Lawyer, Form Thyself: Professional Identity Formation Strategies in Legal Education, Professional Responsibility, and Experiential Courses

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date



professional identity formation


Professional identity formation as a learning objective in law school may appear to be nontraditional and perhaps even innovative. It is likely not a new concept, but at least has not traditionally been an explicit goal of legal education. In informal discussions among law professors, these ideas often emerge: law students develop their professional identities either in their families of origin or through life experiences prior to law school and therefore any such characteristics are set, ingrained, and perhaps immutable; law students develop their professional identities through interactions with supervisors during summer clerkships and after graduation -- “on the job” so to speak; or, finally, professional identity is an unteachable, untrainable, and intangible concept and law professors are unable to address it.