A Framework for Teaching and Exercises to Support Students’ Professional Identity Formation

Date: Tuesday, July 12, 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 5 will focus specifically on developing a framework for teaching professional identity formation and exercises that faculty can offer to support students’ professional identity formation.


Learning Objectives:

Participants will leave this session with new ideas for framing professional identity formation as an essential component of a legal education and five exercises they can use in classroom or clinical settings to foster students’ professional identity formation.


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Janice Craft, J.D., Director of Professional Identity Formation & Assistant Professor of Legal Practice, University of Richmond School of Law

Prior to her role as Director of Professional Identity Formation, Janice served as a staff attorney and later as the Legal Services Director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of gender-based violence in the Commonwealth. Janice helped lead the Alliance’s successful effort to build a non-traditional legal services delivery program that provides underserved survivors of violence access to trauma-informed, pro bono legal representation from private attorneys in their communities. During her tenure, the Alliance’s legal services program realized year-over-year growth in the number of clients served, the number of private attorneys participating in the Alliance’s referral network, and the number and value of pro bono hours donated by private attorneys to Alliance clients. Prior to her work with the Alliance, Janice served as policy director for a Virginia affiliate of a national reproductive rights organization. She clerked for then-Chief Judge Walter S. Felton, Jr. of the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Janice earned her law degree from the William & Mary School of Law, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Race, Gender and Social Justice (formerly, William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law). Janice earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Florida, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude.



Jamie Abrams, J.D., LL.M, Professor of Law and Legal Rhetoric Director, American University Washington College of Law

Voice and Video Learning Tools as Sustainable Supplements to Traditional Courses and Materials

Professor Abrams returns to Washington College of Law, where she earned her J.D. and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2002, after most recently serving as a professor of law at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. She has held visiting appointments at the University of Baltimore School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Turku School of Law and University of Leeds School of Law. Her research focuses on reproductive and birthing decision-making, gendered violence, masculinities theory, feminist theory and legal education pedagogy. She is the author of “Tort Law Simulations: Bridge to Practice” (2020) and co-author of “Family Law Simulations: Bridge to Practice.” Professor Abrams will teach Legal Rhetoric, Torts, Family Law, Women and the Law and Legislation.



Heidi K. Brown, J.D., Director of Legal Writing and Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

The Flourishing Lawyer: A Fresh Lens through which to View the Challenge of Enriching and Safeguarding Well-Being in the Legal Profession

Professor Brown, who is on sabbatical during the 2021-2022 academic year, joined Brooklyn Law School as Director of the Legal Writing Program in 2016. A prolific scholar and author on the art and science of legal writing, she has published four books on predictive and persuasive legal writing and federal litigation, as well as numerous scholarly articles for law journals. In 2019, she published her sixth book, Untangling Fear in Lawyering: A Four-Step Journey Toward Powerful Advocacy (ABA Publishing, 2019), a follow-up to the acclaimed The Introverted Lawyer: A Seven-Step Journey Toward Authentically Empowered Advocacy (ABA Publishing, 2017). Inspired by her own experience conquering fear of public speaking during her litigation career, she is passionate about helping law students and lawyers “find their authentic lawyer voices” and overcome anxiety about Socratic legal discourse and performance-based lawyering tasks.

Prior to joining the Law School, Brown served as Associate Professor of Law at New York Law School, where she taught in the school’s Legal Practice program. Before that, she was an Associate Professor of Legal Research and Writing at the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law in Orange, California.

Brown has more than two decades of experience in law practice. She served as Of Counsel with Moore & Lee, LLP, a boutique litigation firm with offices in the Washington, D.C., area and New York City, where she handled all aspects of litigation and arbitration of complex construction contract and building development disputes. She specialized in brief writing for state and federal cases throughout the United States, and mentored the firm’s junior associates in civil procedure, litigation strategy, and legal writing. Before that, she was an associate at the Manhattan firm of Thacher, Proffitt & Wood and at the Washington, D.C., area firm Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald, LLP.

In 2014, Brown was appointed to the Fulbright Specialist Roster, through the J. William Fulbright Scholars Program. She studies Italian and has taught legal writing at the University of Trento in Trento, Italy and at Tuscia University in Viterbo, Italy. She received her bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs and French literature from the University of Virginia, and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.



