A Text to Teach the Third Carnegie Apprenticeship–Professional Identity By: E. Scott Fruehwald

The Carnegie Report, which criticized traditional legal education, designated three “apprenticeships” for educating today’s lawyers: 1) the “cognitive apprenticeship,” which focuses on expert knowledge and modes of thinking, 2) the “apprenticeship of practice,” which educates students in “the forms of expert practice shared by competent practitioners,” and 3) the “apprenticeship of identity and purpose,” which “introduces students to the purposes and attitudes that are guided by the values for which the professional community is responsible.”  Since the Carnegie Report, numerous authors have published texts intended to develop “the apprenticeship of practice.”  However, until now, there have been no texts that covered the “apprenticeship of identity and purpose.”

In “Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer” (2015), I have taken a new approach to learning professional ethics and professional identity.  Traditionally, legal ethics professors have taught students the ethical rules, cases that interpreted the rules, and how to apply the rules to facts.  In other words, legal ethics was taught exactly like contracts, torts, and property.  Professional identity is more than knowing how to apply ethical rules.  It is personal; it involves the inner person (your moral compass).   Professional identity is a lawyer’s personal morality, values, decision-making process, and self-consciousness in relation to the practices of the legal profession.  It provides the framework that a lawyer uses to make all a lawyer’s decisions.

My book takes a variety of approaches to help law students develop their professional identities. Chapter One asks students to take a close look at themselves by asking questions about their childhood, their college years, and who they are today.  Chapters Two (Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner), Six (Overcoming Cognitive Biases), and Seven (Attorney Well-Being) give students the tools they will need to develop their professional identities. Chapter Two also introduces students to “practical wisdom,” an important approach to understanding and solving ethical problems. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 deal with professional identity within certain topics–the attorney-client relationship, the lawyer and society, and attorney advertising and solicitation of clients. Chapter Eight presents the legal profession’s and society’s views on lawyers and the legal profession. Chapter Nine focuses on the student’s role as a lawyer. It asks students what area of law they want to practice, how they will deal with clients, their place in the legal profession, standards of civility in the legal profession, and working with subordinates. Finally, Chapter Ten contains a variety of extended problems to help students further develop their professional identities.

Students can use this book either an independent study text, or professors can adopt it as a classroom text.

For too long now, legal education has focused on learning to think like a lawyer and memorizing legal rules.  It is time to learn how to be a lawyer.


One Response

  1. Several years ago I wrote an article (available on my Bepress site) advocating that law schools require a course in Negotiation, and/or make some training in negotiation available earlier in a student’s law school career. That article also suggests how the course can be offered to more students in a cost-effective manner. One of the many advantages of instruction in this most fundamental skill is that a Negotation course allows students to not only reflect on some aspects of their role as a professional, but to live it out (granted in a simulation, but one that the vast majority of students take very seriously). It very quickly becomes apparent which students follow the rules and which ones stretch them beyond recognition, which ones treat their opponents and clients with respect and which ones don’t, etc. Finding a vehicle for students to actually experience BEHAVING as a professional, in addition to reflecting on it, should be a component of a school’s attempt to help form professional identity. The Negotiation course is one such vehicle; there are others as well.

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