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Recent revisions to ABA accreditation standards provide yet another exciting opportunity for faculty teaching lawyering skills to position our courses as central to preparing students for excellence in professional practice, particularly in terms of offering opportunities for professional identity formation in the first-year curriculum.

ABA Standard 303(b)(3) now formally requires that law schools provide “substantial opportunities” to law students for “the development of a professional identity.” Interpretation 303-5 provides that professional identity “focuses on what it means to be a lawyer and the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society. The development of professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice.” Importantly, the Interpretation counsels that this practice requires “requires reflection and growth over time,” including frequent opportunities for development “during each year of law school” and “in a variety of courses . . . and activities.”

Like many of our colleagues across the country even prior to the February 2022 standards revision, the first-year lawyering skills faculty at Boston College Law School has integrated professional identity formation into our teaching in a variety of ways. This article briefly describes our comprehensive, experiential lawyering skills curriculum that specifically incorporates professional identity formation into its learning outcomes. Then, it offers the “oral report to a supervising attorney” module as an example of a traditional skills exercise that we’ve reframed to offer a specific opportunity for professional identity formation which incorporates the perspectives of practicing lawyers and judges, including BC Law alumni, and allows students to better envision themselves as lawyers in a wide range of professional practices. Finally, the piece offers suggestions for faculty seeking to recreate the exercise at other schools and reflects on enhancements we will make to the activity going forward.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
5 Jun 2023
387 kB



  • Subject
    • Legal Education

    • Legal Profession

    • Legal Writing and Research

  • Journal title
    • The Second Draft

  • Volume
    • 36

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Pagination
    • 1-9

  • Date submitted

    5 June 2023