Natasha Martin • 17 Feb 2012
Role, Identity, and Lawyering: Empowering Professional Responsibility
This piece was written for a program held by the American Association of Law Schools Section on Law and Humanities, “Excavating and Integrating Law and Humanities in the Core Curriculum,” on January 5, 2012.The Professional Responsibility course has the potential to have the greatest impact on our students’ futures in the profession. Paradoxically, however, it remains one of the most undervalued courses in most law school curricula. The complexity of teaching Professional Responsibility is well documented by scholars. Most teachers in this area, novices and veterans alike, acknowledge the challenge of teaching a course whose subject matter and application is so deeply personal for the students. This course remains challenging due in part to the competing goals of teaching students issue resolution using the law governing lawyers and fostering understanding of the normative values that underlie the regulations. Of course, I want my students to gain command of the standards that govern the legal profession. Reducing the course to a rules-only venture, however, excises much that remains vital to their futures as lawyers. I aim to bring harmony to the divergent roles of lawyers as fiduciaries for clients, officers of the court, and individuals with personal identities and interests.