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Toni Jaeger-Fine

Toni Jaeger-Fine

Introducing the Second Edition of Toni Jaeger-Fine’s Becoming a Lawyer: Discovering and Defining Your Professional Persona (2023)

By: Toni Jaeger-Fine, Senior Counselor, Fordham Law School; Principal, Jaeger-Fine Consulting

Jaeger-Fine’s concept of the Legal Professional Persona refers to a set of attitudes and behaviors that enable success and flourishing in the profession. As legal educators, students, and professionals, we tend to focus on legal knowledge and technical skills to the exclusion of these attributes that comprise the professional persona. The touchstone of cultivating a strong and sustainable professional persona is intentionality, and the goal of this book is to make each of us more deliberate about how we develop and nurture our professional identity.

This second edition is the product of conversations with, and feedback from, hundreds of law students and legal professionals, and the author’s own lifelong journey toward building and refining her own professional persona.

The book is divided into three main parts, reflecting the pillar of the professional persona: fundamentals; self-management; and relationships.

Fundamentals introduces the concept of the professional persona and its importance, discusses the state of today’s legal profession, and identifies the building blocks of a professional persona. In particular, this part examines how we move through stages of competence, the need to create sustainable habits and tools for doing so, the primacy of social and emotional intelligence, and the importance of leadership as a mindset and general orientation rather than a matter of position in a hierarchy.

Self-management—professionalism from the inside—addresses a range of issues relating to mindset and dispositions (such as a positive mindset, commitment to excellence, and character), time management and organization, and well-being. This part also offers a practicaand mindset approach to a sustainable form of well-being.

Relationships—professionalism with the outside—considers working with others, which embraces among other things the importance of inclusive thinking and controlling our cognitive biases, effective communication, managing up and down, and business development and client management. This part also covers talent management, development, and retention, including how to accelerate diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, this part addresses ensuring that our public professional persona promotes our own professional identity, the goals of the institutions with which we are associated, and the profession more generally.

The book is eminently readable, and most chapters end with a series of questions for reflection, making this book readily adoptable for professional identity courses. Becoming a Lawyer: Discovering and Defining Your Professional Persona is available from West Academic or on Amazon. Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions or comments.