What can Information Systems Education Learn about Professionalization from Law Education?
Jeffry Babb West Texas A&M University
Joanna Kimbell West Texas A&M University
Abstract The global impact of information technology cannot be overstated and, many years into the Information Age and at the cusp of even deeper impacts of Information Technology. Cybersecurity, and Artificial Intelligence, the Information Systems discipline remains unclear of its place and its voice in the broader context of societal impacts. Whereas the computing disciplines’ impact to society can be established with increasing clarity and gravity, the structures of self-governance and disciplinary organizing in computing are less clear. Overall, as disciplines mature and transform, the academy can play a role in defining responsibility, accountability, and leadership, in alignment with professional practice. This paper examines key developments in the history of Law and Law education from the unique perspective of the practice of and education in Law in the State of Texas. With a unique history in a journey to become one of the 50 states in the United States of America, the structures of professionalizing in the Law profession in Texas, and the constraints under which those structures evolved, can provide actionable insights for pathways for Information Systems education to embrace. An analysis of the history of the professionalizing of Law, and Law education in Teas, provides opportunities to better understand professionalizing within the computing disciplines. The paper offers recommendations for IS educators from which the ethical considerations relevant to computing can lead to more concrete actions for professionalizing. These lessons are intended to extend beyond coverage of computing ethics often undertaken at the behest of accreditors and/or boards of regents. Care is afforded to understand key moments in the history of Law education in Texas and offer reflections of the practice of Law and the professionalizing of that practice in the historical account. Whereas the practice of Law will have some dissimilarities to computing, the paper posits that the societal impacts of failure, liability, and responsibility in the professionalizing of Law offers valuable lessons for the professional practice of computing. Additionally, the paper examines trends and phenomena that lead also to de-professionalization and the implications this has for both computing and Law. While there are some movements towards increased professionalizing in IS education, a study of a more mature discipline, such as Law, may offer key guidance at what is undoubtedly a critical juncture in the developing maturity of the computing disciplines such as Information Systems.