Below are some messages to you from experienced law teachers who focus directly on the health and welfare of their students. They are intended to provide some perspectives and advice about the issues of health and life/career satisfaction as a law student and lawyer.
You can review new booklets, written specifically to help you (1) reduce the stress of law school, (2) improve your learning performance, and (3) find a genuinely satisfying career.
The bibliography also identifies specific articles offering advice to law students. My article (Krieger) listed there has been used at other law schools, and students report that the principles are very helpful in easing their concerns and the pressure they feel. Here are some excerpts most often mentioned by students:
Andrew Benjamin speaks from the perspective of a J.D., mental health researcher, and psychologist-counselor at a major law school.
Daisy Floyd summarizes student experiences in her recent seminar on the law school experience. She explains the strong points about law school reported to her, the problems involving well being and depression that students often encountered, and the many ways the seminar experience helped her students.
Paula Franceze provides perspectives "On Grades", an excerpt from her guidebook for law students.
Gerry Hess gives his thoughts as the founding director of the Institute for Law School Teaching
Law teacher web sites
Susan Daicoff studies the personality traits of lawyers and law students, and is very active in developing and chronicling the "comprehensive law" movement. Her articles give insight into all of the research on our personalities, potential strengths and problems. Comprehensive law includes the many developing approaches to law practice which seek more constructive/cooperative, and less confrontational/divisive processes.
Barbara Glesner-Fines lists a broad range of resources for students, and gives an annual orientation talk with four pieces of crucial advice to help students adjust properly to law school. She summarizes here: As in any major role transition, the journey from student to attorney can be difficult. The process of legal education - with its emphasis on critical thinking and independent learning skills - demands more of students than most have ever been required to produce. Moreover, the education and socialization process can sometimes challenge the very self-identity of law students: from a conception of themselves as "A students" (only a small percentage can now wear that title) to a vision of their role in the legal system. In the Teaching and Learning Law Web site, I provide links for help in coping with the educational and socialization demands of law school."
James Elkins has written a group of articles he calls "A Beginner's Guide to Legal Education". One of those articles, "The Transformation of Self ", is one good beginning for thinking about who you are, and who you want to be after graduation. Be aware: recent research strongly suggests that you are unlikely to actually transform your "self". In fact, some of the articles and messages from teachers included here discuss the problems inherent in not paying attention to the intrinsic needs and values you bring to law school.
Personal and Career Development, Work/Life Excellence, personal test instruments Many resources for these purposes are included on web sites listed below, including Renaissance Lawyer, Transforming Practices, Work/Life Excellence, and the Florida Bar. A few of the many excellent guides to personal development and constructive attitudes/approaches to life excellence are listed in the "personal development, well being, and emotional health" section of the bibliography. Numerous self-testing instruments are located at Queendom.com (Cautionary note: many of these instruments may be widely used, but the instruments on this Web site have not been screened or evaluated by us. Please proceed with caution and common sense, and if you feel you might be depressed or significantly distressed, do not rely on self-testingspeak directly to your dean of students or a professional!!)
Authentic HappinessI strongly recommend this new book on career and life satisfaction by Dr. Martin Seligman, a recent president of the American Psychological Association. The book is remarkable for its scientific grounding, breadth of coverage and depth of explanation of different factors affecting one's happiness. Many practical suggestions are provided to help readers apply the information. The author even includes a section on WHY LAWYERS ARE UNHAPPY, which he offers as an example of how one can apply the information in the book to maximize well-being in life. The book provides established self-evaluation instruments for many related parameters, including optimism/pessimism and personal strengths. There is a related Web site which also offers a number of self-evaluation instruments that can be done on line for immediate feedback.
About Stress, Depression, Fatigue, Alcohol/substance abuse, Eating problems . . .
You can do a search for the many web sites specifically directed toward stress management, depression and anxiety issues, and addictive or compulsive behaviors such as alcohol/substance abuse, eating disorders, gambling, overwork or overspending. Because these problems are increasingly experienced by lawyers, "lawyer assistance" programs (LAP's) have become common across the United States. Many of the resources for lawyers, including confidential counseling, recovery assistance, and stress management are also made available to law students through these programs. The Florida Lawyer's Assistance Program is one such exemplary program with many resources; you may benefit from contacting the "LAP" in your home state. The Florida Bar Committee on Quality of Life and Career also maintains a web site which lists and links to various resources for lawyers and law students. Some excellent books for addressing depression and unhealthy attitudes or behaviors are listed in the "personal development, well being, and emotional health" section of the bibliography. My article listed there discusses law student stress in detailboth its sources and effective attitudes for substantially reducing your stress level. Click authentichappiness.com or Queendom.com to find numerous self-testing instruments, including personality type and depression screening (But, as in the note abovedo not rely on self-testing if you might be depressedget some help with that!!)
Alternative lenses for understanding and/or practicing law
Comprehensive law includes the many developing approaches to law practice which seek more constructive/cooperative, and less confrontational/divisive processes and outcomes. Therapeutic Jurisprudence, founded by Professors David Wexler and Bruce Winnick, is a discipline which considers the effects of law (largely on clients or parties) from a psychological, therapeutic or antitherapeutic perspective. The Renaissance Lawyer, founded by attorney Kim Wright, offers numerous conferences, seminars, and other resources related to the holistic or comprehensive law movements. Steve Keeva, an associate editor of ABA publications, maintains a web site on "Transforming Practices", which has "a clear and unique mission: to explore sources of meaning and pleasure in law practice" in the law. Mr. Keeva has written a leading book on the same topic, which is discussed on his web site. An interest group within the ABA's Law Practice Management section has developed an exhaustive listing of resources for developing "Work/Life Excellence."