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Barbara Glesner FInes, David Grenardo, Felicia Hamilton, Jerome Organ, Kendall Kerew, Louis Bilionis, Neil Hamilton

Welcoming the new year with gratitude: Holloran Center Resolutions for 2024

By: Barbara Glesner Fines, Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law, UMKC School of Law

What better time to reflect on professional identity formation than the new year, when so many of us are making resolutions for growth and improvement.  Here are three of our resolutions for the Holloran Center’s continued formation:

  1. We resolve to be grateful.  We are grateful for the leadership of Tom Holloran, whose example of servant leadership inspires us. We are grateful for the work of scholars and teachers in other professions who have given us so many insights and inspiration. We are especially grateful to you, our colleagues engaged in this work of coaching, mentoring, and guiding our students in their transformation from student to lawyer.
  2. We resolve to listen.  This past year, we have learned so much from the questions and critiques posed by our colleagues.  What do we really mean by formation? How is it different from the knowledge and skills transfer we aim to teach and provide? How do we assess development?  How do or should concepts of professionalism and civility fit into professional identity? What about this idea of “identity”?  How does that singular-sounding noun reconcile with our diverse cultures and values as individuals and communities? How do we ensure that the work of formation is shared and equitably by our entire community? Our understanding of our work has evolved with each question and challenge.
  3. We resolve to share. Since 2013, over 400 scholars, teachers, and student services professionals from over 60 law schools have attended a Professional Identity Formation workshop or conference or symposium sponsored by the Holloran Center. We look forward to hosting at least three additional workshops in 2024: a conference for professional responsibility scholars and teachers in April, along with two summer workshops.  We will continue to support others leading in this effort. We are also working to develop our online community: revising our databases of materials and inventories, and growing our blog and listserv.  Let us know how we can help.

Happy New Year!

Neil, Jerry, David, Lou, Barb, Kendall, and Felicia


Studying for an exam
Barbara Glesner FInes

Final Exams and Professional Identity Formation

By: Barbara Glesner Fines, Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law, UMKC School of Law

As final exam season nears, we who teach doctrinal classes are turning our efforts toward constructing final exams that will fairly assess our students’ mastery of the learning outcomes we have set for our class. What conclusions might we draw about the final exam experience as an opportunity for students to experience being a lawyer or to reflect on what that identity means?

We might conclude that some traditional final exam approaches are not well suited as intentional formation experiences.  Multiple-choice, standardized questions are unlikely to provide an opportunity to develop one’s conception of the role of attorney.  While these exam question approaches can be helpful for assessing knowledge and, to some degree, analytical skill, they are an experience that is entirely academic.  Traditional essay questions, even when framed as “you are the attorney for…”  or asking students to “advise your client,” are equally unlikely to help students to form a professional identity.  When delivered in the artificial environment of a timed, in-class final exam, students are unlikely to see these essay exams as experiences in which they are acting in an authentic lawyering role.

Nevertheless, traditional exam approaches are not irrelevant to professional formation.  All communicate the need for professionals to prepare diligently, perform well under pressure, and communicate clearly: all part of the professional value of striving for excellence.  However, they also may communicate negative habits and mindsets.

If the final exam is the only opportunity for graded credit that students receive during a semester, students are taught that day-to-day work has little value compared to the ability to deliver on deadline.  Many of our students have intellectual abilities that allowed them to earn high grades during their undergraduate education by simply “cramming” for final exams rather than requiring steady, daily practice. Unfortunately, many attempt and even succeed in that same approach to their work in law school.  It is little wonder, then, that we see the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct needing to comment that, “Perhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination.”[1]  One way, then, to create opportunities for students to internalize a strong commitment to sustained, quality work is to make sure that the final exam is not the only place in which they are given feedback or earn reward.

