1L Professional Identity Formation

Date: Tuesday, June 7, 2022, 4:00 – 5:15 PM ET

Webinar Description: The AALS Section on Balance in Legal Education General Programming Committee is excited to present a six-part “Speed-Idea Sharing Series” on Incorporating the New ABA Standards on Professional Identity, Cross-Cultural Competency, and Well-Being Resources for Students.  Each session will feature a collection of brief presentations highlighting different approaches for incorporating the new standards, followed by Q&A and conversation. Session 3 will focus specifically on first-year professional identity formation courses and offerings.


Learning Objectives:

Participants will leave this session with ideas on how to structure a first-year professional identity formation course, assess student learning and development, and enlist upper-level students and practitioners to support first-year students’ professional formation.


Click Here to Watch the Webinar Replay



Najarian Peters, Associate Professor of Law, University of Kansas School of Law

Najarian R. Peters joined the KU Law faculty in the summer of 2020. She teaches torts as well as two new privacy courses she created: Privacy Law and The Practice of Privacy Law. Peters’ work and scholarship focuses on privacy policy, law, governance, and emerging technology. Peters is a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. Prior to joining the KU Law faculty, she was the Inaugural Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of Law at the Institute for Privacy Protection at Seton Hall Law School where she was the architect of its structure, operations and program portfolio. In 2020, Peters created PrivacyPraxis, an annual conference that brings together scholars, practitioners, and advocates from a cross-section of disciplines to discuss privacy law and policy. Peters’ scholarly articles have been published in the Michigan Journal of Race & Law, University of California Law Review, Washington & Lee Law Review, and Seton Hall Law Review. Peters’ first book is forthcoming with the University of California Press in 2024 titled Marronage and Modernity: Privacy, Technology, and Black Liberation.

Peters earned her J.D. at Notre Dame Law School where she created and taught the seminar in the Center for Social Concerns, Environmental Human Rights in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and was the recipient of the Joseph Ciraolo Memorial Award and Africana Studies Book Award. She received her B.A. at Xavier University of Louisiana.



Thiadora Pina, Associate Clinical Professor and Director, Externship Program, Santa Clara University School of Law

Using the “Roadmap” and “Essential Lawyering Skills” Companion Workbook to Teach the 1L Critical Lawyering Skills Seminar

Professor Pina is an accomplished civil litigation attorney and brings her strong communication, customer service, and project management skills to Santa Clara Law as an associate clinical professor and externship director. These skills drive her innovative approach to professional development using instructional design centered on adult learning theory and principles of positive psychology.

Thiadora directs and teaches the required first-year Critical Lawyering Skills seminar and the Externship Workshop classes. She is the lead author of Essential Lawyering Skills: A Companion Guide to Neil W. Hamilton’s ROADMAP (forthcoming 2021), an interactive workbook designed to develop student’s professional identity and lawyering skills. She also uses online video modules and active scenario development to develop student’s reflective practice and self-development.

Thiadora brings this same innovative approach to cultural intelligence, where she has extensive experience as both a lawyer and professor. She is the faculty advisor for Santa Clara Law’s Black Law Student Association and the founding advisor of Santa Clara Law’s First-Generation Law Student Association. She designed and now delivers a cultural competence workshop centered on critical lawyering competencies.

Thiadora practiced civil litigation for over eleven years. She concentrated her practice in insurance, healthcare, and personal bankruptcy. She regularly appeared in state and federal courts throughout the Boston, Massachusetts area.

Thiadora is a native of Boston, Massachusetts and enjoys cooking, travel, sports, and astronomy.



Erika Pont, Interim Associate Director and Visiting Professor of Law, Fundamentals of Lawyering, The George Washington University Law School

Incorporating Professional Identity Formation into a Traditional Legal Research and Writing Program

Erika N. Pont serves as Interim Associate Director of the Fundamentals of Lawyering program for the 2020-21 Academic Year. She serves as the program’s liaison to the Inns of Court Program and is responsible for incorporating principles of professional development and professional identity formation into the Fundamentals of Lawyering curriculum. Professor Pont joined the Fundamentals of Lawyering faculty in its inaugural year after nearly twelve years of teaching at GW as an adjunct professor. She has taught legal research and writing, introduction to advocacy, scholarly writing, and independent legal writing. In teaching and in practice, Professor Pont has mentored numerous students and junior associates and been influential in their professional development. 

