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Unpublished Paper
The St. Thomas Effect: Law School Mission and the Formation of Professional Identity
ExpressO (2008)
  • Jennifer Wright

The legal profession has long been criticized for declining standards of professionalism. Recent studies have pointed to the crucial role of legal education in forming the professional identity of lawyers. Law schools must take seriously their duty to intentionally and thoughtfully shape their students’ sense of what it means to be a lawyer and of how their professional identities will align and coexist with their other personal and ethical commitments. In this article, I examine a case study of one law school, the University of St. Thomas School of Law, whose self-proclaimed raison d’etre is to produce a “different kind of lawyer.” Using qualitative research methods, I define the particular content of this intended “St. Thomas Effect”, and lay out a further research program to determine whether this law school is in fact achieving its mission in the formation of its graduates. I offer this effort to define and measure the goals of intentional professional formation as a model which other law schools may find useful.

  • professional education,
  • professionalism,
  • professional ethics,
  • ethics,
  • law school,
  • mission,
  • law school mission,
  • St. Thomas School of Law,
  • St. Thomas Effect,
  • professional identity,
  • values,
  • legal profession,
  • social welfare,
  • social consciousness,
  • law school
Publication Date
November 18, 2008
Citation Information
Jennifer Wright. "The St. Thomas Effect: Law School Mission and the Formation of Professional Identity" ExpressO (2008)
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