Probably the most powerful formation aspect of final exams is what comes after they are over: grades.  Grades can impact professional formation in many negative ways.  Law students, already overly reliant on external measures of self-worth, can be pushed even further in that direction.  Students can take grades as indicia of career opportunities and academic expectations.  For those at the bottom of the curve, grades can create a sense of hopelessness that undermines continual improvement.  Students at the top of the statistical grade curve are not unaffected either.  Their top-percentage grades can lead them to feel that they are doing something wrong if they do not enter the large firm tournament.

There is a tension here of course.  The more we use “grades” to motivate student performance, the more we emphasize an external locus of control.  We can find ways to provide frequent feedback and give students credit for regular practice without sending a message that student’s performance is tied to their competitive grade ranking with their peers. For example, regular practice quizzes or exams (i.e., evaluated but ungraded) can give students a way to assess their progress and earn the intrinsic satisfaction of producing a quality product.

As one of the most powerful experiences in law school, final exams could become transformative opportunities for students to reflect on their own attitudes toward professional work and value. For law schools to help make that happen, we must build in more opportunities to communicate with students about the meaning of exams and grades. We could engage students to reflect on the exam experience after it is over, develop the habit of reflection on performance for continual improvement, and right-size the impact of grades on their own self-evaluation. We do not generally structure our academic calendars to incorporate such an experience. That doesn’t mean that such an experience could not be built into our academic programs as part of an overall professional identity formation program.

Do any schools have such a program? Please share your experiences on the Holloran Center PIF listserv or with me at


[1] ABA Model Rule 1.3, Comment 3.

Barbara Glesner FInes

American Bar Association Difference Maker Award Recognizes PIF Program

By Felicia Hamilton, Holloran Center Coordinator

At its annual fall meeting, the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division’s (GPSolo) recognized Holloran Center Fellow Barbara Glesner Fines with its Difference Maker Award.   The Award recognized Dean Glesner Fines’ leadership in developing a solo and small firm program at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law.  This program is explicitly designed as a professional formation opportunity in which students are guided in envisioning themselves as entrepreneurial lawyers and are required to prepare a business plan and portfolio for their solo or small firm practice.

That program, first developed with Dean Emerita Ellen Suni and Professor Tony Luppino in 2004, serves those students who have a goal of entering solo or small firm practice upon graduation.  More than simply a law practice management course (though that is an important component in building their plan), the course helps students to identify and demonstrate their unique value to the community.  Students articulate the values that will guide their practice.  They learn about the business of law and the professional guideposts.  Their portfolio provides details of financing, equipment, software, staffing, insurance, and more.

To help guide students in preparing their portfolio, the program faculty work closely with members of the bar and professional support service providers to provide expertise, coaching, and mentoring.  The primary course is held during the summer and includes student participation in the Missouri Bar Solo & Small Firm Conference.  At the conference, students meet solo practitioners in their preferred fields of practice and geographic areas.  Students share their portfolios and pitch their business plans to attorneys for critique, attend continuing education sessions, visit with vendors of support services, and meet members of the Missouri Supreme Court and leadership of the Missouri Bar.

Alumni of the program have launched a variety of very successful solo and small firm practices, many of them by starting in the law school’s post-graduate incubator.  These have included solo practices focusing on a highly specialized fields, general practices in rural and underserved communities, innovative nonprofit law firms, practices focusing on innovation or technology, and highly successful solo and small firms across a wide range of practice areas.  Graduates from even a decade ago report that they still revisit and revise their original business plan prepared during law school. These alumni, in turn, guide the next generation of solo and small firm attorneys.

The program is an example of collaboration in building a professional identity formation program to successfully help students in their transition from student to lawyers.  Congratulations to Holloran Fellow Barbara Glesner Fines and her colleagues on making a difference with this program.

