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Some of New York’s top judicial, academic and legal figures are gathering in Albany, N.Y., today for an extraordinary examination of the hearts and souls of law students and new lawyers. In a two-day Convocation on the Face of the Profession, judges, law professors, bar leaders, law school admissions officers, major employers of new lawyers and undergraduate career counselors are coming together to explore the factors that influence the formation of professional values. The convocation, which opens today at the Court of Appeals and continues Tuesday at the headquarters of the New York State Bar Association, is the inaugural event of Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye’s Institute on Professionalism in the Law. “What I see so much of that really disturbs me is the discontent among new lawyers and many people, especially young women, leaving the profession,” Chief Judge Kaye said in an interview last week. Kaye said too many young lawyers become so overwhelmed that they burn-out before really getting their career going. “They just don’t find that the reality measures up to the expectations,” Kaye said. “I hear of a lot of people doing things they don’t really want to do because they have $100,000 or more of debt. They have to go somewhere they don’t want to go and do something they don’t want to do for a few years until they retire debt, and by then they are so disenchanted that they leave the profession. I think it is time for some constructive thinking.” Kaye will open the conference along with David B. Wilkins, a Harvard Law School professor and leading expert on ethics and professionalism, State Bar President Paul Michael Hassett and Louis A. Craco of Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Craco is chairman of the Institute on Professionalism. The institute, which was created last year to nurture professionalism, consists of 18 members, including lawyers, judges, educators and the general public. Next week’s convocation results largely from this year’s meeting of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, which adopted a resolution encouraging a national discourse on critical issues affecting the profession. Three general topic areas highlight the agenda: � The profile of college graduates accepted into law school, the gate-keeping role of law schools, the impact of college debt, diversity, why people decide to go to law school and the Law School Admissions Test. � The socialization of law students into the profession, the sense of professionalism, economic stresses and why some students abandon their legal education. � Law students graduating and starting employment, the expectations of new graduates, the lifestyle they seek and find and the principles and values that employers look for in new graduates. SEARCH FOR MEANING “At the heart of any lawyer’s sense of professionalism is that person’s own answer to the question, ‘What does it mean to be a lawyer?’ ” Craco said. “ We want to explore what factors influence the answers given to that question by newcomers to the profession as they go from applying to law school through choosing their first career experiences.” Kaye said she is hoping for a “robust discussion” that will allow troublesome issues to come to the forefront for discussion, and eventually, resolution. “This is the first time anything like this has taken place, where we bring together academics, the practicing bar and the courts,” Judge Kaye said. “I think it is high time given the tremendous changes in the profession, and the tremendous cynicism about the practice of law, both internally and publicly.”

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