Professionalism Online

AuthorRebecca Purdom - Greg Brandes - Karen Westwood
Chapter 9
Professionalism Online
More and more, law and legal practice are moving online. Appropriate online behavior, including the
concept sometimes called netiquette, has become an important aspect of professionalism.
A sample Online Behavior Policy is attached in Appendix E of this document. It is important for an
institution to have a robust online etiquette policy that outlines appropriate and inappropriate behavior,
and that articulates expectations and penalties. Some programs find themselves stymied early on when
behaviors which would typically be checked interpersonally in a residential setting become problematic in
the online space. Developing immediate responses and providing avenues for redress is a critical aspect of
developing a respectful and resilient program.
This chapter addresses:
Asynchronous courses. How can institutions guide students in practicing professional written
discourse within an asynchronous course?
Synchronous courses. How should institutions model, teach, and evaluate appropriate live
visual or audio interaction in synchronous settings?
Faculty and instructor online behavior. The permanence of recorded sessions and written
material present a risk that instructors or students may be perceived in a less than ideal light.
How can institutions promote professionalism on the part of teaching staff?
Asynchronous Courses
Asynchronous delivery of online courses can be both beneficial and challenging, giving students a chance
to reflect outside of the real-time classroom setting, but it also requires students to have stronger time
management skills to effectively interact with their peers. Knowing the proper contacts for technology
and course content questions and familiarity with the technology being used are both imperative for
working within the parameters of an asynchronous course.
In general, the asynchronous course model can be viewed as a precursor to the student’s professional life,
with the sort of email and other electronic communications and the responses, deadlines, and interactions
they will experience in practice taking place on a less-structured level than in a synchronous course.
Synchronous Courses
Students in regular law school classes generally govern their behavior by adhering to widely recognized
norms. For a few students, these norms do not automatically carry over to synchronous online classes. In
these cases, no longer guided by conventional classroom norms, they comfortably and regularly engage in

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