Professors Alleva & McGinniss Present on Professional Foundations at the AALS 2015 Annual Meeting

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News Article

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School of Law


On Saturday, January 3, 2015, Professors Patti Alleva and Michael McGinniss presented as part of a panel program of the Association of American Law Schools (“AALS”), Section on Teaching Methods at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Along with three faculty members from the Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law, they developed and presented an interactive program entitled Incorporating Teaching Professional Identity Into the Legal Education Curriculum. Professors Alleva and McGinniss contributed insights derived from their experiences designing, coordinating, and teaching in UND School of Law’s innovative, Faculty Team-taught first-year course Professional Foundations (or, “ProfFound”), which will be offered for the second time this spring. The full panel addressed a series of discussion questions about their school’s experiences in teaching a first-year course focused on professional identity, and then each school had an opportunity to lead an interactive exercise or otherwise demonstrate the teaching methodologies for their course. An important goal was to provide session attendants with pedagogy ideas about professional formation that they could import into their own curricula.

ProfFound explicitly asks students to engage in studied self-reflection about twelve core professional qualities of a “good lawyer,” including attributes such as adaptability, diligence, courage, honesty, humility, integrity, loyalty, and patience. The course explores these qualities through life-like lawyering scenarios that implicate their meaning and application, and ask students to confront the questions “What would I do or how would I feel as a lawyer dealing with those issues in these particular situations?”

Thus, ProfFound is primarily designed to provide students with intentional, interactive opportunities to either work in role or to discuss realistic lawyering situations where they must consider (1) first, what it means to act as a fiduciary on someone else’s behalf and (2) second, within that context, what it means to square personal and professional values. From these main course goals flow two subsidiary goals of helping students to envision their own career paths, and then of demonstrating, through group work, the power and importance of collaborative skills and idea-sharing in professional settings.