To learn more about the solo & small firm program or to share your own experience with similar programs, contact Professor Glesner Fines at


Barbara Glesner Fines is the Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

Barbara Glesner Fines is the Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

Barbara Glesner FInes, David Grenardo, Jerome Organ, Louis Bilionis, Neil Hamilton

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


By Felicia Hamilton, Holloran Center Coordinator

Holloran Center Directors Neil Hamilton, Jerry Organ, and David Grenardo, along with Holloran Center Fellows Barbara Glesner Fines and Louis Bilionis recently co-authored an article that supplies a framework for understanding the core values of the legal profession. The authors’ intention is to guide legal educators into a thoughtful exploration of the nature of these values, and to encourage law school faculty and staff to make intentional choices around how their programs highlight them. Using the metaphor of a tree, the authors address the core values of the “trunk” (a sense of responsibility to those whom the professional serves and the commitment to professional development) and the “branch” values as codified into the Model Rules.

Read more in the abstract for “Standard 303 and the Development of Student Professional Identity: A Framework for the Intentional Exploration of the Profession’s Core Values” below:

Legal educators, following the change in ABA accreditation Standard 303(b)(3)[1], 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.[2]  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.[3]

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.

[1] Standards & Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, Standard 303(b)(3) (Am. Bar Ass’n 2023), [hereinafter Accreditation Standards],

[2] See, e.g., Joseph Singer, Normative Methods for Lawyers, 56 U.C.L.A. L. Rev. 899, 902-911 (2009).

[3] See discussion in Part VI of this article.

You can download the article from SSRN here.

Neil Hamilton is the Holloran Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota.

Jerome Organ is the Bakken Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions at the University of St. Thomas School of Law

David Grenardo is a Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Barbara Glesner Fines is the Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

Louis Bilionis is the Dean Emeritus and Droege Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Barbara Glesner FInes

Bryan Stevenson’s Transformative Moment of Professional Identity

By: Barbara Glesner Fines, Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law, UMKC School of Law

Award-winning attorney and scholar Bryan Stevenson begins his book Just Mercy[1] with a story of his experience in law school and the transformative moment when he understood what it meant to be a lawyer and the kind of lawyer he wanted to be.

Stevenson recounts his first-year experience at Harvard where “the courses seemed esoteric and disconnected from the race and poverty issues that had motivated me to consider the law in the first place”[2] and he was “left feeling adrift.”[3] This is precisely the challenge raised by William Sullivan in the Carnegie study of the professions in which he notes legal education’s neglect of “the third apprenticeship.”[4]

The transformative formation experience for Stevenson occurred in the summer after his first year of law school when he participated in a month-long field experience with the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee (SPDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. The experience combined three of the core pedagogies of professional identity formation: mentoring, acting as an attorney, and reflection.

First, Stevenson met the director of the SPDC on the flight to Atlanta and immediately found a mentor and role model. As Stevenson recounts that initial meeting, “He showed none of the disconnect between what he did and what he believed that I’d seen in so many of my law professors.”[5] The disconnect between the academy and law practice Stevenson felt is one that still bedevils law schools today and is an important lesson in the necessity for collaboration in developing professional identity formation opportunities in law schools.  Guest speakers in the classroom and practice panels or networking opportunities outside the classroom are not just a way to enliven our curriculum or help our students find jobs. These are opportunities for students to consider models of lawyering and connect with mentors.

In this field experience course, Stevenson had the opportunity to engage with a client in his role as a student attorney. He entered that experience unprepared for its impact.  “I wasn’t prepared to meet a condemned man. In 1983, I was a twenty-three-year-old student at Harvard Law School working in Georgia on an internship, eager and inexperienced and worried that I was in over my head…. When I signed up for this internship, I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that I would actually be meeting condemned prisoners. To be honest, I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a lawyer.”[6]

Stevenson was given a simple task in this encounter – tell the client that he would not have an execution date in the coming year. Placing students in roles as attorneys, no matter how well prepared they are, generates intense emotion for most students – excitement, fear, anxiety, insecurity – and this emotion heightens the impact of the experience. This was true for Stevenson, who entered the prison convinced that he had nothing to offer his client.

