Holloran Center

for Ethical Leadership in the Professions

Our Research Program

The Holloran Center’s research addresses the most compelling ethical issue facing education in the professions and business: How can higher education most effectively foster the ethical professional formation of each student and practicing professional? The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, based on multi-year empirical studies of higher education for clergy, lawyers, engineers, nurses and physicians, finds that: “In every field we studied, we concluded that the most overlooked aspect of professional preparation was the formation of a professional identity with a moral core of service and responsibility around which the habits of mind and practice could be organized.” (Carnegie 2010). Ethical leadership in the professions rests on a foundation of an ethical professional identity.

Carnegie Foundation’s study of legal education, Educating Lawyers (2007) found a particular need to “revitalize legal preparation” by focusing on the development of each student’s ethical professional identity (professionalism) through the use of research-validated pedagogical approaches and acculturation processes. However Carnegie’s researchers could find no research on the extent to which legal education influences results in the internalization of the profession’s ethical-social values into the students’ professional and personal lives.

The Center’s scholarship agenda addresses the need for empirical research that Carnegie Foundation has identified in its studies. Since the challenge of ethical professional formation is the same across the peer-review professions, we can learn from and contribute to empirical research from any of the professions. We are significant contributors to an emerging empirical scholarship on the formation of an ethical professional identity in the professions and business. This early research shows that an ethical professional identity based less on short-term self-interest and more on awareness of and responsibility for the consequences of one’s decisions for others and to society is not simply a matter of personality, innate traits, or virtues learned in childhood. An ethical professional identity can be intentionally fostered across a career-span.

Our goal is to change the existing paradigm and culture both of graduate education in the professions and business and among practicing professionals to learn from and contribute to this developing body of research across the professions.


Lead Scholars of the Holloran Center

Neil Hamilton, M.A., J.D., is Professor of Law and Director of the Holloran Center. Hamilton teaches Professional Responsibility, Administrative Law, and Ethical Leadership. His scholarship focuses on professionalism, ethical leadership, and the empirical evidence related to lawyer and law firm effectiveness.  He is a former associate dean for academic affairs of the University of St Thomas School of Law.

Jerry Organ, J.D., is Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Holloran Center. Organ teaches Foundations of Justice and Property Law. His scholarship focuses on transparency within law schools of reporting employment outcomes data, vocation, law school culture, Catholic social teaching, and group learning.