Benjamin Grimes

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Professional identity is a mercurial thing. It is a combination of skills, values, and ways of thinking that identifies us to others and forms the basis of our understanding of ourselves. But why should we endeavor to affirmatively instill a certain identity-or to provide the seeds of professional identity-in our students and young attorneys? To what end is identity useful, what elements are important, and how do we do it?

Unlike the many participants in this Symposium and contributors to this issue of the Mercer Law Review, I am neither an academic nor a remarkable practitioner. I have taught new attorneys, LL.M. students, and trial practitioners, but I was a professor of law for only a short time. What I offer below are my reflections on identity after a career in the Army as a lawyer, officer, and leader. Like all such commentary, mine is intensely personal, informed by my experiences, and influenced by my present stage-transitioning out of uniform and my insular military practice and into a broader profession whose breadth and diversity is amazing. I offer my experiences to you as an example of the power of identity, to remind educators that your students are listening, and to inspire students and new attorneys with the knowledge that it really does matter who you are and what you become.