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Implementation Plan

Megan Bess

Goal Setting Across the Law School Experience: a Simple and Powerful Professional Identity Formation Tool

By: Megan Bess, Director of the Externship Program and Assistant Professor of Law,
University of Illinois Chicago School of Law

I have spent a good amount of time over the past few months reflecting on how to best incorporate professional identity formation in my teaching and across our law school’s curricular and extracurricular programming.  Like many of us, I wear many hats at my institution, some with easier connections to PIF than others. For instance, in my role overseeing externships I have been able to craft a curriculum centered on reflection, self-assessment, and professional identity formation. Nearly everything students do in their externship experience furthers the development of their professional identity. But when I teach a large section of Professional Responsibility, my interest and desire to incorporate professional identity formation often conflict with the pressures to cover as many Model Rules and PR concepts as I can. I have been asking myself which of the PIF-related activities I utilize in the externship program could I easily incorporate into other classes and activities. And then I had a realization: I can work goal setting into almost anything I teach.

More than three years into my role directing my school’s externship program I have now seen hundreds of student goals for their externship experiences. Many follow common themes of improving specific research and writing skills and participating in lawyering activities. Some of the best goals I have seen, however, demonstrate strong self-awareness and a desire to improve professional behaviors. For example, one student set a goal to develop a system to better manage their school, work, and personal obligations so that they could be more fully present in each rather than multi-tasking. I’ve seen students set goals for increasing and managing their physical and mental health or strengthening their understanding of, and connections to, their legal community.

While an externship, clinical, or other real-world lawyering experience easily lends itself to goal setting, I believe that students can and should be encouraged to set goals across their entire law school experience. Goal setting is especially powerful if introduced early in law school. For example, UIC Law has a one-credit required first-semester course, Expert Learning, that introduces students to study and exam-taking strategies, lawyering skills, resilience and mindset, and other professional skills and behaviors important for success in law school and in law practice. The course covers goal setting and requires students to set a goal for the course itself.

Goal setting empowers students to take charge of and responsibility for themselves and their experiences. Studies show that rigorous and specific goal setting correlates with higher performance.[1] And feelings of success in the workplace derive from pursuing and attaining meaningful goals.[2] In short, setting goals is a habit that will aid students in their legal careers. And the very act of setting goals requires some self-reflection that aids in professional identity formation.

Most students are familiar with the concept of goal setting. A popular framework is SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely). Encouraging students to set goals for the courses you teach and activities you oversee is a simple tool to encourage their reflection and self-assessment with a framework that is familiar to them.

The good news is that this can be incredibly easy to do. There are numerous goal setting lessons and resources available. When I first sought to incorporate goal setting in the externship program, a simple online search turned up numerous videos (I selected a simple SMART goal overview from LinkedIn Learning) and written materials. One of my favorites is this simple worksheet from Baylor University that explains SMART goal setting and walks the user through a goal setting process.

If you are worried about the labor required with providing feedback on student goals, consider asking students to share their goals with and elicit feedback from their peers. My students have shared that they enjoy this goal setting method. I give students time to brainstorm one goal and then have them share in small groups with instructions to offer suggestions for making the goal “SMARTer.” In my experience, law students are amenable to suggestions from their peers who are proud of themselves when they can offer helpful feedback to their classmates.

I can easily envision students setting goals related to course performance and grades. But we can encourage our students to think of goals from a broader perspective. Students can set goals for a course that relate to organizational skills, time management, study habits, understanding and applying course material in real-world context, the contributions they make to their group, and/or class participation. If we provide them some examples along these lines, then they will feel like they have permission to identify and work on these skills. Imagine the power we have to help students commit to and practice goal setting habits in as few as ten (10) minutes at the start of our courses.

If you have questions, comments, or ideas for improvement, please reach out to me at

Megan Bess is the Director of the Externship Program and Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law.

[1] Edwin A. Locke & Gary P. Latham, New Directions in Goal Setting Theory, 15 Current Directions in Psychological Science, 265-268 (2006).

[2] Barbara A. Blanco & Sande L. Buhai, Externship Field Supervision: Effective Techniques for Training Supervisors and Students, 10 Clinical L. Rev. 611, 642 (2004); Laurie Barron, Learning How to Learn: Carnegie’s Third Apprenticeship, 18 Clinical L. Rev. 101, 107 (2011).

Leah Teague

Baylor Law’s Professional Identity Formation History and the Influence of the Carnegie Report and the Holloran Center on Baylor Law’s Continual Professional Identity Formation Efforts

By: Leah Witcher Jackson Teague, Professor of Law & Director of Business Law Program and Leadership Development Program, Baylor Law School

Thanks to Robin Thorner, Assistant Dean, Office of Career Strategy, at St. Mary’s Law School, law faculty and staff interested in professional identity formation efforts gathered twice in the fall to converse. The next conversation is scheduled for this Thursday, January 26, at 3:00 p.m. Central using the following link via Zoom. I plan to join and hope you will too!

During the fall gatherings, a common request was for more information about law schools’ processes for addressing the recent amendments to ABA 303 and descriptions of programs, events, and activities. In this post, I offer some insight on the background for our work at Baylor Law and also thank the Holloran Center for encouraging us, and so many others, in our work in the areas of professional development and leadership development. In a future post, I will describe Baylor Law’s ongoing review process of our professional identity formation efforts in response to the amendments to ABA Standard 303.

At Baylor Law, professional identity formation efforts have been part of the fabric of our program throughout our 165-year history, but not by that name. As I recently wrote in a post, professional development and leadership development, in an informal manner, have been “baked” into our program from the beginning. Baylor Law’s mission statement expresses a desire to “develop lawyers who are able to practice law with competence, serve with compassion, and provide effective and ethical leadership.” We strive to prepare our students for the demands they will face as members of the legal profession. We also want them to be better equipped to use their legal education and training, along with their status in society as lawyers, to serve effectively and be difference makers.

Our approach to legal education (which incorporates legal analysis, practical lawyering skills, and professionalism) aligns with the scaffolding approach advocated in Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (more commonly referred to as the “Carnegie Report”). The Carnegie Report, published in 2007, described the three dimensions of professional education that are necessary to adequately prepare students for their careers and professional obligations. The three dimensions for legal education were described as:

  1. Critical thinking skills and legal knowledge that have been the traditional focus of law schools.
  2. Practice application and skills development through experiential education as mandated in the ABA Standards beginning approximately 2005.
  3. Professional identity formation 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.”

This scaffolding approach to legal education aligns perfectly with the practical, values-based, and service-oriented approach to legal education at Baylor Law. When the Carnegie Report came out in 2007, I admittedly did not give its findings and recommendations the attention it deserved, that is, not until hearing presentations and reading articles from our friends at the Holloran Center (specifically Co-Directors Neil Hamilton and Jerry Organ and Holloran Center Fellow Lou Bilionis) and others who devoted years to improving the professional development and ethical leadership of our law students.

