Professional identity formation as a learning objective in law school may appear to be nontraditional and perhaps even innovative. While perhaps not a new concept, it is not typically an explicit goal of legal education. Empirical data finds that law school has demonstrable effects upon law students’ professional development; it also finds that certain nontraditional skills and competencies (or “soft skills”) make lawyers most effective. This article argues for explicit planning for and inclusion of professional identity development, including training in these nontraditional skills, in legal education. Professional identity encompasses one’s values, preferences, passions, intrinsic satisfactions, emotional intelligence, as well as one’s preferred professional best practices. Emotional intelligence refers to refer to five areas: intrapersonal (self) awareness, self-management competencies, awareness of others (empathy), interpersonal relational skills, and drive or motivation. Many of these “professional identity” concepts have been empirically demonstrated to be important to one’s effectiveness as a lawyer and to one’s wellbeing and satisfaction as a lawyer. This article sets forth some of the author’s strategies for developing one’s self-awareness, values, preferences, preferred professional role, best practices, judgment, interpersonal skills, and professional communications skills, in law school.
- professional identity development,
- soft skills,
- lawyering skills; legal education; legal ethics; professional responsibility
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/susan_daicoff/42/