LAW SCHOOL STRESS AND CAREER BOOKLETS
THOUGHTS ABOUT TIMING AND USE
I offer here some combined feedback and experience about times that may maximize student benefit from these booklets. Please keep in mind that if you'd like to distribute this year in August, it will require early consideration since we will likely be unable to process orders during July.
If you are providing booklets to 2L's and/or 3L's, practically any time is appropriate for either booklet. (Upper-class students often say they wish they had read the information earlier.) For use with new 1L's, however, different factors come into play. Many deans use orientation; some deans prefer to distribute later, at least a few weeks after the semester begins; and others mail booklets during the summer before orientation.
Orientation or other timing?
There are a couple of good reasons not to prefer 1L orientation for distribution of the booklets. This is, of course, a convenient time as students are together and receiving handouts, and if it is the only time possible for you, then it can work. However, the convenience also points up one of the major problems. Students at this time are usually already inundated with administrative and educational materials, new ideas, and new experiences. Therefore, many students may not have the attention for the reflective reading needed to assimilate the deeper life lessons the booklets offer.
There is a second timing issue with orientation, of equal concern. Assuming students do sort the booklets out from the other orientation handouts and give them attention, some students may be unreceptive to the messages at this point in time. Entering law students are quite confident as a result of their typically successful lives thus far, and they are also excited at the prospect of starting law school. Hence, while they will certainly understand the concepts in the booklets if they do the reading, many will not relate to the ideas until they have actually experienced law school for a few weeks.
With this in mind, I suggest a few alternatives to consider:
For second-term 1L's, I would treat as 2L or 3L students for this purpose: Provide them copies as early as possible and implement some of the other ideas to generate reflection and discussion.
Sequencing of Career Choices booklet
Law students are typically quite unsophisticated about how to choose personally appropriate work. In-depth consideration is necessary, but rarely undertaken without guidance. It is therefore critical to most students' future life satisfaction that they begin early with accurate information and helpful perspectives. This booklet seeks to provide this guidance by reinforcing and extending the concepts in the stress booklet to their specific thinking about jobs and career.
Timing: This booklet has been helpful for students at all stages of law school. It discusses concerns that students bring to law school and suggests constructive steps toward career definition that can be taken in each year of law school. Entering 1L's could benefit from this material a few weeks or months after the first booklet; more advanced students at any time. If you decide to distribute the booklets together, you could suggest that students read them in the order described, leaving some weeks between readings. If students are immediately interested and go through both booklets at once, that is fine. Their interest will guide them to the parts most useful to them, and all of the information in both booklets is consistent and mutually reinforcing.