In recent years, significant questions are being raised about whether the legal profession is the noble calling it should be. Central to these questions are concerns about deficiencies in meeting ethical responsibilities and the profession’s failure to effectively address the access to justice crisis in this country. The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, with generous support from the Moser Family Philanthropic Fund, has taken a leadership role in addressing these concerns through new emphasis on ethics and professionalism in its curriculum, outreach to the profession, and more direct involvement in projects advancing access to justice.
We’d like to especially thank the Moser family for making this important work possible. The University of Maryland Carey School of Law continues to be at the forefront of cutting-edge curricular advancements because of wonderful supporters like the Mosers.
In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching issued its report on legal education. The report, in part, focused on the need for law schools to devote more attention to developing students’ ethical, practice-based and social interaction skills. In response to this call for action, in 2008 the Fetzer Institute made a three-year $1.6 million funding commitment to the University of Maryland School of Law to help it respond to these challenges and create a Leadership, Ethics and Democracy program ("LEAD"). The law school recognized that students enter law school with little understanding about the legal profession and what lawyers do. Students need thorough grounding in what it means to be in a profession, what obligations flow from that status, how a lawyer’s values relate to his or her professional obligations, what types of moral and ethical problems lawyers confront, and what problems the profession faces now, and why.
The projects the LEAD Initiative undertook “help[ed] students develop cross-cultural competencies, their full leadership potential, and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the professional responsibility of lawyers,” noted Michael Millemann, Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law and a key architect of the law school’s nationally acclaimed clinical programs.
The LEAD Initiative produced a book, Law and Leadership: Integrating Leadership Studies into the Law School Curriculum, and a Symposium issue of the Maryland Law Review entitled The Profession and the Academy: Addressing Major Changes in Law Practice, both of which detail the foundational work completed during the three-year partnership. After the conclusion of the grant period, the School of Law continued the work generated by the LEAD Initiative through the Moser Ethics in Action Initiative.
Building on the LEAD Initiative, the law school is now well-positioned—with support from the Moser family—to continue this important work through the Moser Ethics in Action Initiative. Liz Moser, wife of the late Peter Moser, the Initiative’s namesake, developed this project to help the school do far more in enhancing focus on ethics and professionalism throughout our curriculum and in involving the law school more actively in confronting and finding solutions to problems within the legal profession.