Orientations on Professionalism
Responding to suggestions from the bench and bar at the Town Hall Meetings that the concept of professionalism needs to be introduced early in a law student's career, the Commission joined the Committee on Professionalism of the State Bar in creating Orientations on Professionalism for first-year law students in Georgia. Begun as a pilot project in 1993, the programs now reach over 800 law students and attract 200 Georgia lawyers and judges who volunteer as group leaders. This program has become a permanent feature of the regular law school orientation at each of the state's five law schools. The majority of the program is devoted to breakout groups where members of the bench and bar lead small group discussions of ethics and professionalism issues raised in hypothetical situations taken from the everyday practice of law, including client relationships. The positive responses to the project from students, law schools, and facilitators assure the continuation of the orientations as a cooperative effort among the law schools, the organized bar, the practicing bar, and the judiciary. The ABA Commission on Partnership Programs selected the State Bar of Georgia Orientations on Professionalism as the recipient of the 1994 ABA/Information America Client Relations Project Award.
Expansion of Law School Orientations
In 1998, Emory Law School expanded the Orientations on Professionalism by making the following innovations to the Orientations on Professionalism:
(1) Law faculty were asked to serve as Group Co-leaders with practitioners to encourage faculty to include discussions of ethics and professionalism issues in first year courses.
(2) Follow up sessions were held in October and February. These sessions followed a format similar to the Breakout Session for the Orientations where students and group leaders discuss ethics and professionalism issues raised by hypothetical situations.
(3) The Breakout Session for the August program included hypos taken solely from the law school experience to make the point that the student's reputation for professionalism begins in law school with the handling of law school professionalism issues. The October and February Breakout Sessions used hypos taken from the law school experience and the practice of law to enable students to begin seeing the connections, and differences, between their professional and ethical responsibilities as law students and as lawyers.
For the expanded Orientation on Professionalism sessions, Emory Law School was the recipient of the 1999 ABA Gambrell Professionalism Award, recognizing projects that enhance professionalism among lawyers.
Upper Level Law School Programs
Since 1996, the Commission and the Committee on Professionalism have created pilot programs on professionalism geared to second and third year students. These programs were developed in response to requests by students and group leaders at the Orientations on Professionalism that such interactive programs with participation by lawyers and judges be conducted in each year of the law school experience. Various themes and materials are used, based on the inclinations of the law school, but the format for each program uses breakout groups of students and members of the bench and bar who lead discussions of ethics and professionalism issues. One format uses The Case of the Silent Alarm to stimulate discussion of dilemmas involving the tension between zealous representation and overstepping professional bounds. Another program seeks to provide a link between legal academia and the profession through study of the text Lives of Lawyers by Professor Michael Kelly of Georgetown University School of Law, followed by sessions where practitioners from different practice contexts give their views of how one's professional life and challenges may be affected by the setting of one's practice. For second year students, some schools have used "Looking Ahead - Preparing fo the Summer Experience," and for third year students, "Debriefing the Summer Experience." Emory University School of Law uses its Statement of Fundamental Values as the basis of Upper Level Professionalism Programs.