Practice and Professionalization

Title

Is There Sufficient Human Resource Capacity to Support Robust Professional Identity Formation Learning Outcomes?

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date

1-2018

Keywords

learning outcomes, professional identity formation, law school faculty, MacCrate Report

Abstract

In his article, Integrity: Its Causes and Cures, David Luban notes that if you think about integrity in terms of consistency between beliefs/principles and actions/conduct, there are two ways to accomplish consistency. One is the “high road,” in which one changes one’s actions/behavior to conform to one’s principles. One is the “low road,” in which one modifies one’s principles to conform to one’s actions/behavior. These dilemmas arise for institutions as well as for individuals.

In the next several years, as law schools with robust learning outcomes associated with professional identity formation prepare for their ABA Sabbatical Site Visit associated with ongoing accreditation, those schools with robust learning outcomes will have to make a decision. One choice might be to conform their actions to their principles—Luban’s “high road”—by finding ways to measure and assess student performance regarding these more robust professional formation outcomes. Another choice, however, might be to conform their principles to their actions—Luban’s “low road”—by amending their learning outcomes if it just seems too difficult to teach and to assess development of these more robust aspects of professional identity formation. The faculty at these law schools may have aspired in their initial drafts of their learning outcomes to pursue these robust learning outcomes associated with professional identity formation and to develop curricular interventions and means of assessment to determine whether their students and graduates have progressed on these learning outcomes. But they may discover that developing the curricular interventions and the means of assessment is more difficult than they had anticipated, resulting not in further efforts to do better, but in further efforts to reform the learning outcomes to be more “realistic” and more easily accomplished.

Do most law schools have sufficient human resource capacity, particularly among their full-time faculty members, to accomplish what needs to happen in terms of generating developmental rubrics, curricular interventions, and corresponding assessment tools to support robust learning outcomes related to aspects of professional formation? Perhaps not, particularly if these professional formation learning outcomes require development of new measures of performance and new methods of assessment.

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