Self-Directedness and Professional Formation

CEFLER founders Dean Natt Gantt and Professor Ben Madison recently performed original research in two separate surveys--one designed to ask a large number of law students their primary goals, and the other seeking to have students self-assess their degree of self-assessment.

Download the paper here >>

The first survey, of a large number of students at a variety of law schools across the nation, showed that students chose--after passing the Bar exam--the goal of "meaningful employment" as the single most sought goal. The finding is significant because another choice in the survey allowed students to choose income to pay debts and for living, but students still chose the "meaningful employment" option at a higher rate than purely income.

The second survey, again of a large number of students at a variety of school across the country, had students self-assess the degree to which they were "self-directed." Even accounting for the social desirability bias known to be common in surveys of this variety, a large number of students rated themselves as not self-directed.

The authors took the results of these surveys and discuss their implications. Students want meaningful employment. Nevertheless, many if not most have not recognized the need to make a plan to pursue such employment. Most students have not identified the areas of law that best match their strengths and values. Moreover, most students do not have an intentional plan for exploring roles in the legal profession that would match their strengths, values, and interests. Only a small number of students have a written plan.

The authors explore how law schools can help students in seeking their goal by cultivating self-direction and development of a plan to move toward their goal. The article discusses efforts at a number of law schools to implement courses, coaching of students by faculty, and the like as efforts to help students in this regard. The authors see the development of self-directed behavior, or self-regulated behavior, as a component of the development of each law student's professional identity. Recommendations for further action, and further research, are included.

Download the paper here >>

CEFLER CoSponsors Symposium on Anniversary of MacCrate Report, Carnegie Report, and Best Practices for Legal Education Report

On Feb. 17, 2017, CEFLER co-sponsored a symposium at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in downtown Minneapolis focusing on developments over the last 25 years since the publication of the MacCrate Report, and over the last 10 years, since the publication of Educating Lawyers and Best Practices.

"The Next Steps of a Professional Formation Movement" was hosted by the Holloran Center, and co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center, the Parris Institute for Professional Formation at the Pepperdine University School of Law, the Center for Ethical Formation and Legal Education at the Regent University School of Law, and the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism.

The symposium looked back at developments in professional identity formation within legal education since the MacCrate Report and Educating Lawyers and Best Practices, while also looking at professional identity formation efforts in other cultures and disciplines, such as the military and medicine. The symposium also will focus on why now is a particularly appropriate time for legal educators to place more emphasis on professional identity formation.

Dean Natt Gantt and Professor Ben Madison, co-founders of Regent’s Center, presenedt at the Symposium. They joined representatives of the American Bar Association, William Sullivan (lead author of the 2007 Carnegie Institute’s Educating Lawyers, as well as distinguished faculty from law schools across the country.

Dean Hernandez Discusses CEFLER During Radio Interview

Regent Law Dean Michael Hernandez was recently interviewed by law alum Noel Sterret ('06), a partner with Mauck & Baker, LLC in Chicago.  During the "Lawyers for Jesus" podcast, Dean Hernandez talks about the Center for Ethical Formation.  Click the player below to listen to the interview (hear about CEFLER at the 17:20 mark).

Regent Law Professor Jeffrey Brauch Speaks at Michigan State University College of Law on "A Higher Law"

Professor Brauch with the leadership of the CLS chapter

I had a great visit to East Lansing, Michigan this week to discuss the existence of a higher law with about 80 Michigan State University College of Law students.  Together we explored whether there is a transcendent standard of moral right and wrong that provides a basis for human law and a standard by which human law can be evaluated. We began by discussing Dr. Martin Luther King's appeal to a higher law to justify his willingness to disobey laws that protected racial segregation. We then discussed the rich heritage of higher law thinking found in the Anglo-American legal tradition (from Bracton to Coke, Blackstone, Jefferson, and King). And we discussed the deep skepticism that exists today about the existence of such a law.

Probably the most important part of our discussion was why the idea of a higher law is more than just an interesting philosophical or historical discussion. Whether there is a higher law matters deeply to how we approach such pressing issues as biotechnology and human rights today. The students were engaged and asked great questions. It was a joy to be with them.

Thanks to the warm and generous student organizations that sponsored my visit: Christian Legal Society, St. Thomas More Society, and the Federalist Society. And special thanks to CLS president Micaiah Owens who took care of all of the arrangements. It was a fun - and I hope meaningful - visit.

See Professor Brauch's scholarship related to professional development and ethical fromation on CEFLER's Regent Law Faculty Publications page >

Ben Madison Speaks at 5th Annual Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Conference

In September 2016, Professor Benjamin Madison, Professor and Co-Director for the Center for Ethical Formation & Legal Education, spoke at the 5th Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference on "Remembering Carnegie's Third Apprenticeship: A Learning Outcome and Course Designed to Advance Professional/Ethical Formation and Decision-Making.

View his presentation below:

Professor Ben Madison Presents at 2016 SEALS Conference

On August 3-9, CEFLER Co-director Professor Ben Madison presented at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Annual (SEALS) Conference.

