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Journal of the Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics

Authors

Amy R. Mashburn

Publication Date

1-1-1999

Introduction

In a sense, mine is a cautionary tale. While I was on sabbatical and out of the country, our dean decided that we were going to have a Center for Professionalism at the University of Florida College of Law, and I was going to be the director of it. This was an interesting career development because my reaction to the professionalism movement has been skeptical, to say the least. I was persuaded, however, that law schools, and in particular, state schools like mine, should respond to persistent calls from the bar and bench to do something about the so-called professionalism crisis. Ironically, the process of developing a program for our students has proven educational for me. After six months of working with these issues, I now believe that instruction in professionalism, broadly defined, can encompass many worthwhile pursuits and that the benefits of engaging in an ongoing conversation about such matters may be justification enough for our efforts.

Our dean wanted the committee that I chaired to explore what he called a "value-driven" program. Of course, any list of values and ideals to which the legal profession and lawyers ought to be devoted invariably includes a commitment to encourage or ensure access to justice for all persons. Thus, one of the issues confronting legal educators designing a professionalism program is determining what we can or should be doing to instill a commitment to equal access to justice in our students or to otherwise advance that interest.

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