CEFLER Co-Founder Professor Benjamin Madison presented at the 43rd ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility.
Madison was part of a panel on “Professional Identity Formation in Public and Faith-Based Legal Education,” along with four other professors from public law schools (one of which was another faith-based school) across the country. The aim of the panel was to discuss unique methods of creating a law school environment in which students could reflect on their own morals and integrate them into their future practice of law.
The end goal is to help students form their own professional identities. Rather than considering what Madison calls “external” morals, e.g. being kind and honest, students should focus on “internal” morals that reflect their own individual character. In doing so, students can reconcile ethics and professionalism.
Why is that important? Because of what can happen when one’s actions are not in accordance with one’s beliefs, an issue that Madison says has led to higher rates of suicide and substance abuse among lawyers compared to other professions. “This is not because of stress,” says Madison. “But because of people making decisions that are inconsistent with their values.”
Madison points to a quote by Reed Elizabeth Loder in her article, Integrity and Epistemic Passion: “[S]harp separation between lawyers’ professional and personal identities can actually lead to emotional maladjustment.” Thus, the formation of one’s own professional identity is becoming a topic that an ever-growing number of law schools are attempting to address before students practice law in real life settings.