We encourage you to Zoomin Thursday, January 26, at 3:00 p.m. Central to join host Robin Thorner, Assistant Dean, Office of Career Strategy, at St. Mary’s Law School, and other law faculty and staff interested in professional identity formation efforts to continue the national conversation about professional identity formation.
The work on professional identity formation aligns closely with our leadership development efforts. At Baylor Law, professional identity formation is the first of our three objectives, which are to encourage and assist law students to:
Embrace their professional identity as they serve clients and society;
Develop competencies and skills to succeed; and
Boldly seek opportunities to make a difference in the profession, their communities, and the world.
In a post this week on the Holloran Center Professional Identity Implementation Blog (stthomas.edu), I share how our friends and colleagues at the Holloran Center continue to inform and influence our leadership work. Their scholarship and advice drew my attention to the third dimension of professional education described in Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (the “Carnegie Report”): “Professional identity formation is defined as “effective ways to engage and make their own the ethical standards, social roles, and responsibilities of the profession, grounded in the profession’s fundamental purposes.” Through those interactions, we became more committed to helping law students see themselves as having both important obligations to serve society as lawyers and incredible opportunities as leaders to make a difference in the lives of others.
Our thanks to the Holloran Center for their continued work and camaraderie! I hope you can join the next PIF conversation this Thursday, January 26, at 3:00 p.m. via Zoom.
The recent amendments to ABA Standard 303(b) (development of a professional identity) & (c) (education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism) did not require major adjustments to our programming at Baylor Law. Still, a 303 Committee was appointed to ensure and document our compliance. With a mission to “train lawyers who are able to practice law with competence, serve with compassion, and provide effective and ethical leadership,” we have long been dedicated to the notion that our job does not end with teaching basic concepts of law and legal analysis. With a tradition of incorporating a significant amount of practical skills training, the concept of professionalism is baked into the DNA of a Baylor Law education. With that said, we recognized eight years ago that we needed to be more intentional in our professional development training. In 2014, we created our Professional Development Program and our Leadership Development Program to be more intentional in preparing students for the modern challenges of being a member of our time-honored profession.
The 303 Committee’s review of our curriculum and programming confirmed numerous ways in which Baylor Law develops law students’ professionalism. But the Committee did not stop there. More can and should be done and we spent the summer exploring enhancements and additions to our programming. This post highlights one of those new programs. Beginning with the Fall 2022 entering class, all entering students will participate in a public deliberation workshop.
What is public deliberation and why should law students learn how to do it?
The public expects lawyers to be zealous advocates for their clients, but sometimes a lawyer’s conduct goes beyond zealous advocacy and crosses the line of civility. Not only does ill-mannered conduct reflect poorly on our profession, but it also contributes to the normalizing of disrespectful, uncivil, and polarizing reactions to viewpoints and statements with which a person does not agree.
Lawyers’ professional obligation extends beyond individual clients to our system of justice and to society. As stated in the preamble to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct: A Lawyer’s Responsibility, “[a] lawyer is a representative of the clients, an officer of the legal system, and a public citizen having a special responsibility for the quality of justice.” Since the beginning of this nation, lawyers have recognized that their special status comes with a professional responsibility to address pressing issues facing society. A lawyer’s legal education and training provide the opportunity to be change agents and difference makers not only for their clients but also in their communities and across the nation. These professional obligations and opportunities for influence call for lawyers to model civil discourse and to be able to facilitate deliberation in a calm and respectful manner.
This workshop teaches our students a different way to approach advocacy – one that helps them embody professionalism, model civility, and advocate more effectively.
We want this experience to occur early in law school so they recognize that civility and professionalism are not antithetical to zealously representing a client. We also hope the experience will inspire and enable students to approach some of the most potentially heated issues debated in the public square (e.g. race, religion and its role in society, sexual orientation, gun rights or gun control, among others) with a desire to build community through shared values, solve problems and build a better tomorrow.