Robin Juni, J.D., Visiting Associate Professor, Fundamentals of Lawyering Program, The George Washington University Law School

Speaking Clearly Exercise: Inviting Students to Assume the Professional Role of Legal Expert, Grapple with Ambiguity, and Make Professional Judgments

Robin Juni is Visiting Associate Professor of Legal Writing at GW Law. A graduate of Hamline University and Harvard Law School, Professor Juni began her career through the Honors Program of the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division. She then practiced almost 15 years at Jones Day, where she was named a “leading” environmental lawyer by a key international reference from 2007 to 2009. Moving to academia, she worked as an assistant dean in the GW Law Dean of Students Office for several years before taking on a full-time teaching role. Professor Juni teaches Fundamentals of Lawyering to first-year students and both Negotiations and Environmental Negotiations to upper-level students. Her research focuses on managing mathematical concepts in advocacy before regulators, judges, and juries.



Jerome Organ, J.D., Bakken Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, University of St. Thomas School of Law

How to Structure Small-Group Student Interviews of Attorneys on Themes Related to Professional Formation

A native of Wisconsin, Jerome M. Organ graduated magna cum laude from Miami University and attended Vanderbilt University School of Law as a Patrick Wilson Scholar. At Vanderbilt, Organ served as an editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review and graduated as a member of the Order of the Coif. After clerking for Justice William G. Callow of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Organ entered private practice with Foley & Lardner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Organ practiced law for five years, predominantly in the environmental law area.

In 1991, Organ left Foley & Lardner to join the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, where he taught property, environmental law, regulation of hazardous substances, land use controls, and client interviewing and counseling. In 2001, Organ became one of the founding faculty members here at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.  He has earned a reputation as a gifted classroom teacher who cares deeply about his students, receiving a Gold Chalk Award at Missouri in 2001 and a Mission Award for Professional Preparation in 2005 and the Dean’s Award for Teaching in 2010 here at the University of St. Thomas.

Organ believes profoundly in the importance of integrating the skills and values of the profession into the doctrinal classroom and in instilling in students an appreciation of the vocation of being a lawyer. Organ is coauthor of Property and Lawyering, a casebook for first year property that integrates lawyering skills and dispute resolution materials. This text and course received the 2003 CPR Institute of Dispute Resolution Award for Problem-Solving in the Law School.

Organ’s scholarship initially focused on environmental law; in particular, on developing more efficient means of resolving environmental disputes and on considering questions of the appropriate locus for environmental regulation — that is, the balance of authority in environmental matters as between the federal government and state and local governments. More recently, he has begun to write about issues associated with the culture of law school and the formation of professional identity.

A strong believer in pro bono activities, Organ tries to model servant leadership for students.  He has invested hundreds of hours in a variety of social justice activities over the last two decades, from providing legal services to people who lack the financial resources to gain access to the legal system to serving as a member of the board of the Central Missouri Food Bank and St. Stephens Human Services, to coaching youth soccer.

Having served for four years as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Organ has recently taken on responsibilities as the Co-director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions.  His current research is directed toward transparency in financial aspects of the decision to attend law school – addressing both scholarship programs for students and employment and salary data of graduates.  In addition, he is working on obtaining funding for a survey of law students to assess the extent to which alcohol consumption, drug use and mental health issues are prevalent among law students.  He also is working with the Holloran Center on developing assessment tools to document the development of professional identity among law students.



Susan Schechter, J.D., Field Placement Director, UC Berkeley School of Law

Professional Formation in Field Placements: Using Lawyer Biographies to Facilitate Faculty-Directed Reflection

Sue Schechter has spent most of her career since graduating from law school in 1988 in law school administration and law student support positions. Prior to coming to Berkeley Law, Schechter worked at Golden Gate University School of Law as the Associate Dean for Student Services; the Honors Lawyering Program Administrative Director; and Assistant Dean for Law Career & Alumni Services.

For more than a decade, Schechter has been teaching in and helping to administer field placement programs. She was an Adjunct/Clinical Professor at Golden Gate and is currently Berkeley Law’s first full-time Field Placement Coordinator working with students doing general field placements, judicial externships, and away placements.

