[excerpt from article] It is our job as legal educators to put our law graduates in the best position to succeed as new lawyers.1 And to succeed, law graduates must possess certain qualities or character traits that will enable them to thrive within legal organizations.2 Despite many calls for reform in legal education to include more practice-related skills, including professionalism, many law professors teaching doctrinal courses are reluctant to incorporate teaching professional competencies and behaviors.3 They are unwilling to do so even though they have long decried students’ lack of professional skills.4 Professors complain that students show up late for classes and are unwilling to work hard. They criticize students for failing to persevere when faced with challenges or critiques, respond to professors’ emails, engage in teaching exercises, listen to their classmates, closely read assignments, or follow directions. Professors note that students’ attention spans are too short and they are addicted to their phones. It follows that the same student behaviors we see in the classroom transfer to practice. If these behaviors impair our students’ performance as attorneys, we should take steps to remedy the problem by teaching and assessing the qualities and character traits necessary to succeed throughout the law school curriculum, including in the first-year and other doctrinal classes.
Journal of Legal Education
Association of American Law Schools (AALS)
Sophie M. Sparrow, Teaching and Assessing Soft Skills, 67 J. of Leg. Educ. 553 (Winter 2018).