Law school is supposed to teach legal analysis and lawyering skills as well as mold law students’ professional identities. Pro Bono work provides an opportunity for law students to use their legal knowledge and skills and to develop their identities as emerging legal professionals. As important as both pro bono work and identity formation are, there has been very little research regarding how pro bono contributes to students’ identity formation. This paper utilizes a data set of over forty student-client consultations at a pro bono brief advice clinic that have been recorded and transcribed. It uses conversation analysis to study the approaches students take in presenting themselves to clients. These students are volunteers supervised by pro bono attorneys and are not enrolled in a clinic or class designed to teach lawyering skills or to explore professional ethics. As a result, their presentations of themselves are largely untutored portraits. The paper mines this rich data set to understand not only the inclinations of the students but also how law schools might best guide and assist students to reflect upon and develop their professional identities in the context of their clinic volunteering.
68 Cleve. St. L. Rev. 250 (2020)