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Professional Development Course

Our ground-breaking Professional Development course began in the fall of 2013 and introduces and explores the professional competencies that lead to a satisfying and successful professional career.  While entering students may be three years away from formal entry into legal practice, professional identity formation begins upon entering law school. This class provides the space for meaningful reflection on the process of professional formation by considering individual values, strengths, and interests, examining the culture and expectations of the profession, and developing the key tools and strategies necessary to pursue and succeed in employment.

Providing a Professional Foundation for the Practice of Law

The goals of this one-credit graded course are to educate students about the culture of law practice, help them understand the diversity of law practices, and help them define their own career goals.  Engagement in this process strengthens mentoring and advising relationships with law school faculty and administrators, in addition to better preparing students to enter and succeed in professional environments.

Led by a team of full-time faculty members, professional staff from the Office of Career & Professional Development, and an upper-class teaching assistant, first year students meet in small group sections to allow for thoughtful reflection and discussion. The course covers the full academic year, with small group meetings, assignments that reinforce the process of professional identity formation, and networking opportunities and other programs that introduce students to attorneys in practice.

While American law schools quite effectively teach students how to think like lawyers, and the advent of experiential learning has begun to teach students what to do as lawyers,  this course goes beyond both and teaches students how to be lawyers.