Georgia State Law faculty members continue their leadership in the area of professional identity formation through their participation in a national effort to inventory and create tools to support initiatives in this area.
Working with the University of St. Thomas’s Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions are Kinda Abdus-Saboor, a lecturer in the Externship Program; Lisa Radkte Bliss, associate dean for experiential learning, director of the clinics, and co-director of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic; Nicole G. Iannarone, associate clinical professor and director of the Investor Advocacy Clinic; and Kendall Kerew, assistant clinical professor and director of the Externship Program.
The mission of the Holloran Center, located in Minneapolis, is to provide innovative interdisciplinary research, curriculum development and programs focusing holistically on the formation of both students and practicing professionals into ethical leaders in their communities.
“Our faculty’s work with the Holloran Center not only demonstrates our commitment to professional identity formation as a critical component of the legal education offered by Georgia State, but also our commitment to ensuring that faculty and staff have opportunities to engage with other professionals leading in this area,” Bliss said.
The Holloran Center, in response to the American Bar Association’s requirement that accredited law schools articulate institutional learning outcomes, has inventoried and created a database of those outcomes related to professional identity formation. In addition, it has convened national working groups to create educational resources to assess institutional and course level learning outcomes related to professional identity formation.
Abdus-Saboor, Bliss, Iannarone and Kerew have completed one year of a two-year commitment to participate in the national working group model. Each of the five working groups is focused on a professional identity formation concept: self-directedness, cultural competence, professionalism, teamwork and integrity.
“It is crucial for law schools to be proactive about exposing students to the complexities of cultural competency, “ Abdus-Saboor said. “For me, it has been an eye-opening experience. We are taking a concept, that is somewhat abstract, and putting it into concrete, measurable terms. I hope our work will serve as a springboard for law schools around the country to do the same – unpack the abstract nature of cultural competency and integrate it into their curriculums in an explicit, meaningful way.”
Abdus-Saboor and Bliss are members of the cultural competence working group, and Iannarone and Kerew are members of the self-directedness working group with Kerew leading it.
“We are breaking down a key lawyering competency we know when we see – taking ownership and responsibility as a lawyer – but that students, professors, and lawyers collectively believe eludes deconstruction into staged elements,” Iannarone said. The process is equal parts challenging and rewarding. The Holloran Center brings together thoughtful, hard-working, and creative professors who are also excellent teachers to create new tools that benefit all constituents of legal education.”
Since 2015, Georgia State has sent 10 faculty and staff members to Holloran Center summer workshops. Like the assessment working group project, the summer workshops bring together faculty and staff at law schools across the country to engage in conversation about the pedagogies that foster professional formation and to work on individual and institutional plans to integrate professional formation more fully into individual classes and programs, and the institution as a whole.
In addition, Kerew is working on a book, “From Student to Lawyer: An Integrated Approach to Professional Identity Formation in Law School,” with Jerry Organ, professor of law and co-director of the Holloran Center; as well as Kelly Terry, professor and director of the Externship Programs and Pro Bono Opportunities and co-director of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning at the University of Arkansas William H. Bowen School of Law.
The Holloran Center is part of the National Institute for Teaching Ethics and Professionalism (NIFTEP), a consortium of six nationally recognized centers on ethics and professionalism, which includes Georgia State Law’s National Institute for Teaching Ethics and Professionalism.