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Sturm College of Law


Lawyer professional identity, Carnegie Report, Legal education


This Article is my attempt to provide a guide to what professional identity formation is—as distinct from more familiar concepts of professionalism and ethics—and what legal educators are doing, and could do in the future, to foster this sort of professional formation in their courses and curricula. In Part I, I offer some background and history of the topic, which supports a new definition provided in the Article for lawyer professional identity formation. I describe in Part II what some schools are doing to “teach” formation of professional identity and argue that those efforts have some significant limitations. I argue in Part III that teaching law through simulations can provide learning opportunities that foster professional identity formation and that these learning opportunities can be added to any course. Finally, in Part IV, I describe a particular course in civil discovery law that illustrates the concepts and arguments made in the Article.

Publication Statement

Originally published as David I.C. Thomson, "Teaching" Formation of Professional Identity, 27 Regent U. L. Rev. 303 (2015). Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.