Prior to her work at law schools, Schechter was the Project Director for the Public Interest Clearninghouse’s Public Interest Law Program in San Francisco; a Patients’ Rights Advocate/Attorney at the Mental Health Advocacy Project in Santa Clara County; and as a Campus Organizer/Staff Attorney with the National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL, now known as Equal Justice Works) in Washington, DC.

Schechter has served on a number of committees and maintains memberships in many organizations including but not limited to: AALS, Clinical Section and former Executive Committee Member for the Student Services Section (2003-2005); Co-founder and member of Bay Area Consortium on Externships (1998 – present); former board member and treasurer for La Raza Centro Legal (1998-2000) in San Francisco; Far West Regional Coordinator (1998-1999), Mark of Distinction Award Committee Member (1997-1998), Co-founder and member of the Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender Committee (1994-2000), Vice-Chair Small/Medium Employers Committee (1995-1996) for NALP, the National Association for Law Placement; Board Member and Summer Fellowship Committee Chair for Pride Law Fund (1998-2000); and chair of the State Bar of California, Legal Services Section, Committee on Moderate Income Delivery Chair (1996-1998).



David Thomson, J.D., Professor of Practice, University of Denver, Sturm College of Law

Guided Sequence for Formation of Professional Identity: A Four-Component Model for Consideration and Resolution of Ethical Dilemmas

David joined the Sturm College of Law as a member of the faculty in 2003, but he had taught two courses over six years at DU Law as an adjunct professor in the 1990s, and already had extensive experience as a teacher before that. He practiced law for 20 years, starting at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler in New York City. After several years in New York, he moved to the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Land & Natural Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, where he litigated pollution cases in federal courts all over the country for the EPA. David moved to Denver in 1990 to join the firm of Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons, where he practiced environmental and construction litigation. Later, he joined a startup boutique litigation firm in lower downtown Denver. While there he litigated a variety of cases, including employment, construction, and Native American rights matters. For two years, he represented the Northern Arapahoe tribe in a large tribal trust fund case against the United States.

The first time David taught the legal writing course was at Cardozo Law School in New York over 25 years ago. More recently, he taught the course as a member of the adjunct faculty at DU Law between 1991 and 1997. During that time, he also taught a course in pretrial litigation. Since 2003, David has been a member of the Lawyering Process faculty at DU, where he has taught LP, an upper-level course in the law of Civil Discovery, and occasionally Administrative Law.

David is well known for his expertise in using technology in teaching, and has presented widely across the country on this topic over the last few years. He is the author of Law School 2.0: Legal Education for a Digital Age(LexisNexis/Matthew Bender 2009). He is also a member of the LWI and ALWD, and in 2010 he was elected to the Board of the LWI. In 2007, David was invited to join the LexisNexis Law School Advisory Board, and more recently served as a member of the LexisNexis Publications Advisory Board. In connection with his work on those two boards, he consulted with Lexis about the future of law school casebooks over several years. He is series editor of the Skills & Values Series of hybrid law school textbooks, published by Carolina Academic Press. He has published two books in that series: Skills & Values: Discovery Practice (3rd Edition, Carolina Academic Press, 2017), and Skills & Values: Lawyering Process – Legal Writing and Advocacy (2nd Edition, Carolina Academic Press, 2017).

David is also sought out internationally as an expert on law teaching. In the fall of 2008, he was the keynote speaker for two days at a conference at Peking University Law School for Deans and Associate Deans of law schools in China. More recently, he has been working with law professors at Moscow State University on teaching and assessment, having visited with them in Russia several times since 2014, and having hosted them in Denver in March of 2015 and September of 2016. In addition, he led a workshop for Moscow-based law professors on Law School Assessment Methods in October of 2017. He has also worked with two professors at Université du Québec à Montréal on a book about Digital Transformations across business sectors, having presented at a conference on the same subject in Montreal in October of 2014. In 2017, he gave invited presentations at international legal education conferences in Tokyo, Japan, Prague, Czech Republic, and Moscow, Russia.

David served as Director of the Lawyering Process Program at the Sturm College of Law from 2008 to 2013. From 2013-2015 he was Chair of Experiential Advantage for the law school. In 2015, he was appointed the John C. Dwan Professor for Online Learning. David is the recipient of the University of Denver’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2012. He lives in Denver with his wife Kathy, and two daughters. David publishes a blog on legal education called Law School 2.0.