Before meeting these dedicated teachers and scholars, we had already begun our own efforts at Baylor Law to enhance and incorporate more emphasis on professional identity formation and professional development of our students, including the creation of our Professional Development Program and Leadership Development Program in 2014. Validation that we were on the right track with our approach to legal education came for us in the fall of 2016 when Neil Hamilton and Lou Bilionis traveled to Waco, Texas to lead our Baylor Law faculty and staff in a workshop. The Holloran Center team complimented us on our multi-dimensional, multi-year approach. Baylor Law professors were encouraged to better communicate to our students the efforts already in place to teach and enforce professionalism. I offer my perspective of fundamental aspects of our approach to teaching and training Baylor Lawyers:

  • teach students to think like lawyers;
  • offer a variety of practical skills training opportunities;
  • require a rigorous practicum in the third year;
  • insist upon professionalism (work ethic, respect for one another, integrity, etc.) in all interactions inside and outside the classroom; and
  • encourage students to adopt a service orientation in their professional and personal endeavors.

The Holloran Center initiatives continued to inform and inspire our work in the summers of 2017 and 2019, when Baylor Law faculty and staff joined teams from other law schools to attend Holloran Center summer workshops. Again, we were encouraged to compose a description of our professionalism training that spans from orientation through graduation. As part of our work in response to the 303 amendments, we are making a conscious effort to do so. More detail of our work in this area will be shared in a future post.

The Holloran Center’s work on professional identity formation continues to influence and inspire us as we seek to improve and enhance the “whole building” approach (as described by Dean Emeritus Bilionis) to teaching, training, and inspiring Baylor law students. Thank you!

I am always happy to visit further with anyone who desires additional information. Feel free to reach out to me at

Leah Witcher Jackson Teague is the Professor of Law and Director of Business Law Programs at Baylor Law School.


Patrick Longan

Developing Professional Identity By Aligning Personal Values and Professional Life and Following the Four Steps of Discernment: Using A Distinguished Judge’s Life as a Guide

By: Pat Longan, William Augustus Bootle Chair in Professionalism and Ethics, Director of the Mercer Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, Mercer University School of Law

All of us who teach professional identity are constantly on the lookout for useful resources. A new book that you will find to be valuable is The Significant Lawyer: The Pursuit of Purpose and Professionalism, by the Honorable William S. Duffey, Jr. (Mercer University Press (2022)).

Judge Duffey comes to the topic of professional identity with long and varied experience in the law. He served in the Air Force JAG Corps, as a private practitioner for 22 years with King & Spalding, as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and as a United States District Judge. Judge Duffey has reflected deeply on his experiences in the profession and provides powerful insights into how lawyers can find meaning and satisfaction in their careers.

The central thesis of the book is that lawyers must align their lives in the law with their personal values. When lawyers allow their careers to become misaligned with their values, they sacrifice their integrity, with the result that they find themselves unhappy, even lost, in their professional lives. In Judge Duffey’s experience, such misalignment is all too common. For lawyers in private practice, especially at the large law firms whose “profits-per-partner” metrics are routinely published, Judge Duffey blames the misalignment on the pivot of law firms away from service toward the pursuit of more and more profit.

In his reflections, Judge Duffey does not spare himself. For example, he notes that one of his personal values is not to be overly concerned with money or status. He describes how he and his wife, acting consistently with that value, resolved not to change their lifestyle when he became a partner. Yet soon he was driving a new BMW “partner kind of car” and moving to a new house. He had the self-awareness to know he was being pulled out of alignment by money and status. To try to counteract that tendency, and to put his professional life back into alignment with his personal values, one year he resolved not to compare his share of King & Spalding’s profits with those of his partners. He resolutely looked only at his own compensation and decided it was fair. A few days later, he succumbed to the temptation to know what the other partners made. Then his compensation seemed less fair. Judge Duffey found himself less satisfied when he kept score of his professional success by comparing his compensation to the compensation of others.

Judge Duffey also describes the effects of misalignment on his personal life. His personal values include deep love for his family. But when he had reached the litigation “fast lane” at King & Spalding, he realized that the priority he gave to his professional life had caused deterioration of his marriage and estrangement from his children. He carefully reviewed his calendars for the past few years and discovered to his surprise very few entries related to events with his family. Judge Duffey resolved to realign his professional life so that he could give “equal dignity” to his commitment to his family.

There came a point when Judge Duffey decided that he needed a change. Although the work at King & Spalding was complex and challenging, he found that his professional life was significantly misaligned with his personal values. He made the courageous decision to leave a lucrative private practice for public service. As he writes, he then found his professional life to be “abundantly satisfying.”

Judge Duffey’s book is an excellent primer on the cultivation of a healthy professional identity. When we teach our students about professional identity, we ask them to take four steps of discernment. Judge Duffey’s story illustrates all four.

First, students need to reflect on their personal values and motivations and define their personal ethos. One cannot align one’s personal values with professional practice without knowing what those personal values are. Taking the time to reflect is far too rare these days. It takes effort, self-awareness, honesty, and humility. Judge Duffey is an inspiration in this regard. As his book reveals, he is a deeply introspective man who has throughout his life regularly examined and reexamined his most important beliefs and values.

The second step of discernment is to question whether one’s personal values and motivations are likely to be associated with happiness. Not all personal values are created equal. Positive psychology has shown that work that is done for intrinsic rewards rather than extrinsic ones is more likely to yield satisfaction. One is intrinsically motivated to engage in activities that are fulfilling for their own sake or that serve a fundamental purpose. Extrinsic motivations seek rewards that are external to the activity, such as the money one earns for it. Judge Duffey appears to have learned this lesson early in life. As he describes his personal values, over and over he writes about things that are intrinsically rather than extrinsically rewarding. He notes that what he enjoyed about his high-stakes civil litigation private practice was that it was complex and challenging. That is an intrinsic reward of that type of work. When Judge Duffey writes of the rewards of service as a prosecutor or a judge, he describes the fulfillment of fundamental purposes such as fairness and justice. Despite his honest descriptions of the allure of money, status, and power, Judge Duffey never adopted those extrinsic values as his own.

I should note in this regard that Judge Duffey does not contend that lawyers should not seek material success. There is nothing inherently wrong with prosperity. Especially at this time of year, I am reminded of one exchange in the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey, desperate because his Uncle Billy has lost $8,000, hears from his guardian angel that they don’t use money in heaven. George’s response is, “Comes in pretty handy down here, bub. I found it out a little late.” Money does come in handy, and material success is not inconsistent with a meaningful life in the profession. Judge Duffey makes that point several times. But when an extrinsic motivation such as the accumulation of money predominates over intrinsic ones, the lawyer is on a path to dissatisfaction in the law and in life. Law students need to appreciate that. It is not obvious, or even intuitive, but Judge Duffey somehow internalized that lesson early in life.

