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Law Courses Catalog

On Being a Lawyer

Course is Credit/No Credit

Effective lawyering involves not just competent legal skills, but also a sense of professional purpose and identity that will allow the lawyer to effectively represent clients, thrive individually and as part of a professional community. In this intensive workshop-style course, students will explore what it means to be a professional, authentic lawyer. Students will look at issues such as:

  • Establishing and maintaining trust with one’s clients and understanding the role of respect for and consideration of one’s clients and others.
  • Fostering civility, individual and social justice, and integrity.
  • Exploring conflict, including the individual’s approach to conflict and strategies to effectively approach conflict.
  • Exploring the personal meaning that legal work has for the practicing attorney and the attorney’s sense of responsibility for the profession.

In exploring these issues, students will actively engage narrative practices and exercises. Specifically, students will engage in close reading of narratives, reflective writing, attentive listening, and autobiographical exercises. By engaging these practices, students will develop interpersonal skills and reflect on their professional identity as lawyers. Students will develop skills that foster empathic lawyer-client relationships, learn narrative communication strategies for client-centered and life-balanced practice, and cultivate collegial alliances. In addition, students to reflect on their own values and character as they explore what it means to be a professional, authentic lawyer.

Simulations — client interviews, mediations, and/or negotiations — will give students a chance to experiment with narrative communication strategies focused on integrity, curiosity, and empathy as a means to approach conflict and build trust.

Course materials will include reading short stories and articles and watching and reflecting on assigned movies. Students will write several short narratives over the course of the workshop and will write a paper (due 2 weeks after the course is over).