For The Record

Our alumni do some pretty remarkable work. Take U.S. Navy Reserve Rear Adm. Andrew Burcher, L’97, for example. He serves as NATO’s commander of submarines. Or Cassandra Emery, L’04, who leads a Richmond-area nonprofit. Matt Dahl, L’09, is a global threat analyst with a cybersecurity firm.

You might not guess that lawyers would hold these three positions. However, the skills and attributes that good lawyers bring to the table — a systematic way of thinking, a leadership mindset, and the ability to innovate — are the very ones that make our alumni successful in the many and varied roles that lawyers play.

Here at Richmond Law, we continue to provide the foundations of an outstanding legal education that will equip our students for practice — whether that’s commanding a submarine fleet or assessing cyberthreats. At the same time, we’re looking toward the future and the changing nature of legal practice by helping our students develop the habits of mind and character they need to be effective lawyers.

One manifestation of that work is the new Professional Identity Formation program that you’ll read about in these pages. As program director Janice Craft describes, professional identity formation is about guiding students in discerning their own values, strengths, and motivating interests in relation to their individual practice, the legal profession, and society. Through this program, our students become more self-aware — and self-directed — in the workplace.

Qualities like self-awareness — along with interpersonal skills, other-mindedness, and yes, a thorough knowledge of the law — are the hallmark of today’s exceptional lawyers. What’s exciting to see is that as our students prepare for the legal profession of the 21st century, they’re also helping shape it. As they explore the values and skills they’ll bring to bear in the professional realm, we can see a glimpse of the next generation of great lawyers. And based on my experiences with our students, I’d say that the future is bright.