The third step of discernment is to consider how one’s personal values can be integrated with the non-negotiable norms of the legal profession. It is necessary, but not enough, for lawyers to be able to say that their personal values align perfectly with how they practice law. But what if those values and the conduct that flows from them violate the shared values of the profession? For example, imagine a young lawyer whose personal values include winning at all costs; that goal might be served by ignoring the rules of conduct. Cheaters sometimes win. That lawyer would enjoy a perfect alignment of personal values with his mode of practice, yet of course it is unacceptable. The legal profession exists to serve public purposes and not just the happiness of its members. Judge Duffey’s book shows a deep appreciation for the shared values of the profession. He writes about the eight oaths he has taken over the course of his career. Judge Duffey understands, and appears always to have understood, that lawyers must align their conduct not just to personal values but also to professional standards.

The fourth step of discernment is for lawyers to find the place in the law where their values and the practice can align. No one is born knowing what it is like to be a lawyer in different parts of the profession or how to conduct oneself in all contexts to align personal and professional values. Judge Duffey’s book helps here in several respects. First, he describes his wide range of experiences in the law and provides insights for his readers about life as a prosecutor, a big firm litigator, and a judge. He also relates how the lives of lawyers he has known sharpened his understanding of how to be a happy and successful lawyer. I am pleased to report that two of the lawyers he describes—Griffin Bell and Frank Jones—were proud alums of the Mercer University Law School. More generally, those passages of the book alert law students and young lawyers to the importance of role models and mentors as they find their places in the profession.

This spring, for the 20th year, all first-year Mercer Law students will take a course on professional identity. A generous alum has purchased copies of Judge Duffey’s book for all those students, and we will be using the book in the course. Judge Duffey has made a major contribution to the emerging field of professional identity instruction in law schools, and I commend his book to all readers of this blog. You will find it, as I did, both instructive and inspirational.

Should have you any questions or comments about this post, please contact me at

Patrick Longan is the William Augustus Bootle Chair in Ethics and Professionalism in the Practice of Law at Mercer University School of Law and is Director of the Mercer Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism.

Janet Stearns

Insights From the Field Concerning Well-Being and Anti-Racism

By: Janet Stearns, Dean of Students, University of Miami School of Law

2022 has been an eventful year. If you are like me, you may be focusing on completing critical year-end projects and starting to set your New Year’s resolutions. One of my ongoing objectives for the New Year, as it relates to professional identity work, is finding critical synergies between (1) the mental health and well-being agenda and (2) the diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda. Some mistakenly tend to consider these in separate silos rather than embracing the complex duality of these pillars of our professional identity agenda.

I invite you to read, or perhaps reread, an article I published in January 2022 for the AALS Student Services Publication Insights from the Field. My article speaks to some specific experiences from the 2020-2021 school year in programming at the intersection of law students’ well-being and diversity initiatives. This publication, under the guidance of Student Services Chair Maria Saez-Tatman (University of Tennessee College of Law) and Current-Elect Chair Jeffrey Dodge (The Pennsylvania State University-Dickinson Law), includes a number of provocative articles from my colleagues, with a particular focus on an anti-racist agenda in law schools.

Wishing you all a peaceful and joyful holiday season!

Please feel free to reach out to me at if you have any questions or comments.

Janet Stearns is Dean of Students at the University of Miami School of Law and Chair of the ABA COLAP Law School Committee.

David Grenardo

A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Holloran Center that Provides Guidance to All Law Schools Implementing Professional Identity Formation

By: David A. Grenardo, Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, University of St. Thomas School of Law

Ever since I attended my first Holloran Center Workshop in 2016 and read the powerful materials provided by Neil Hamilton and Jerry Organ, I always wondered how those two operated the Holloran Center. What were they doing at their own law school to implement professional identity since they were the ones giving others ideas of how to do so? What were their personalities like given their considerable influence and impact in legal education?

After joining the University of St. Thomas School of Law and the Holloran Center as its Associate Director this past fall, I can finally answer these questions and share those answers with you. The answers provide an incredible amount of knowledge and wisdom that any law school can use to implement professional identity formation for its students.

Raw Self-Reflection

Professional identity entails continuous self-reflection that allows law students to develop into the professionals they can and want to become. Neil and Jerry strongly encourage this aspect of professional identity for students, and they demonstrate it themselves.

The University of St. Thomas School of Law requires that all 1Ls take three one-credit classes, Moral Reasoning for Lawyers (MRFL), Serving Clients Well, and Business Basics. The concept of professional identity is introduced and reinforced in these courses, particularly MRFL and Serving Clients Well. When St. Thomas Law first introduced some of these ideas, they were included in one three-credit course, Foundations of Justice (Foundations). The three-credit course format was not well received by students. Jerry spearheaded efforts to improve each part of the course, which included commissioning a focus group of students who previously took Foundations to learn what the class did well and not so well.  Those conversations resulted in splitting Foundations into two courses— MRFL (one credit) in the fall and Foundations of Justice (two credits) in the spring. Eventually, the two-credit Foundations of Justice course in the spring also was divided and renamed Serving Clients Well (SCW) and Business Basics (BB) to give students exposure to client-service competencies they will need to be successful in practice.

I am now part of this evolutionary process myself as we revisit the design/implementation of the BB course, which I will co-teach with Jerry. Despite being an accomplished and elite teaching professor and scholar, Jerry once again has invited students to share their concerns about the design and content of the course, which has generated some brutal honesty from the students. Jerry has taken the critique and reflected on his own execution and design of the class. We are presently redesigning the class to make it more effective and to engage students where they are.

I also have witnessed Jerry’s and Neil’s honest self-reflection in our weekly Holloran Center meetings where they admit something could have been done better or acknowledge something went well. The vulnerability and candor in which they approach their own self-reflection allow them to truly understand and see where improvements can be made and success has been achieved. This leads to my next observation – they exhibit a growth mindset.

We Will Continuously Try New Things, and When We Fail, Which is Good, We Will Make Them Better

I sometimes feel like I am in the middle of the “Meet the Robinsons” Disney movie when I am working with Neil and Jerry. In that movie, the great inventor, genius, and orphan Lewis goes into the future as a young boy and unknowingly meets his eventual family. As he attempts one of his inventions, it fails horrendously and his future family cheers and congratulates him, “You have failed! From failure we learn, from success. . . not so much.” With Neil and Jerry, there is a humble joy in them when they speak of attempts at implementing professional identity with little or no success. Each of them will say something like, “We tried, but it didn’t work the way we expected or not at all.” They make statements like these without remorse or regret; instead, they do so with humility, pride, and hope. They would probably not call their efforts failures, but instead would likely characterize their attempts as Thomas Edison did, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

They attempt new things knowing that they will not be perfect and actively seek out ways to improve what they have done.

