend to privilege the traditional, and hence fail to reflect the diversity of the profession and the experience and views of marginalized members of the profession – particularly with respect to the elimination of bias, discrimination, and racism.

On the first concern, the article analyzes first the core values of all the service professions to point out two core values foundational to all of them. The article then analyzes the legal profession’s core values articulated in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, adopted with some variation by all fifty states. The fifty-state adoption of the Model Rules indicates a strong consensus on the core values of the profession. On the second concern, the values framework offered here makes clear that elimination of bias, discrimination, and racism is among the profession’s core values, and that the profession should, on an ongoing basis, seek feedback widely regarding its core values, particularly from marginalized groups, and reflect on the feedback. Part II outlines the ABA accreditation Standard 303 changes that require each law school to help students develop a professional identity through the intentional exploration of the values of the profession. This means the faculty and staff need to discern the values of the profession they want the students to explore. Part III analyzes what is a professional identity? Part IV provides a framework to help legal educators clarify their thinking about the profession’s core values. The framework features some widely shared fundamental values for all the service professions, and locates also values particular to the legal profession. Part V explores how the core values of the profession in part IV connect to “successful legal practice.” Part VI discusses cautionary arguments that traditional values like those in the Model Rules can privilege some groups and fail to account for the experiences and viewpoints of marginalized groups.

Suggested Citation

Hamilton, Neil W. and Organ, Jerome M. and Grenardo, David and Bilionis, Louis D. and Glesner Fines, Barbara, Standard 303 and the Development of Student Professional Identity: A Framework for the Intentional Exploration of the Profession's Core Values (October 8, 2023). University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2, Forthcoming, U of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Legal Studies Research Paper No. 24-03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4598227 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4598227

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

Jerome M. Organ

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

David Grenardo

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

Louis D. Bilionis

University of Cincinnati College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States

Barbara Glesner Fines

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

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