Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

There is little question that law schools ought to teach their students professionalism – indeed, they are required to do so to maintain accreditation. And there is little question that the required legal writing and research course is one of the places it ought to be taught. But teaching students to adopt the norms of professional behavior — both in law school and after graduation — is a challenge to law faculties, and particularly to the experiential learning faculty who frequently are on the front lines of teaching professionalism. While there are many ways to teach students what professional and unprofessional behavior looks like, it is often comparatively difficult to persuade students to exhibit professional behavior as a matter of course. This article describes an effective method to help students learn about and internalize professional behavior: embedding professionalism topics in substantive assignments. While legal research and writing courses in particular provide many opportunities to use substantive assignments to also teach professionalism, the approach I describe would work in any class — doctrinal or experiential — that incorporates simulated exercises as part of the substantive work. And since all members of a law faculty share the responsibility of inculcating professionalism norms in students, it makes sense to incorporate professionalism topics in both doctrinal and experiential courses. The first section of this article provides an overview of this teaching method and describes the inspiration for it. The second section reviews current methods of teaching professionalism topics and explains why those methods, while helpful in exposing students to professionalism norms, may be insufficient on their own to get students to internalize those norms. The third section describes in detail the approach I advocate, and discusses its benefits. The fourth section provides specific assignment ideas for faculty interested in adopting this approach, and the fifth section discusses two caveats.


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