Public Deliberation Workshop Required for Entering Students
Beginning with the Fall 2022 quarter, each entering student at Baylor Law will be introduced to a model for civil discourse through a workshop developed in partnership with Baylor University’s Public Deliberation Initiative. Dr. Joshua Ritter, Director of the Public Deliberation Initiative, described the workshop as a “partnership for training law students as active deliberative citizens with democratic skillsets they can implement within their own communities and leadership.”
The 1 ½ hour workshop began with a video from the Dean to explain the importance of the effort and to give some context. After some initial remarks and instructions by Dr. Ritter, the law students were divided into groups of 10-12 and given an issue for discussion. Different topics can be used but it needs to be one that generally elicits a wide range of differing views. We used food insecurity for our first workshop.
Facilitating each group is a second- or third-year law student who participated in a 2- hour training session with Dr. Ritter. The facilitators keep the group on task while remaining neutral. The goal is not to change anyone’s mind on the particular issue, but simply for each participant to hear and to be heard on the issue.
Through this interactive exercise, we hope to demonstrate to students that individuals with diametrically opposed positions often share common values but they may prioritize those values differently. We also recognize the benefit to the law school environment. Creating a culture of respect for colleagues with different life experiences and perspectives will enrich our classrooms and programs.
Please contact us for more information on this program.
Neil W. Hamilton and Louis D. Bilionis continue their all-star efforts to guide and support law school faculty and staff tasked with meeting the new requirements in ABA Standard 303. Their new book, Law Student Professional Development and Formation: Bridging Law School, Student, and Employer Goals (Cambridge University Press, 2022) is now available to help those charged with providing substantial opportunities for the development of their students’ professional identity, as well as education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism. The book has received praises and endorsements from many deans and professors, including Professors Patrick Longan, Daisy Hurst Floyd, and Timothy W. Floyd who just published a book review in the July/August NALP Bulletin (viewable by members only). As explained in that review, “[t]he book is aimed primarily at law school professors and administrators who understand professional identity and appreciate its importance but who are at schools where professional identity formation has not yet taken root. For members of that audience, the book provides wise advice about how to proceed step-by-step and a detailed look at the best practices for promoting professional identity formation.”
In their work, Hamilton and Bilionis encourage law schools to start with a group of enthusiastic faculty and staff who are already interested and then empower them to engage in professional identity work that will meet the students “where they are.” Their book provides a plan for creating programming that will benefit “students, legal employers, clients, the legal system, and the law school.” Their goal is to assist law schools as they effectively and practically address the new 303(c) requirement. They note ABA Standard Interpretation 303-5 which recognizes that the work of “developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over time,” and therefore, law schools should provide students with “frequent opportunities for such development during each year of law school and in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.”
As Longan, Floyd and Floyd add, “[i]n Law Student Professional Development and Formation: Bridging Law School, Student, and Employer Goals, Professors Hamilton and Bilionis have done legal education a tremendous service by setting forth the opportunities for professional identity formation in this moment and providing a practical playbook for taking advantage of those opportunities, even in the face of some expected institutional resistance.”
This is critically important work in legal education! We appreciate all of you for your dedication to better preparing law students for their future work as professionals and leaders.
Have you ever been in a situation where your ideas or concerns, as expressed to those in authority, did not lead to action? Did it leave you feeling dissatisfied and powerless? Many of us have found ourselves in these frustrating situations– or even hopeless– because we had no authority to change the situation. Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Leading Without Authority, is written to encourage and empower us as leaders and influencers, especially in situations where we have no title, position, or power of authority to act.
Ferrazzi frames a new dynamic for leadership that encourages those in a follower position, and even those in a leadership position, to use collaborative approaches to problem-solving that redefine the traditional power paradigm. Ferrazzi places this new framework on our ability to create our own team, identify our own goals, and effect change. It is packed with strategies and approaches to leading without authority, not only for those who teach leadership but particularly important for law students and young lawyers who have not reached a point in their career to hold traditional leadership power or positions.
We highly encourage you to pick up or download a copy and recommend it to your law students. The lessons in it will help them, starting with their internships and clerkships this summer.