Like many transformative formation experiences, the visit was full of surprises for Stevenson: the client’s unexpected gratitude, the personal connection he found with the client, the experience of the brutality of the prison guard’s treatment of his client and his guilt that his visit had contributed to that treatment, and the client’s strong, faith-filled reaction to sing the hymn “Higher Ground” as he was taken away from the visitor room. Stevenson left “completely stunned”[7]  and transformed. He became an attorney and the experience in turn changed his entire motivation and approach toward law school:

I finished my internship committed to helping the death row prisoners I had met that month. Proximity to the condemned and incarcerated made the question of each person’s humanity more urgent and meaningful, including my own. I went back to law school with an intense desire to understand the laws and doctrines that sanctioned the death penalty and extreme punishments. I piled up courses on constitutional law, litigation, appellate procedure, federal courts, and collateral remedies. I did extra work to broaden my understanding of how constitutional theory shapes criminal procedure. I plunged deeply into the law and the sociology of race, poverty, and power. Law school had seemed abstract and disconnected before, but after meeting the desperate and imprisoned, it all became relevant and critically important.[8]

In Bryan Stevenson’s recounting of this first experience with a client on death row, we can see the power and impact of providing opportunities for students to engage with role models and act in the role of attorney. We see how, especially combined with a reflective lens to focus on the meaning of these experiences, these formation experiences help to focus and shape a student’s learning and provide the foundation for their career.


[2] Id. at 4.

[3] Id. at 5.

[4] William M. Sullivan et al., Carnegie Found. for the Advancement of Teaching, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (2007).

[5] Stevenson, supra note 1, at 5.

[6] Id. at 3.

[7] Id. at 12.

[8] Id. at 12-13.

Barbara Glesner Fines is the Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

Barbara Glesner Fines is
the Dean and Rubey M. Hulen
Professor of Law at the
University of Missouri-Kansas City
School of Law.
Barbara Glesner FInes

The Curse of Coverage and Professional Identity Formation

By: Barbara Glesner Fines, Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law, UMKC School of Law

In any conversation about integrating greater opportunity for professional identity formation pedagogy into the curriculum, particularly when suggesting that this be part of the required doctrinal curriculum, one will hear an objection that there is no room.[i]  For many doctrinal teachers, incorporating professional identity formation opportunities or focus into classes would require sacrificing critical doctrinal content and analytical skills.  The pressures toward coverage as a course goal are not insubstantial.  Textbooks grow exponentially each year, reflecting the growing breadth of the law and legal resources.  If a faculty member assigns only a small portion of a textbook, or their syllabus identifies far fewer topics than those contained in the syllabi of other professors teaching the same course, then students feel cheated. The “mile-wide, inch-thick” bar exam looms over all.

The pressures toward broad coverage of doctrine as the primary goal of course design are premised on a number of false premises about student learning.  First, faculty presume that coverage means learning, when research tells us that more content does not mean more learning. “If learning is to endure in a flexible, adaptable way for future use, coverage cannot work.  It leaves us with only easily confused or easily forgotten facts, definitions, and formulas to plug into rigid questions that look just like the ones covered.”[ii]  Research in undergraduate programs and medical schools confirms that more content does not lead to more learning.  Deep learning requires context, repetition, application, and reflection.  For this reason, experts in course design emphasize focusing on “the big questions” or the “hard parts” of a course, so that students can master not only a doctrinal subject but also an approach to learning that subject that will support their lifelong learning.

Second, faculty presume that professional identity formation opportunities are disconnected from knowledge and skills, rather than providing the critical context that motivates and supports deep learning.  Quite the opposite is true.  Students approach their subject-matter study with much greater engagement and a broader lens when they are asked to do the following: (1) consider themselves in the role of attorney in applying a particular doctrine; (2) examine how the law impacted the individual clients in the cases they are studying; or (3) reflect on how the values brought forth in the classroom discussions comport with their own personal values and experience.