Prior to joining GW Law full time, Professor Pont spent over a decade in the litigation department at McDermott Will & Emery. Professor Pont has experience in all aspects of complex commercial litigation including bench and jury trials. Professor Pont’s pro bono practice focused on immigration and death penalty issues. In this capacity, she first-chaired immigration hearings and filed amicus briefs on behalf of the American Bar Association and the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. At McDermott, she served on office and firm-wide professional development committees, designed and presented firm-wide trainings, and was active in firm hiring including on-campus recruiting. After McDermott, she joined new litigation boutique Ward & Berry where she served as Hiring Partner. 

As a student at GW Law, Professor Pont served as a Dean’s Fellow, Executive Notes Editor of the International Law Review, and helped launch the Scholarly Writing Program in its first year. Professor Pont earned a BA with high honors in government from Smith College in Northampton, MA. She is also certified as a Mental Health First Aid Provider by the National Council on Behavioral Health and holds a certificate in the Psychology of Happiness from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Pont’s research interests include the intersection of psychology and law school pedagogy, metacognition, and lawyer wellness. She is particularly interested in curricular innovations to assist in professional identity formation in first-generation law students.



Francie Scott, Assistant Dean of the Office of Career & Professional Development, Wake Forest University School of Law

Introducing Students to Self-Assessment, Cross-Cultural Competency, and Mindset in the 1L Professional Development Course

Francie Scott is the Assistant Dean of the Office of Career & Professional Development, where she counsels students on all aspects of professional development and career planning and maintains oversight of the law school’s mandatory 1L Professional Development course.

Francie is a 2004 cum laude graduate of Wake Forest School of Law and graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Philosophy and French. Following law school, she served as a law clerk for the Honorable Samuel G. Wilson, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. She practiced labor and employment law for several years with an international law firm based in Richmond, Virginia.  In 2008 she left the practice of law to obtain a Master’s in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her concentration was in nonprofit management. Before attending law school, she served in the Peace Corps in Zimbabwe. She has authored a treatise chapter on U.S. employment law, published multiple NALP Bulletin articles addressing issues of student professional formation, and been a panelist at academic conferences on the Professional Development course. She is an active member and former president of the Forsyth County Women Attorneys Association and is involved in many NALP professional groups, including the Law Student Professional Development section. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband, a local attorney, and two young sons.



Aric Short, Professor of Law and Director, Professionalism and Leadership Program, Texas A&M University School of Law

Structural Components, Challenges, and Assessments in the 1L Professional Identity Course

Since 2014, Aric Short has served as Vice Dean of the law school, where he oversees new degree programs, academic collaborations with other schools, and our innovative Professionalism and Leadership Program. Dean Short also established and leads the law school’s annual pro bono summer trip to Costa Rica. From 2013 to 2014, he served as Interim Dean of the law school and helped lead its transition to Texas A&M ownership. Before that, Dean Short served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, where he oversaw the law school’s curriculum and expanded experiential learning and professionalism training. These efforts included developing a skills-based winter term, building new clinical partnerships with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office and the Federal Aviation Administration, and helping implement an oral skills graduation requirement. In addition to his administrative work, Dean Short has taught Property, Wills and Estates, and other property-related courses, and he has been voted 1L Professor of the Year six times. His research and scholarship have focused on housing-related discrimination and the litigation of human rights claims in U.S. courts. Dean Short has been active in local and national service, including serving on the ABA committee that revised distance-learning standards for legal education. He is also the Chair-elect of the Post-Graduate Legal Education Committee of the Association of American Law Schools. Prior to teaching, Dean Short practiced international law at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C. and environmental and administrative law at Vinson & Elkins in Austin, Texas. Dean Short received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University and his law degree with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where he a member of the Texas Law Review and Order of the Coif. He resides in Fort Worth with his wife and three children.



Linda Sugin, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Office of Professionalism, Fordham University School of Law

Peer Mentorship and Upper-Level Student Participation in the First-Year Professionalism Curriculum

Linda Sugin joined the Fordham Law faculty in 1994 and has taught courses in Federal Taxation, Tax Policy, Nonprofit Organizations, Corporations, Contracts, and Quantitative Methods for Lawyers. She was the 2021 recipient of the Dean’s Medal of Achievement and the 2007 recipient of Fordham Law School’s Teacher of the Year Award. Her scholarly interests focus on issues of distributive justice in taxation and the governance of nonprofit organizations.