The tinkering and re-jiggering of MRFL, SCW, and BB, led to the inclusion of Roadmap into SCW. Now SCW includes one-on-one coaching of students in January and February of the 1L year using the Roadmap in SCW.

Roadmap, for the uninitiated, is a book written by Neil Hamilton that guides a law student “to prepare and implement a successful plan for meaningful employment.” Neil won the prestigious E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award from the ABA in 2015 based on the Roadmap and his efforts to improve professionalism in the legal profession. Neil is currently finishing up the third edition of the book to make it even more accessible and helpful to law students. The revised Roadmap will be ready for students to utilize this spring in SCW.

Over the last two decades, Jerry and Neil also have played a role in developing and implementing the classroom component associated with the law school’s distinctive Mentor Externship program in which all law students have a mentor for each of their three years in law school. A law student can change mentors during that time, but each law student is guaranteed a mentor throughout every year of law school. This program has also evolved and changed over time to better meet the needs of our students.  Presently, in the second year and third year, there is a classroom component with students earning one pass/fail credit in each year. The classroom component involves both small group conversations and also one-on-one coaching with each student three times over the course of the academic year. The Mentor Externship program includes a good deal of professional identity formation, such as self-reflections by the students based on the work they do and their experiences in the program. In addition, each student must develop a networking plan designed to support the individual student’s professional development as reflected in the student’s work with Roadmap.

Neil, through trial and error, even added coaches to his Professional Responsibility course. Now, his class not only teaches the basics of what law students need to understand and apply the rules of professional conduct, but it also explores aspects of professional identity formation as students learn from local practitioners.

Whatever Neil and Jerry do (or try to do), their focus is always on the students—learning about where the students are and searching for the most effective ways to help each student grow. Their thoughtful and creative approach entails a constant loop that involves trying something, seeking feedback, reflecting, improving the exercise, lesson, or class, and then repeating those steps.

Whole-Building Approach

Neil and Jerry have been working for several years towards a whole-building approach to professional identity. They preach it to other law schools, and they are living it out themselves. They have been working diligently to create a “one file” system that allows many departments of the law school to add feedback and notes on each student. The Roadmap coaches from SCW, Mentor Externship professors, the Office of Career & Professional Development (CPD), and Lawyering Skills (aka legal research and writing at some law schools) professors would each add their notes, thoughts, and work relating to professional identity formation into a file for each student so that when faculty or staff meet with students they could see the evolution of the student’s professional identity and the student’s professional development plans over the course of law school.

In particular, Jerry and Neil worked with our law library and IT experts to create a “one file” system that is scheduled to begin operation next semester, starting with the Roadmap and the Roadmap coach observations that will go into that file for each student. Jerry and Neil believe that we will be able to train the 2L and 3L Mentor Externship faculty on how to use the “one file” system by contributing their observations on professional identity formation learning outcomes into an efficient form for gathering insights after each of the six one-on-one meetings that occur throughout the 2L and 3L years. Additionally, notes from the one-on-one meetings with CPD staff will also be added to each student’s file. Neil and Jerry also plan on providing our required curriculum colleagues with some positive and reinforcing language on professional identity to cross-sell the value of these professional identity formation efforts to the students.

Planting Seeds

Jerry and Neil are always anticipating the needs of law students and law schools in the future. They look ahead to try to bridge the gap between what will be needed and what is currently offered. The Holloran Center’s next step will be hosting a symposium/workshop in the spring of 2023 in conjunction with casebook publishers focused on 1L and Professional Responsibility casebook authors (and possibly law professor adopters of those casebooks). It will be the first time the Holloran Center intentionally seeks out casebook authors and 1L/Professional Responsibility professors to convene in a single setting where they can learn, share, and generate ways to help law students develop their own professional identities within these required courses.

Neil and Jerry have done so much amazing work in the legal academy and professional identity formation in particular. I continue to learn from their fearlessness, humility, optimism, and apparent clairvoyance. Even though I was their twentieth choice to serve as Associate Director—I was actually their tenth—I feel honored and humbled to serve alongside them as they continue their phenomenal work.

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

Neil Hamilton

The Profession Has Core Values the Students Can Explore in Guided Reflection

By: Neil Hamilton, Holloran Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, University of St. Thomas School of Law

Accreditation Standard 303(b) asks legal educators, including faculty and staff, to engage students in “an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice.”  Some legal educators may be asking whether the profession has core values and guiding principles and whether the new standard requires imposing these values and principles on our students.  This essay focuses first on what are the core values and guiding principles of the legal profession?  The essay then turns to a second question of how most effectively to engage students in an intentional exploration of the core values and guiding principles.

What are the legal profession’s core values and guiding principles?

In my experience, many legal educators have not done an in-depth exploration leading to a clear definition of the core values and guiding principles of our profession.  They are in fact living into a set of professional values and guiding principles, but it may be challenging to write them down.  The values and principles may seem inchoate initially when written down.  This exploration was not part of our law school experience.

Reflecting on my own law school experience many years ago, I remember that the major core value modeled in every course was that I should strive to become a craftsperson of the law, demonstrating the highest level of all the technical skills of being a lawyer, as my professors both modeled and asked me to demonstrate.  I don’t remember any discussion or guided reflection on this or other core values.

I think many legal educators today, especially in experiential education, engage students on core professional values and principles, but my experience is that few law schools as a community of practice together have reflected on, discussed, and agreed upon the core values and guiding principles of that school’s community of practice.  Standard 303(b) is inviting the faculty and staff of each law school to engage collegially in intentional exploration of that community of practice’s understanding and definition of the core values and guiding principles of the profession.

As a starting place for this collegial intentional exploration of the core values and guiding principles of the profession, the Holloran Center has synthesized a succinct definition from the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the four major reports on professionalism from the ABA and the Conference of Chief Justices, and Holloran Center research.[1]  There are two foundational core values that law students and lawyers must understand, internalize, and demonstrate:

  1. a deep responsibility and commitment to serving clients, the profession, and the rule of law;
  2. a commitment to pro-active continuous professional development toward excellence at all the competencies needed to serve others well in the profession’s work.

These are the same foundational core values for all of the peer-review professions, such as medicine, nursing, and engineering.[2]

For a longer definition of the profession’s core values and guiding principles, Holloran Center borrowed directly from the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, adopted by all 50 states.

