In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching published Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law. The publication calls for a model of education that integrates thinkers and professionals. Indiana Law’s revolutionary professional skills curriculum melds the theoretical understanding of the Carnegie Report and the practical application of the American Bar Association’s professional skills requirements.
All first-year students are enrolled in The Legal Profession, an innovative four-hour course on the ethics, competencies, and economics of the legal profession. Inspired by the 2007 Carnegie Report, The Legal Profession uses legal ethics and the law of lawyering as the spine of a course that immerses students in a variety of practice settings and that educates them on the competencies they must develop to succeed in their professional lives.
In The Legal Profession, students wrestle with realistic problems that force them to apply the rules of professional responsibility and to comprehend how economics, workplace pressures, and organizational incentives affect lawyers. Working in teams, students present or enact their solutions and are critiqued by the instructors and their fellow students. Twice during the semester, students engage in formal reviews of the performance of their teams, their team mates, and themselves. The goal is to prepare students for the ethical and professional challenges they will soon face.
Professor John Steele is the lead editor of the course materials and one of the instructors. A former practitioner and longtime instructor in legal ethics and the law of lawyering, Steele integrates practical insights with in-depth analysis. Professor William Henderson co-founded and developed the course. As moderator of the Law Firms Working Group, a joint-initiative with the American Bar Foundation, Henderson is also leading researchers from around the country in interdisciplinary studies of the legal profession. Their findings will continually inform this course.
First-year students are also paired with a Practice Group Advisor, who works closely with 1Ls to assess their interests, abilities, and values in the legal profession. Supported by the groundbreaking research of Indiana Law's Center on the Global Legal Profession, PGAs help students define their career aspirations and design the best course of study.
With this integrated first-year curriculum as a guide, decisions regarding areas of study and career goals become more meaningful. Upper-level courses support a formative education that develops skills alongside traditional scholarship, culminating in a meaningful capstone course.
"Faculty across our curriculum will be brainstorming new ways to build on this first-year shift,” said Indiana Law Professor Joseph Hoffmann. “The end product will be a cohesive, progressive sequence of programs for our students.”