Madison's first presentation was with Lynne Marie Kohm, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and External Affairs at Regent University School of Law.  The two introduced Regent Law's curriculum changes in program assessments. Although such developments are now an expectation by ABA Standard 315, Regent was among the first in the group of schools attending the presentation to make curriculum changes based on taking selected program learning outcomes.  As Professor Madison commented, “I have received a number of requests after the SEALS Conference for the materials we developed to get to the point at which we’re actually gathering data on the extent to which our J.D. program is meeting the Program Learning Outcomes our faculty has adopted.”

Dean Lynne Marie Kohm with Professor Madison

Madison's other two talks were on ways to improve formative assessments so that students receive meaningful feedback during the semester rather than having the final exam as their first indication of how they're really doing.  Madison is a fan of this approach.   Another new ABA standard, Standard 314, requires that law schools employment formative assessments (in-semester evaluations designed to give “meaningful feedback” to students, and also to use multiple summative (graded) assessments rather than the traditional end-of-semester final exam as the sole grade.  "To me that's as much about the legal academy recognizing its own professional identity as teachers and to provide superior methods to enhance student learning, in both doctrinal courses, clinical courses, and courses that address ethical decisions," he said.

Between 700 and 1000 folks attended the 2016 conference, held at Amelia Island Resort. Other Regent Law faculty in attendance included Dean Michael Hernandez and Professors Jim Duane, Tom Folsom, Tessa Dysart, and newest faculty member Caleb Griffin.  Professor Madison and Tessa Dysart are members of SEALS New Law Teachers Committee, responsible for programming to help new professor prepare to teach courses for the first time and best practices to use in that process.

"Three presentations in three days was draining," said Professor Madison, "but it was also an atmosphere of professors trading ideas, encouraging one another, and generally having a good time."

L to R: Dean Kohm, Prof. James Duane, former Regent Law Prof. Haskell Murray, and Prof. Tom Folsom

Learn more about SEALS on their website:
The Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS), a regional association of law schools, hosts an annual meeting that is held in late July or early August. A highlight of the meeting is the New Scholars Workshop which offers newer faculty the opportunity to present a work in progress, and to receive feedback from assigned mentors and audience participants.
The meeting also offers legal educators panels and discussion groups that focus on pedagogy; thus offering law professors an opportunity to enhance their classroom teaching. 
Finally, it provides numerous panels and discussion groups of a host of cutting-edge topics that will prove important for both scholarly works and teaching covering the breadth of legal issues.  Because the meeting attracts scholars from all over the U.S., indeed from around the world, the discussions can be lively and intense.

Associate Dean Gantt Featured as August Harvey Fellow

The Harvey Fellows Program provides scholarships to Christian students who are pursuing graduate studies at premier universities in fields considered to be underrepresented by Christians and who possess a unique vision to impact society through their vocations.

Initiated by the Mustard Seed Foundation (MSF) in 1992, the Harvey Fellows Program seeks to mark, equip and encourage individuals to actively integrate their faith and vocation as leaders in strategic occupations.  Through the program, the Foundation seeks to identify, prepare, and celebrate this generation's Daniels, Esthers, Josephs and Lydias - people of God willing and able to assume positions of leadership and influence for the cause of Christ in fields such as media, government, scientific research, industry, the arts, and higher education.

Harvey Fellows come from around the globe and work in diverse fields. Currently there are over 300 Harvey Fellows worldwide, representing twenty-four countries and over forty academic and vocational fields. Click here for a listing of all current and senior Harvey Fellows by field of study.

The following is from the Harvey Fellows Quarterly August 2016 newsletter, which features Professor and Associate Dean Natt Gantt.  Dean Gantt received a Harvey Fellowship in 1993 to help fund his studies at Harvard Law School.  He was also selected to be Secretary of the Harvey Fellows Advisory Board earlier this year.

L.O. Natt Gantt, II '93
Professor and Associate Dean, Regent University School of Law

Sara VanderHaagen, HFAB Communications Chair: How would you described your vocation, and how are you pursuing that in your current position?
Natt Gantt: I always have had a heart to see people's lives transformed by the power of God.  Lawyers often face significant ethical dilemmas in the profession, so it is enormously enriching to teach at a Christian law school where I can inspire my students to develop a biblical framework for ethical decision-making.  In teaching legal ethics and my other courses, I also challenge my students to be "salt and light" in the legal profession.  Furthermore, it is incredibly rewarding to write, speak, and engage the legal academy and profession in ways that motivate us to develop lawyers of character and integrity.

SV: How has being a Harvey Fellow affected your vocation and life? 
NG: Receiving the Harvey Fellowship was a blessing that furthered my desire to integrate my faith into my professional calling.  Since receiving the fellowship many years ago, I have been inspired and encouraged in my own work as I see all the amazingly gifted applicants who have received fellowships over the years and are making a kingdom impact in their respective fields.

SV: What about your work most excites or inspires you right now?
NG: Legal education right now is in the midst of tremendous change, and one of the current pressures on legal educators is that we have to do a better job helping our students develop their professional identity.  This pressure creates an exciting opportunity for Christian law professors, as we can discuss with the broader academy and profession the importance of cultivating values and encouraging moral formation in law students and young lawyers.

SV: What about God's work most excites or inspires you right now?
NG: In interacting with my students and Regent colleagues and with lawyers and professors from other institutions, I am continually inspired to see how God impacts the lives of others--many times in environments where I don't expect it.  We indeed put Him in a box when we overlook how He can touch the lives of others in "secular" professions.