Law students and lawyers should understand, internalize, and demonstrate:

  1. a deep responsibility and service orientation to others, especially the client, whom the student serves in widening circles as the student matures including a commitment to:
    • zealously protecting and pursuing a client’s interests within the bounds of the law while demonstrating respect for the legal system and a courteous and civil attitude toward all persons involved in the legal system;
    • improving the law, providing pro bono service to the disadvantaged, developing cultural competence, and promoting a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law;[i]
    • developing and being guided by personal conscience—including the exercise of “sensitive professional and moral judgment” and the conduct of an “ethical person”—when deciding all the “difficult issues of professional discretion” that arise in the practice of law; and
    • developing independent professional judgment, including moral and ethical considerations, to help the client think through decisions that affect others;
  1. pro-active continuous professional development toward excellence at all the competencies needed to serve others in the profession’s work well; and
  2. compliance with the minimum standards of competency and ethical conduct in the Rules of Professional Conduct.

How do we most effectively engage students in an intentional exploration of these core values and guiding principles?

New Interpretation 303-5 emphasizes two of the most important curricular principles to engage students in an intentional exploration of these core values and guiding principles.

  1. Each student should have frequent opportunities for reflection on these core values and principles in courses and co-curricular and professional development activities; and
  2. Each student’s growth toward later stages of development regarding these core values and guiding principles will occur over time.

My earlier blog post on the Standard 303 revisions emphasized that the new standards require law schools to move toward a coordinated progression of guided reflection modules in the curriculum to foster each student’s growth in exploring these core values and principles.

Law Student Professional Development and Formation: Bridging Law School, Student, and Employer Goals (2022) outlines eight additional curricular principles that will foster each student’s exploration of these core values and principles.

The core values and principles discussed in this document come directly from the legal profession’s own rules of conduct, studies conducted of lawyers, and extensive research regarding the values and principles exhibited in the legal profession.  It is important to understand that professional identity formation does not involve legal educators “instilling” or “inculcating” these core values and principles into students.  Rather, professional identity formation entails explicitly and intentionally identifying and sharing these values and principles with law students.  Each student then engages in an exploration of and guided reflection upon the core values and guiding principles of the profession that lead to successful legal practice. It is a life-long exploration for each lawyer.

If you have any questions or comments about this post, then please contact me at

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.

[1] See William Sullivan et al, EDUCATING LAWYERS: PREPARATION FOR THE PROFESSION OF LAW 128-40 (2007); Neil Hamilton, Professionalism Clearly Defined, 18 THE PROF. LAWYER 4-20 (No. 4, 2008); Neil Hamilton, Assessing Professionalism: Measuring Progress in the Formation of an Ethical Professional Identity, 5 U. ST. THOMAS L.J. 470,482-83 (2008); Neil Hamilton, Fostering Professional Formation (Professionalism): Lessons From Carnegie Foundation’s Five Studies on Educating Professionals, 45 CREIGHTON L.R. 763-97 (2012).

[2] See Neil Hamilton, The Core Values of the Service Professions and an Effective Curriculum to Help Students Internalize Them, in EDUCATING ETHICS ACROSS THE PROFESSIONS: A COMPENDIUM OF RESEARCH, THEORY, PRACTICE, AND AN AGENDA FOR THE FUTURE (R. Jacobs ed., 2022).

[3] Note that new interpretation 303-6 provides that the core values and responsibilities of the profession should include the importance of cross-cultural competence and the obligation of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law.

Janet Stearns

Teaching “Reflection & Growth” Through Mindfulness

By: Janet Stearns, Dean of Students, University of Miami School of Law

In this past year, I enjoyed some significant opportunities to advocate, negotiate, and study the new ABA standards. I return often to the text and context of the Standards and interpretations and consider how this language is challenging us in our critical roles in law schools today. In review, the comment to Standard 303 guides us:

The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice. Because developing a professional identity requires reflection and growth over time, students should have frequent opportunities for such development during each year of law school and  in a variety of courses and co-curricular and professional development activities.(emphasis added).

How do we teach the foundational skills of ‘reflection and growth” as part of well-being practices in law school? One very significant contribution to answering this question is through the teaching of Mindfulness in law schools.

My colleague and friend Professor Scott Rogers has written a fabulous and important resource—The Mindful Law Student: A Mindfulness in Law Practice Guide. Scott serves as Lecturer in Law and Director of University of Miami School of Law’s Mindfulness in Law Program and Co-Director of the University of Miami’s Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative. Scott is also a co-president of the national non-profit Mindfulness in Law Society. Scott has spent more than a decade collaborating on peer-reviewed neuroscience research assessing the efficacy of mindfulness training and shares a series of core practices that have been part of this research and are among those found in many well-respected mindfulness training programs. This Practice Guide was published in September by Edward Elgar publishing and is thus a very new tool in our toolbox for teaching mindfulness.

Overview: The Mindful Law Student

The Mindful Law Student is both profound and concise. The materials build upon Scott’s teaching at the University of Miami for the past 15 years. I have been blessed to have a “front row seat” and observe the evolution of Scott’s teaching from his first arrival at Miami Law. Having seen and heard many of his presentations over this time, I was tremendously impressed by Scott’s ability to pull together this complex body of work into such a focused and readable text.

The book is divided into three parts, each consisting of 5 chapters. The first part is called “Mindfulness Elements” and includes a discussion of Leadership, Attention, Relaxation, Awareness, and Mindfulness.  This material is foundational and elucidates the relevance of this topic to every aspect of our personal and professional lives. Part II is “Mindfulness and You” and features specific strategies relating to Solitude, Connection, Self-Care, Movement, and Practice. As Scott tells us:

The chapters in Part II can be read in any order, and you may find them to be useful interludes that complement the readings in Part I.

(I will admit that I read them “in order” the first time but see the opportunities to return to them in different orders, and that this would be welcoming to students.)

Part III, Mindfulness Integrations, raises our awareness of the ways that Mindfulness can affect our lawyering in the areas of Listening, Negotiation, Judgment, Creativity, and Freedom. This section included some very significant “aha” moments for me. For example, in Chapter 11 on Listening, Scott talks about the tendency of lawyers (and physicians) to interrupt their clients and patients. He then offers very specific guidance on how to transition to a mindful listener. Chapter 12 on Negotiation highlights the value of mindful attention to understand better our counterparties and moving beyond self-centered thinking to productive negotiation strategies. Returning to our main theme of professional identity, Part III makes clear the integral role of a mindfulness and reflective practice in performing key elements of our work as lawyers.

Some Special Gems in The Mindful Law Student

Each chapter skillfully integrates scholarship and key teachings on Mindfulness with elements that make this particularly accessible to law students. For one, Scott features seven fictional, diverse law students who face academic and professional challenges and find a pathway for Mindfulness to assist each of them. Each chapter also includes some insightful visualizations and images that capture main concepts. As a visual learner myself, I find these images particularly captivating. Scott is most adept with his key “metaphors”—a reader of the book will quickly understand the images of the flashlight (of attention), the snow globe (of life’s confusing moments), the lightbulb (for awareness), and the spirals (of over-reaction). These images return throughout the book.

