Academia, Uncategorized

The future of Professional Responsibility courses should include leadership development!

During the 2023 AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego in January, I attended the AALS Section on Professional Responsibility as they celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the PR Section with a program, “Looking Forward, Lawyering In The Next 50 Years.”

My motivation to attend was our continuing desire to explore interesting ways to incorporate leadership development throughout law school curricula. We have long recognized the potential for incorporating leadership development into PR courses. It is thrilling to discover that their discussions wholly align with our desire to awaken in our students a recognition of their obligation to serve society (in addition to serving their clients well) and then to better prepare them for those crucial roles. You can listen to the recording of the Section’s conversation at the PR Section’s 50th Anniversary Program.

Professional Responsibility courses are required in all law schools across the nation. These important courses are often under-utilized. We can and should do more in those essential courses! That was a message I heard loud and clear at the Section gathering.

Incorporating more leadership development into PR courses is a natural fit! Just consider the following expressions of a lawyer’s duty in society as stated in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble: A Lawyer’s Responsibilities:

“[1] lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.”

 [6] As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice, and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education. In addition, a lawyer should further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system.

[7] … A lawyer should strive to attain the highest level of skill, to improve the law and the legal profession, and to exemplify the legal profession’s ideals of public service.

[13] Lawyers play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship to our legal system. The Rules of Professional Conduct, when properly applied, serve to define that relationship.

Lawyers are leaders. It is part of our professional identity. And lawyers’ professional responsibilities include serving well and with honor and using our legal knowledge and training for the greater good!

I look forward to continuing these conversations!

– Leah