Third, faculty presume that the classroom is the primary locus of learning, when even the American Bar Association’s definition of a credit hour recognizes that most of a student’s learning occurs outside of class.  Classroom time is only one-third of the time students devote to any given subject.  Many faculty are coming to realize that this precious time in which students are together in the classroom is squandered if the opportunities for discussion, debate, and practice are spent on lectures (even if interspersed with question prompts) designed to cover content.  Even before the pandemic disrupted pedagogies, faculty had discovered the possibilities of a flipped classroom – providing lectures and efficient delivery of knowledge transfer outside of class and using class time to focus on development of skills and perspectives.  Faculty can then more easily take a small but significant further step to ensure that a frame for these exercises is the student’s own development as a professional.

So how do we exorcise the curse of coverage and make room for opportunities for professional identity formation in the classroom?  We do so by questioning the assumptions that more content is critical to learning and instead focusing on the big questions, marrying professional formation with knowledge and skill development, and finding more efficient ways to deliver content instruction outside of class so as to engage students more fully in the classroom.  Please reach out to me at if you have any questions or comments.

[i] This piece is excerpted from The Curse of Coverage and Professional Identity Formation, U. St. Thomas L. Rev. (Forthcoming 2023).

[ii] Grant P. Wiggins & Jay McTighe, Understanding By Design 46 (2nd ed. 2005)(Lee Shulman, Taking Learning Seriously, 31(4) Change 10, 12 (July/August 1999).)

Barbara Glesner Fines is
the Dean and Rubey M. Hulen
Professor of Law at the
University of Missouri-Kansas City
School of Law.
Barbara Glesner FInes

A Question to Define Professional Identity Formation

By: Barbara Glesner Fines, Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law, UMKC School of Law

During many Holloran Center Workshops since 2017, Jerry Organ (Co-Director of the Holloran Center) has asked participants to begin their exploration of professional identity formation with a simple question:  “When did you first think of yourself as a lawyer?”  Participants reflect on the question individually and then share their reflections.  The question helps to highlight the development process that is identity formation and the key transitional moments in that process.

In a recent faculty workshop at my law school, we used that same exercise but with a slight variation. Participants were asked to think of an identity or a role that they have assumed as adults that is central to their concept of who they are.  For many of us, parenthood is one such role, but we were encouraged to consider professional roles, including the one role we all had in common: “professor” or “teacher.”  We were then asked to think back to one of the first times that we thought of ourselves as being or fitting into that role.

The identities shared varied widely: lawyer, teacher, mentor, public servant, military officer, and parent, among others.  While the identities varied, the descriptions of the transformative moments that caused each of us to more fully assume that identity shared many characteristics.

Nearly all the incidents involved the awareness of significant responsibility for another.   Whether it was the moment that a new parent brought their babies home from the hospital to the moment that a new attorney found strangers in a courthouse lobby asking for help, there was a realization that others were depending on us.

For many, the incidents had a sense of permanence as well—that the shift in our sense of self was not a momentary impression but a moment of transformation.  This sense of movement might have been from outsider to insider, from observer to actor, or from one who follows to one who leads.

These moments often carried significant emotional weight as well.  They were challenging, frightening, exhilarating, or confusing, but never mundane.

The process of reflecting on this question and sharing the reflections helped us to better understand the process of professional identity formation and to think more deeply about how we might guide our students along this path.

First, the exercise emphasized that, for most of us, transformative moments in professional identity formation came from an experience of acting in the role.  That is not to say that formation never occurs in a classroom or in reading or listening, but transformative moments more often involve the emotional content that results from being given real responsibility to another.  This realization led to a discussion of how we could provide or capture more of these high-impact experiences for our students.