Most chapters introduce readers to a different mindfulness practice that connects to that chapter’s subject matter.  A website for the book offers a series of 6-, 12-, and 18-minute versions of each practice, which students can also access via a free app. Scott provides access to practice scripts for those faculty who may wish to offer live guidance in class.

The text skillfully integrates the teachings of many great thinkers, from Rumi and Buddhist devotees to musicians like Herbie Hancock and Supertramp, from civil rights leaders like W. E. B. Du Bois to contemporary lawyers and judges who practice mindfulness.

The Mindful Law Student includes specific exercises and probing questions for meditation and self-reflection at the end of each chapter. Mindfulness requires practice and this is a practice guide. Each chapter also highlights key Trials and Takeaways, which are summaries of main concepts and areas for future work. Finally, each chapter has a concise but helpful list of references and resources for those who might want to dig deeper into any subject.

Chapter 14, “Creativity,” challenges the reader to connect with one’s creative soul through art and poetry. I felt the need to accept that challenge and take the “first step” on that “journey of a thousand miles.” The text discusses the Haiku structure, composed of three-line stanzas of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. I took the plunge, and so here I share my first mindful Haiku with you, inviting our readers to consider your own creative endeavors.

Haiku #1

Powerful Law profs

Changing the world mind by mind

Moment by moment


Guiding law students

Capable of breath, thoughts, dreams

The key: mindfulness


Reflective lawyers

Navigating this world with



Strategies for Using The Mindful Law Student

This Practice Guide can be integrated in a number of productive ways into the law school experience of teaching professional identity. Some options might include:

-A stand-alone course on Mindfulness. The fifteen chapters would be a successful outline of a weekly course dedicated to exploring the practice and applications of Mindfulness in the Law.

-The book, at just over 200 pages, could be on a recommended summer reading list for new law students, and then form the basis for well-being and orientation programming.

-The sections of the text that focus on listening, negotiation, judgment (and ethics), leadership, and creativity could be part of courses that focus on these particular skills, or included in law clinics, externships, or other experiential learning classes where these skills are taught.

As we explore new curricular options and models around professional identity in 1L and upper-level courses, consider whether The Mindful Law Student would be an appropriate addition to your curriculum.

For More Information:

Contact Elgar Publishing for a copy of The Mindful Law Student so that you can consider strategies for integrating this practice guide into your professional identity teaching.

Other useful resources include:

Mindfulness in Law Society website:

UMindfulness at the University of Miami

Mindfulness in Law Program at the University of Miami School of Law

Please feel free to reach out to me at if you have any questions or comments.

Janet Stearns is Dean of Students at the University of Miami School of Law and Chair of the ABA COLAP Law School Committee.

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”).


Leah Teague

“The Difference Makers”: Professional Identity of Lawyers in America

By: Leah Witcher Jackson Teague, Professor of Law & Director of Business Law Programs, Baylor Law School

As law schools consider suitable approaches to professional identity formation, insight can be found in applicants’ personal statements. Many aspiring law students express a desire to “make a difference.” Students enter our law schools committed to using their time, talent, and efforts as lawyers to make a difference in the lives of clients or in their community or to have an impact that ripples throughout society. They want to solve problems for individuals who are less fortunate or to positively impact a larger group for the “greater good.” Law school personnel applaud those intentions for we know that lawyers are difference makers. It is part of our professional identity and our obligation to society. Shouldn’t law schools strive to equip and inspire law students to be difference makers?

The Preamble to the ABA Model Rules for Professional Conduct provides instruction about the role of lawyers in America: “A lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.” Lawyers have a special obligation to society as keepers of the rule of law and protectors of individual freedoms and rights. And as clients and organizations look to us for representation, guidance, and leadership, lawyers have the opportunity to address important issues that impact not only our nation but also the future of the legal profession. A law student’s journey to becoming an honorable member of this profession should include attention to these important issues and the role of lawyers in helping to secure our nation’s system of governance.

At Baylor Law, professional development and informal leadership development have always been woven into the education and training of every Baylor Law student. From the emphasis on service during the first day of orientation through our nationally-renowned third-year Practice Court program, Baylor Law faculty strive to develop individuals who will be prepared for the challenges of the legal profession and equipped to serve effectively. As a result, we proudly watch Baylor Lawyers serve their clients effectively and lead within the profession and throughout their communities.

In 2014, we implemented two programs to be more intentional about preparing our students to enter the profession as competent and prepared professionals who are ready to serve and lead. Both programs have been recognized by the ABA with its prestigious E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award. In 2018, our Practice Ready Professional Development Program received the Gambrell award. This past August, Baylor Law’s innovative Leadership Development Program was honored with the recognition.

In future posts we will provide more details about recent changes to our professional identity formation efforts, including the expansion of our Professional Development Program. Through our required Professional Development Program, students must attend 21 professional development training sessions (60 to 90 minutes each). Some are mandatory, but most are not, giving students options from a wide variety of subjects. We offer between 6 and 10 sessions each of our four academic terms per year to provide students with a selection of topics that are aligned with their career aspirations.

Our Leadership Development Program focuses on professional competencies and skills that better prepare students for the challenges that await them after graduation and that better equip them for the important roles they will assume as they enter our noble profession. The objectives of the Leadership Development Program are to encourage and assist law students to:

  1. Embrace their professional identity as they serve clients and society;
  2. Develop competencies and skills to succeed; and
  3. Boldly seek opportunities to make a difference in the profession, their communities, and the world.

We want to help them become their best self and reach their potential. Throughout their time at Baylor, we strive to introduce students to values-based professional development and leadership development concepts that provide the means to be more effective difference makers by helping them:

  • better understand their talents and shortcomings;
  • garner courage to make course corrections as appropriate;
  • improve their professional skills;
  • make decisions guided by ethics and values;
  • embrace failure as opportunities for growth;
  • value differences when working with others;
  • build stronger, productive working relationships with others;
  • think strategically and imagine possibilities;
  • prioritize wellness for themselves and others; and
  • seek to add value wherever they go.

Even before the new requirements in the amendments to ABA Standard 303(b) we sought to address the professional identity formation of our law students. The recent amendments provided an opportunity to consider further enhancements to our program. We look forward to sharing our progress with you in future posts.

Thanks to each of you for your good efforts! I know the work can be challenging and the progress dilatory, but I am so encouraged by all the consequential work occurring throughout legal education

For more information, please feel free to reach out to me at

Leah Witcher Jackson Teague is the Professor of Law and Director of Business Law Programs at Baylor Law School.

David Grenardo

Creating an Upper-Level Course to Comply with the Revised ABA Standards

By: David A. Grenardo, Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, University of St. Thomas School of Law

The revised ABA standards mandate that law schools provide substantial opportunities for their law students to develop their professional identities. Prior to the revised standards, some schools had already created mandatory 1L classes that entail some type of professional identity formation. The Holloran Center’s website lists schools with their corresponding classes that include professional formation or professional development, and the Holloran Center continues to add syllabi for each of those classes. The classes range from 0 credits to 8 credits.

