University of Denver

“It's Important to Think Like a Lawyer, But It's Also Important to Feel Like a Lawyer”

The Legal Profession course at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, taught by Professor Bill Henderson, advances students' professional skills through a 1L competency model that focuses on active listening, empathy, self-awareness, asking questions, presentations and resilience. Henderson notes:

“We decided that this had to be in the 1st year for a couple of different reasons. One of them pertained to the findings of the Carnegie Report saying that the law school does a terrific job of the cognitive apprenticeship…but, because it's so pervasive and it's such a transformative event, it crowds out other aspects of being a lawyer. So, maybe it's important to think like a lawyer but, it's also important to feel like a lawyer, and feel like a professional.”

The use of personality and motivational assessment tools help students identify their strengths, opportunities for development, and values to help align them with potential career opportunities.

“What we are hoping to do with this course is to inspire students to embrace their professional identity by showing them not only examples of bad lawyering but, examples of great lawyering and how lawyers make a difference in society.”

The course introduces students to real-life work settings by putting them into team-based projects with peer feedback and overall team grades.

The Legal Profession further puts the model rules in context of practice in numerous settings. Andrew Winetroub, a former student states:

“I learned in the Legal Professions course the ethical rules in a much more robust manner—we very much worked through them whether it was thorough role-playing or through various writing assignments and really interact with the rules.”

This course was featured as our newest course portfolio. Click here to see the full course portfolio which includes video interviews, materials, and a course overview.