Sugin’s works on political philosophy and taxation, particularly those focused on John Rawls and the implications of his theory for the design of fair taxes, have been downloaded 20,000 times. She was an early critic of the reliance of tax scholarship on law and economics orthodoxies. She adopted a framework for tax policy built on democratic fairness and equal individual respect, and she introduced a philosophically driven perspective on optimal taxation into the scholarly literature

Her work draws attention to the way that taxation both reflects what is valued in society and shapes that society. Sugin has long advocated a shift in the tax burden from labor to capital and defended progressivity. She is a leading voice on the treatment of tax expenditures in constitutional cases and has warned of the dangers in treating policies in the tax law as beyond legal scrutiny. Her research on nonprofit organizations combines theory with practical advice for regulators and nonprofit leaders. She has written about nonprofit governance, philanthropy and inequality, and corporate philanthropy. Sugin is co-author of a textbook for the basic course on federal income taxation, The Individual Tax Base, published by West, now in its third edition. Her op-eds on payroll taxesDonald’s Trump’s charitable organization, and the 2017 tax law have appeared in the New York Times, and she is regularly quoted in the media on issues of nonprofit governance.

Sugin served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2017 through 2021. In that role, she focused on students, transforming the Fordham Law School student experience through new programming, resources, and courses. She also focused on strengthening students’ academic experience in multiple ways. Fordham Law School’s professionalism program reflects Sugin’s vision for expanding the scope of legal education to include emotional support, leadership training, and essential skills that are not traditionally included in the law school curriculum. She designed and started the Law School’s two signature professionalism programs: the Peer Mentorship Program and the House System.

Under Sugin’s leadership, Fordham Law School recruited nine tenure-track faculty members, enriching the school’s scholarly profile and curricular offerings, and increasing the gender and racial diversity of the faculty. She also oversaw the introduction of a January term for upper-level students, designed to offer students small-credit courses in a condensed time frame that benefited from the intensity of the schedule.

Sugin reconceptualized aspects of the Law School’s August orientation for incoming students to focus on professional identity development and emotional preparation for law school. She crafted new elements to supplement and dovetail with the other academic-focused programs in orientation, including Quantitative Methods for Lawyers, a four-part course on quantitative tools that lawyers need to use, which Sugin spearheaded and designed, and continues to teach with three faculty collaborators.

Sugin also conceived the January orientation — introduced in 2020 — for first-year students as a day focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She worked with the full-time faculty to add diversity, equity, and inclusion training to full-time faculty development, and implemented mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all adjunct faculty. As chair of a committee of faculty, students, alumni and administrators, she recruited Kimathi Gordon-Somers to be the Law School’s Assistant Dean of Students and Diversity.

As Associate Dean, Sugin was particularly attentive to the challenges of students enrolled in the part-time program. To help address part-time students’ needs she shifted class schedules, launched a remote learning pilot project, and sponsored a course reduction in the first year curriculum. Sugin managed the design, development, and introduction of the Law School’s online MSL degree in compliance, its first fully online academic program.

Academic support has been another focus of Sugin’s attention as Associate Dean. She worked with the Office of Student Affairs to redesign academic support to make it more available earlier in a student’s law school career and more useful by focusing narrowly on student needs. Sugin also worked with the faculty to create a policy that defines the role of student teaching assistants in large classes. By supporting the widespread employment of student teaching assistants and the commitment of resources to them, Sugin encouraged faculty to create more opportunities for formative assessment and feedback for students, particularly in the first year.

Sugin directed the streamlining and rationalization of the administration’s touchpoints with students, organizing all the student-facing departments to foster administrative cooperation for student benefit. Overhauling the school’s intranet and making it mobile-friendly and easily navigated was a high priority for her, and she has overseen a transformation in the way that the Law School communicates with students.

As Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Sugin guided the Law School’s academic program through the pandemic, keeping the school open with substantially reduced in-person capacity.  She oversaw the transition to online learning in March 2020, and the return to partial in-person instruction for Fall 2020. Sugin directed a wide variety of policy and operational changes in response to the emergency, and supported faculty, students, and administrators throughout the disruption. She created the schedule of classes in order to minimize public health risks, accommodate students unable to be present in New York, and maximize student preference satisfaction as to course modalities. Sugin rearranged course offerings to ensure that students’ academic programs would continue without disruption, and oversaw technology upgrades and training for all constituencies. Working closely with both the full-time and adjunct faculty, Sugin prepared all teachers for online instruction and provided continuing institutional support through the year.

Sugin is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Law, where she began her academic career as an Acting Assistant Professor of Law.  She also served as a Visiting Professor at NYU in 2001-02. As a student, Sugin received the Law Review Alumni Association Award for second-highest academic average, the Maurice Goodman Memorial Prize for outstanding scholarship and character, American Jurisprudence Awards in Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law, and the Pomeroy Prize. She served as an editor of the NYU Law Review and is a member of Order of the Coif.  After law school, Sugin clerked in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg and practiced tax law at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson. She is a member of the New York bar and the American Law Institute, and a former member of the board of advisors of the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law.