Before joining the University of St. Thomas School of Law, I created and taught an upper-level course that intentionally and explicitly introduced the concepts of professional identity and professional identity formation. The overwhelming response from the students who took the class was extremely positive.

After attending one of the Holloran Center’s workshops in 2016, I came back to my law school at the time (St. Mary’s University School of Law) on fire with a determination to create a course that introduced professional identity to students and allowed students to develop their professional identities. I drafted a course proposal and submitted it to the faculty committee, but the class failed to obtain a majority of the committee’s approval. The full faculty did not approve the proposed course.

Four years later, I had gained a more thorough understanding of professional identity formation and decided to design another professional identity formation course. In creating the class, I spoke with law students to hear what they thought would be useful and interesting. For instance, as St. Mary’s is a Catholic and Marianist law school, I wanted to incorporate some basic Catholic principles and concepts, such as the Catholic Social Teachings, and the origins of the Marianist Order, to help students discover how those concepts and information might be incorporated into their own approach to the law. The students thought that idea was good, but they strongly suggested that a survey of the major spiritual traditions would provide broader perspectives on how to approach life as an individual and a professional. As a result, I added an entire section to discuss the basic history and tenets of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and secular spirituality. I also added a writing assignment in which students wrote about how two different faith traditions would approach a current legal issue. Adding this section resulted in three major effects:

1) students gained an appreciation of other spiritual traditions and examined how they could incorporate some of those traditions’ teachings into their own lives;

2) students learned about the vast similarities between the different faith traditions; and

3) learning about other types of spiritual traditions enhanced the students’ cross-cultural competency.

That writing assignment should also help students understand the different viewpoints that clients and team members may bring when they work with others. One student specifically mentioned that he had no idea how similar Islam and Catholicism are until he took this class, and he was disavowed of a number of negative stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam that were promulgated through movies he had seen.

The course description in the course proposal I submitted, which was approved by both the curriculum committee and later the faculty, stated the following:

Course Description:

This course enables law students to identify characteristics important to being good lawyers and characteristics employers of all kinds are looking for in graduating law students. Law students will also explore ethical and moral dilemmas through inter-faith discussions that will allow them to continue to develop their own moral compasses and professional identities. In particular, faculty and practitioners of different faith traditions and value systems (e.g., Catholic, Jewish, Buddhism, Muslim, atheism, etc.) will work through ethical and moral situations faced by lawyers and share how their particular faith or value-system affects their decision-making. Students will also examine how their own faith traditions, as well as the Catholic and Marianist traditions, apply to their own practice of law and to current legal issues today, such as women’s rights, LGBTQ+ issues, environmental justice, the death penalty, immigrant justice, racial injustice, and social justice. Finally, the class will encourage students to see the practice of law as a calling and their vocation, which will help in their search for meaningful employment that allows them to make a living, serve others, and find joy.

The grades were based entirely on papers regarding, among other things, reflections on what type of lawyers they wanted to be, how they would fulfill all of their vocations (e.g., as lawyer, spouse, sibling, daughter/son, friend) as professionals, and how they changed in law school for better and/or for worse. Several additional writing assignments, including drafting a eulogy for themselves (an exercise I borrowed from Neil Hamilton’s Ethical Leadership in Organizations class) and interviewing a lawyer about one of their dream jobs, are described in the edited syllabus for this class (see below).

I also invited a number of graduates to speak to the class. The guest speakers included a judge and lawyers who practiced in a variety of areas, such as Big Law and solo practitioners. After a couple of guest speakers talked about finishing near or at the top of the class, the class requested a speaker who did not finish near the top of the class yet enjoyed a successful legal career. I obliged, and the students truly appreciated that speaker and all of the speakers they heard.

The last day of class we went on a retreat off campus at Tecaboca, a retreat facility just outside of the city of San Antonio. During the four-hour retreat, we talked about the class, and I also gave them time to reflect on their own, with others, and ultimately write a letter to their future self in five years. We enjoyed lunch together as well. Some of the students said it was their most meaningful and memorable experience of law school. It was a moving and powerful experience for me, too, as I felt connected to these students and their professional identity development.

A common theme in the students’ reaction to the class was that the class should be mandatory for all students (although the experience/dynamic would be different if the class was required rather than elective). The law students expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to engage in self-reflection and to explore what areas of law they would most enjoy and what would bring them joy during and after their legal careers.

Below is an edited syllabus of the class that does not include university and class policy language regarding attendance, laptops, accommodations, etc. The edited syllabus below is also attached here.

Should you have any questions or comments about the course, please email me at

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.



By the end of the course you will:

  1. Understand that the legal profession is a vocation, identify your gifts and talents, and analyze the places where you likely fit into the legal profession based on your own talents and passion.
  2. Understand the characteristics and traits that make up an excellent law student and lawyer, and analyze how you can improve in those areas.
  3. Identify the ethical and moral dilemmas that you may face as a lawyer, and continue to develop your own moral compasses by analyzing how you would respond to those dilemmas.
  4. Identify the key aspects of the Marianist origin and traditions, as well as your own faith tradition, and analyze how you can incorporate aspects of the Marianist origin and traditions and your own faith tradition into your life and career.
  5. Understand the Catholic and Marianist traditions, particularly the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Catholic Social Teachings, and apply those traditions and other faith traditions to your practice of law and to a current legal issue today such as women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ issues, environmental justice, the death penalty, immigrant justice, racial injustice, and social justice.


The required text for this class is The Formation of Professional Identity: The Path From Student to Lawyer by Patrick Emery Longan, Daisy Hurst Floyd, and Timothy W. Floyd. Moreover, there will be classroom handouts and materials (many are listed below in the Assignments section) made available on Canvas that will supplement the source material.