As the end of summer nears and return to school looms, we are returning to the basics. For me, that means back to the beginning of this effort to support the growth of leadership development programming in legal education. I remember the early morning breakfast at the 2016 AALS meeting where Deborah Rhode and I hosted a small but enthusiastic group in the first conversation about this effort to encourage law schools to better prepare students as leaders. Encouraged by the energy at that gathering, we planned a formal Group Discussion for the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting entitledIntroducing Leadership Development into the Law School Curriculum(see notes linked).The room was packed and over-flowing! The appetite for action was exciting. We all agreed that it was time! Lawyers are leaders and leadership development should be an integral part of legal education and training.
After all manner of justifications for why we need to emphasize leadership development in legal education, we identified and acknowledge challenges and we generated ideas. Two of the challenges identified at that time were:
How do we get colleagues to support the creation of leadership development initiatives?
How do we help professors and staff colleagues incorporate leadership development into all aspects of their legal education (class, clinics, professional identity formation, career development, etc.).
For readers in the legal academy: Help at least two colleagues find ways to incorporate leadership development in their classes, programs, or other work within the school.
For readers who do not hold a full-time position in a law school: Inquire about leadership programming at your alma mater or one with which you have a relationship and offer to help.
In a case of colleagues who still think “leaders are born, not made,” victory may be convincing them that leadership development is relevant and important and can be done in law school. Even if they are not yet comfortable that they can effectively include discussions or lessons of leadership in their classrooms, maybe they will be supportive of leadership development efforts of other colleagues.
In future posts, we will discuss some suggestions for influence and action, which is after all our definition of leadership.
An inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey:
âWhen I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change â So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,
And who knows, I might have even changed the world.â
Before you can lead an organization or community â¦ before
you can impact the world â¦ you must first âleadâ yourself. For us, the most important aspect of any
leadership development program is to start with a focus on âgrowingâ yourself. Easier
said than done! But why? Could it be
that we are too eager to skip ahead to leaving our mark on the world? We can be
so focused on doing the âimportantâ and wanting to be remembered for what we accomplish
that we forget leadership â like any other subject in law school â begins at
the beginning. There is no substitute for the elemental work that feeds our growth
layer by layer, branch by branch.
In our leadership development course, we spend about half our time guiding the students on a journey of self-discovery. Since we begin every orientation at Baylor Law with emphasis on the role of lawyers in society (as guardians of our democracy, trusted advisors to their clients and leaders in their communities), we do not start from ground zero in our leadership development class. We begin with a deeper discussion of our obligations to society and the important opportunities they will have to be influencers with integrity. After setting expectations for their future, we introduce them to leadership characteristics, traits, and styles, as well as various scenarios where their leadership will be needed. Starting with these concepts, terms and contexts â the language of leadership development â sets the foundation.
The core of our leadership class is devoted to helping
students come to âknowâ themselves â their preferences, strengths, and areas of
challenge. We know this is essential to prepare them for future situations that
will require them to act and to make decision, or to offer guidance to those
who will. We guide our students through
a series of discussions, self-assessments and self-reflective exercises
designed to help them be better prepared, even practiced, for those future
actions and opportunities. Just as with other areas, we know that students are
more likely to handle a difficult or stressful situation, even a crisis, with
competence and integrity if they have seen or at least thought about the scenario,
or a similar one, at some time before. That is the wisdom and judgment gained
through practice and experience.
We also spend some time in our course on what it means to âleadâ others (including working well with others, recognizing the influence lawyers can have on others, and successfully building an inclusive team). We end with an attempt to inspire students to consider the impact they want to have on the world and then to be thoughtful, strategic and adaptive as they plan their next steps. Â
Leadership development is a life-long journey to be better at helping others be more and accomplish more. As lawyers, our legal education and training, and our sense of honor and purpose as guardians of our democracy, make us ideally suited to impact those around us â¦ and, yes, maybe even change the worldâ¦ if we recognize early enough that it all begins with us.
âGive me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.â – Abraham Lincoln