Library Blog

Professional Identity Formation: A Book Display

Professionals shaking hands

Professional identity has been defined as “the way a lawyer understands his or her role relative to all of the stakeholders in the legal system, including clients, courts, opposing parties and counsel, the firm, and even the legal system itself (or society as a whole).” While you are busy briefing cases and staying current on readings for classes, you probably are not spending a lot of time mulling over the concept of professional identity formation. However, professional identity formation is happening throughout your legal education.

A recent study at Harvard Law School noted that, “Over the course of their legal education, students bound for large corporate law firms tended to report increasing professional role distancing. In contrast, students who pursued jobs in the public‐interest sector tended to sustain a more proximate conception of professional identity, overlapping with racial, gender, political, and other centrally constitutive roles.” How you view yourself as a lawyer might be different depending on what type of lawyering and what type of practice appeals to you.  

Organizational skills, communication skills, leadership, and emotional intelligence development are all components of professional identity. This book display contains easy-to-read books from our collection on these topics. Of particular interest, the book Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence by Ronda Muir is the first book written specifically for lawyers about practicing law with emotional intelligence. It argues in detail that emotionally intelligent lawyers are smarter, better practitioners, and make more money.

This semester consider taking a short break from your case briefs and read up a little on professional identity formation. It just might help you gain perspective on your legal education and your role as a lawyer!

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