Unit I: Vocation and Professional Identity Formation

Class: Vocation
Readings: Susan J. Stabile, The Practice of Law as Response to God’s Call, 32 Seattle U. L. Rev. 389 (2009);
Pages 365-371, 391-395, and 400-403 from Jerry Organ, From Those to Whom Much Has Been Given, Much Is Expected: Vocation, Catholic Social Teaching, and the Culture of a Catholic Law School, 1 J. Cath. Soc. Thought 361 (2004)

Class: Exploring Vocation and Exemplary Law Student and Lawyer Characteristics
Reading: Neil Hamilton, Connecting Prospective Law Students’ Goals To The Competencies That Clients And Legal Employers Need To Achieve More Competent Graduates And Stronger Applicant Pools And Employment Outcomes, 9 St. Mary’s J. Legal Mal. & Ethics 260 (2019)

Class: Exploring Vocation and Exemplary Law Student and Lawyer Characteristics Continued

Readings: Lawrence S. Krieger & Kennon M. Sheldon, What Makes Lawyers Happy? A DataDriven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success, 83 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 554 (2015);
14 Questions from Neil W. Hamilton’s Roadmap: The Law Student’s Guide to Meaningful Employment, 2d ed., American Bar Association, 2018

Class: Professional Identity Formation, Introduction and Overview, Motivation
Reading: Excerpts from The Formation of Professional Identity: The Path from Student to Lawyer by Patrick Emery Longan, Daisy Hurst Floyd, and Timothy W. Floyd, 2020

Class: Professional Identity Formation, Competence, Fidelity to the Client
Reading: Excerpts from The Formation of Professional Identity: The Path from Student to Lawyer by Patrick Emery Longan, Daisy Hurst Floyd, and Timothy W. Floyd, 2020

Class: Professional Identity Formation, Fidelity to the Law, Public Spiritedness
Reading: Excerpts from The Formation of Professional Identity: The Path from Student to Lawyer by Patrick Emery Longan, Daisy Hurst Floyd, and Timothy W. Floyd, 2020

Class: Professional Identity Formation, Civility, Practical Wisdom, Future of Legal Profession
Reading: Excerpts from The Formation of Professional Identity: The Path from Student to Lawyer by Patrick Emery Longan, Daisy Hurst Floyd, and Timothy W. Floyd, 2020

Class: Interview with a Practicing Lawyer
Assignment: outside of class students will interview a lawyer or individual who has one of the law student’s dream jobs

Unit II: Learning From the Wisdom Traditions

Class: Jewish Spirituality
Reading: Spirituality: A Guide for the Perplexed by Philip Sheldrake

Class: Christian Spirituality

Reading: Spirituality: A Guide for the Perplexed by Philip Sheldrake

Class: Muslim Spirituality
Reading: Spirituality: A Guide for the Perplexed by Philip Sheldrake

Class: Hindu Spirituality

Reading: Spirituality: A Guide for the Perplexed by Philip Sheldrake

Class: Buddhist Spirituality
Reading: Spirituality: A Guide for the Perplexed by Philip Sheldrake

Class: Secular Spirituality
Reading: Spirituality: A Guide for the Perplexed by Philip Sheldrake

Unit III: Catholic & Marianist Traditions

Class: Introduction to the Catholic Intellectual Tradition
Readings: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: Core Principles for the College or University, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, 2017;

The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: A Conversation at Boston College, 2010;

Pages 403-412 from John M. Breen, Justice and Legal Education: A Critique, 36 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 383 (2005)

Class: Catholic Social Teaching
Reading: Pages 113-165 from SJ Thomas Massaro, Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action, 2000

Class: Introduction to the Marianist Tradition
Reading: Excerpts from John Habjan, S.M., Society of Mary: Marianists, Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, Vol. 11, No. 2, December 2007, 198-217, University of Notre Dame

Class: Marianists and Higher Education
Reading: Characteristics of Marianist Universities, Association of Marianist Universities, Chaminade University, St. Mary’s University, University of Dayton, 2019;

Reading: David A. Grenardo, Marianist Law Schools: Demonstrating the Courage to be Catholic, 60 J. Cath. Legal Stud. (2022 Forthcoming)

Class: Retreat
Reading: Excerpts from William L. Droel, The Spirituality of Work: Lawyers, 1989


Final grades will be based on the completion of journal entries (70%), a short paper regarding a current legal topic analyzed through faith tradition (15%), and a eulogy (15%). Grades can also be increased or decreased as set forth above.

Journal Entries (70%):

Students are required to submit journal entries throughout the semester as requested by the professor. I will give you ample time to submit each entry. These journal entries will be treated confidentially.

Purpose. Journal entries are neither research assignments nor reports on the reading or what speakers said. They are designed to help each student reflect upon and integrate assigned readings and class discussions on a topic with her or his own faith and ethics. The impact of the presentation, readings, and discussions on the student’s pre-class view of the topic is important.

Content. Throughout the semester, the student will be responsible for journal entries that answer specific questions relating to the assigned readings, speaker presentations, and class discussions. Be sure to mention at least some of the readings in your journal entries.

One of the journal entries will be based on an interview you set up and conduct with an attorney or individual who currently has one of your dream jobs. Your journal entry will answer the following questions: How they reached their current position? What advice do they have for you to do the same? What is your plan to reach that position? The interview, which you must arrange and schedule, will take the place of a class period.

Grading. Journal entries must be between 600 and 750 words, typed and double spaced. Indicate word count on each journal entry. Even if you are absent for a class covering a particular journal topic, you still must submit a journal entry for that topic.

Short Paper Using Faith Traditions (15%):

This paper will include analysis of a current legal topic through the lens of multiple (2 or more) faith traditions. You must examine a current legal topic and analyze how it would be resolved through the lens of two or more faith traditions. Areas where current legal topics can be found are listed below, but this list is certainly not exhaustive.

  1. Social Justice
  2. Women and Justice
  3. Economic Justice
  4. Racial Justice
  5. Environmental Justice
  6. Orientation and Justice
  7. “Consistent Life Ethic” Issues: Abortion, War, Death Penalty, Euthanasia

The paper must be between 750 and 1,000 words, typed and double spaced. This paper is due April 28th.

Eulogy Assignment (15%):

Purpose. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, advises each of us “to begin with the end in mind.” One method of doing so is to think through what you hope your eulogy might be. I hope you do not see this exercise as morbid. For a spiritual person, thinking about dying is simply thinking about what we must transcend with God’s help. If the eulogy exercise is too difficult for you, see the alternative below under Content.

Content. First, reflect on the eulogies you have heard in your lifetime. Which ones had the most profound impact on you? Why? Then ask yourself, “What I most want people to remember about me is _____. “ Or “At the end of my life, what I would like to know about myself is ________.” Next, does your eulogy reflect your values and principles? Is it clear to what you have given your heart in life?

If the eulogy exercise is too difficult for you, you can do this exercise by thinking about your life as a book, and you are writing chapters as you live your life. What is the theme of your book?  What is the theme of the particular chapter you are living now? Write down the likely topics of the chapters you see ahead of you.

Also, speak with at least two people to discuss this assignment. One of them should be over 60 and retired. Ask them about their life in terms of how they would have answered the question above at your stage in life, and how they answer the question now at their stage of life. Have they changed their minds about what the “end” of their life should be? How do they describe “to what have I given my heart?” What is their legacy? What advice do they have about your legacy? You must include some reflection on what you find out from these interviews in your written eulogy.

Grading. The eulogy must be between 750 and 1,000 words, typed and double spaced. It will be treated confidentially. You will receive full credit for completing the assignment as stated above. Unsatisfactory work must be revised and resubmitted until it is acceptable to the professor. Indicate word count on the eulogy.

The Eulogy is also due April 28th.