Inculcating Professional Identity

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Long title: 
Inculcating Professional Identity and Teaching Ethics to Trainee Solicitors in Ireland
Author(s): 
Grealy, Freda
Author(s)' contact information: 
Law Society of Ireland, Ireland
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London
Country: 
Ireland (Republic of)
Year: 
2014

The notion of transformation, and what you become as a result of your law school or vocational training experience, has exercised the minds of many legal educationalists over time. The apprenticeship model of solicitor training in Ireland is split between time spent in the training firm and time spent in professional training at the Law Society of Ireland. Learning in law is a process of shaping identity and becoming part of a community, and professional socialisation is a key aspect of this professional development (Sommerlad 2007, Cardoba & Gulati 2000, Wenger & Lave, 1991). This presentation outlines an empirical research study conducted with trainee solicitors who are coming to an end of their traineeship period in Ireland. The methodology employed is an experimental intervention in the form of an eight week course entitled ‘Certificate in Legal Ethics and Lawyering Skills’. The course takes a multidisciplinary and experiential learning approach, exposing trainees to other disciplines such as sociology, philosophy and psychology with a view to encouraging and supporting them to reflect on internalising their ‘role’ as lawyers and their future career in law. A key part of moral professional identity formation is an ability to engage in ethical moral reasoning and this requires more than learning the professional conduct rules and narrow courses on legal ethics. Therefore, this research draws on the moral psychology and the theories of James Rest and the ‘Defining Issues Test’ and the work of Muriel Bebeau arising from the ‘Four Component Model’ to frame the teaching of legal ethics and professional values for trainees.

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