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No, this is not about the proposed national I.D. card or a special requirement for lawyers under some state immigration “reform” law. Instead, the topic is one’s professional identity � how it develops and how it influences one’s life and the legal system. A healthy discussion about professional identity and purpose has emerged from the Carnegie Foundation’s influential 2007 report on legal education. William M. Sullivan et al., Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (2007). It made two principal recommendations: Preparation for practice should be understood to involve three distinct, but related, “apprenticeships”: cognitive, practical and ethical-social. And these apprenticeships should be administered in an “integrated” manner. For Carnegie, understanding the role of the lawyer should not be a separate part of a lawyer’s training. Knowledge, practice and role must be inextricably related. Lawyers who do not understand this will have a sense of professional identity and purpose that is likely to be inaccurate, incomplete or confused. They may become Anthony Kronman’s “lost lawyer.” Anthony T. Kronman, The Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession (1993). According to Carnegie, how law students are supposed to “feel” about the legal outcomes they encounter in the cases they study is not necessarily considered to be part of the law school curriculum. Students “are warned not to let their moral concerns or compassion for the people in the cases they discuss cloud their legal analyses . . . .They have no way of learning when and how their moral concerns may be relevant to their work as lawyers and when these concerns could throw them off track. Students often find this confusing and disillusioning. The fact that moral concerns are reintroduced only haphazardly conveys a cynical impression of the law that is rarely intended.” As students progress through law school, they inexorably are forming a professional identity, but this is often an unguided (and unexamined) journey. The development of professional identity and purpose continues as the graduates enter practice. Like apprentices of a bygone era, new lawyers observe more experienced practitioners and learn from their examples. But who is there to discuss which examples are sound and which are flawed? In the absence of an environment that creates opportunities for reflection and criticism (like clinical rounds in medical school), what is there to fall back on but one’s intuition? The preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct identifies some principles that may help a lawyer to develop a well-grounded sense of professional identity. While bordering on platitudes, the broad statements in the preamble provide a perspective on the role of lawyers that can provide a foundation for one’s professional identity. For example, the preamble speaks of the lawyer as a “public citizen having a special responsibility for the quality of justice,” who serves society not only through the service of clients, but also through seeking “improvement in law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession.” Such statements articulate a sense of professional identity that extends beyond duty to clients and beyond one’s preprofessional self. They express a sense of purpose that is neither universally instinctive nor easily internalized. So how does one acquire a “valid” professional I.D.? The preamble’s vision of what it means to be a lawyer should be introduced at the very beginning of law school and then thoroughly integrated throughout all aspects of the curriculum � in classrooms, clinics and simulations. Professors should understand that it is central to their task to help students develop a sense of professional purpose that is confident, constructive and consistent with the profession’s highest ideals. Challenging, not indoctrinating Wisely, the Carnegie report recognizes that it would be both “illegitimate and ineffective” for the law professors to seek to indoctrinate their students with some preferred view of “justice.” But it insists that matters of ethics, morals and justice must be addressed regularly in classes and clinics as law students build their cognitive and practice skills. Such concerns should be viewed as at the core of “thinking like a lawyer.” Because “law school cannot help but affect students’ values or ethical perspectives,” Carnegie implores the schools to seek to do so intentionally, not accidentally. Unfortunately, it is a mistake to view the influence of law schools in the formation of students’ professional values as occurring in a vacuum. An empirical study I conducted more than two decades ago investigated the influence of law office work during law school on how students identify and absorb professional values. The study “demonstrated that a student’s practice environment quickly supersedes law school as a source of reference for demarcating professionally acceptable behavior.” Lawrence K. Hellman, “The Effects of Law Office Work on the Formation of Law Students’ Professional Values,” 4 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 537, 611 (1991). There is every reason to believe that the work environment continues to dominate the formation of professional identity after one’s admission to the bar. If future generations of lawyers are to have a more confident and comprehensive sense of professional identity and purpose than their predecessors, the law schools and the profession will have to join efforts and be on the same page. Lawrence K. Hellman is dean and professor of law at Oklahoma City University School of Law.

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