Second, the exercise demonstrated the power of reflection as a pedagogy for identity formation.  We saw that the process of reflection and discussion about identity and meaning were just as rigorous and had just as much impact as Socratic dialogue about the meaning of a legal doctrine.  Not only did the exercise require reflection, but for many of us the transformative moments we were describing also included reflection as an integral component.  “I remember thinking…” was a common phrase in the shared reflections.  We discussed how we could more regularly incorporate reflection into our work with our students.

For faculty who are looking for helpful exercises to explore the meaning and practice of professional identity formation, this simple question accompanied by reflection can serve as an invaluable tool.

Please email me at if you have any questions or comments.

Barbara Glesner Fines is the Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

Barbara Glesner FInes

Three Shifts in Thinking for Professional Identity Formation

By: Barbara Glesner Fines, Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law, UMKC School of Law

To help students through the professional identity formation process, and to fulfill the ABA accreditation standard, we as faculty members will need to shift our thinking about what it means to educate law students.  Three aspects of this process will require us to develop new competencies as educators.

Professional identity formation requires us to shift our stance from teacher to mentor/coach

The primary pedagogies for guiding students through the socialization process require faculty to engage students in reflection on their observations and experiences, and provide coaching and feedback on those reflections and the students’ plans for further development.  Conversation, as opposed to lecture or simulation, becomes the primary vehicle for this coaching and mentoring.  A far more personal and individualized approach to students is required to effectively guide students through formation.  This approach entails sharing control of learning with students rather than viewing our primary role as directing that learning.  We will not fully capture or guide the formation process unless we recognize that much of this process will be outside of our control; in fact, to be effective, it must be outside of our control.  To develop into self-directed lifelong learners (one central part of an attorney’s professional identity) students must be empowered to make choices about (1) finding opportunities for observation and experiences, (2) methods of reflection, and (3) seeking feedback on those experiences.

Professional identity formation requires us to shift our perception of where learning takes place

Law faculty spend a great deal of time focusing on the learning that occurs in the classroom and the clinic during the academic year.  However, students form their perceptions of what it means to be a lawyer from all aspects of their experiences during law school.  They learn about the role of professional peer relationships in their study groups, activities, and student organizations.  They learn about the relationships of attorneys to other professionals by observing the interactions between faculty and staff or between attorneys in the community and other professionals.  In so many other ways, professional formation takes place in the parts of the law school experience that have been characterized as the “hidden curriculum.”[1]  For faculty to effectively and intentionally guide students in their professional formation, we must recognize the opportunities for formative experiences that we otherwise think of as “outside” and “other.”  We can encourage students to seek these out and reflect on how these experiences have shaped their conception of themselves as attorneys.

Professional identity formation requires faculty to work together in building a meaningful program

The students’ experience-reflection-coaching cycle must occur over time and across activities.  As the ABA Interpretation 303-5 comments, “developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over time . . .  in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.”  Moreover, the process will necessarily be highly individualized, as each law student must not only develop themselves as professionals, but they must also integrate that identity into the many other identities that they carry.  Law faculty do not often approach their teaching (or research for that matter) as collaborations but as independent roles.[2]  Professional identity formation requires that we recognize that our work with individual students will be layered upon and integrated with the work of our colleagues.  That means we must work toward regular conversations and collaborations among the faculty about that work.  Rather than thinking about ourselves as individual faculty members guiding our group of students (one to many), we must work as a collective to build programs that guide each individual student on their separate journey (many to one).

Please email me at if you have any questions or comments about this post.

Barbara Glesner Fines is the Dean and Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

[1] David M. Moss, The Hidden Curriculum of Legal Education: Toward a Holistic Model for Reform, 2013 J. Disp. Resol. 19, 22 (attributing the concept to sociologist Philip Jackson).

[2] Christine Cerniglia Brown, Professional Identity Formation: Working Backwards to Move the Profession Forward, 61 Loy. L. Rev. 313, 318 (2015) (stating that “thoughtful curricular design highlights core values essential to professional identity formation; however, such a design requires a substantial amount of planning and collaboration among colleagues who may have different viewpoints”).