Students explore the practice of law from the perspective of their personal approach to life and the values that matter to them most, as well as examine the oft-inherent conflict between the practice setting of fact and law, and of life with its complex moral and psychological overlay. Practicing law requires mental, physical and psychological stamina. A substantial body of research has documented increasing professional dissatisfaction and accompanying psychopathology among lawyers, often associated with a widening gap between personal values and practice, and the impacts of prolonged stress. This course equips students with lifelong tools for meeting the challenges of practicing law, managing stress and maintaining satisfaction in their lives. Tools include core emotional intelligence competencies, resilience training, meditation, stress management strategies, understanding the mind-body feedback loop, and reflective journaling.
Core course aspects include:
Exploratory exercises and discussion to help students identify their core values, articulate their personal definitions of success, then understand how to integrate those values into their lives and practice;
An investigation of social and emotional intelligence competencies and their application to the practice of law;
Mental fitness tools, including meditation, for coping with stress, long hours, and difficult work situations, that the student can engage at any moment for dealing with a wide range of challenging circumstances;
Practices that help students maintain good mental and physical health, as well as recognize, interrupt and combat detrimental behaviors/responses to undue stress;
Fundamentals of professional development—an understanding of the business development side of the practice of law.
Development of these abilities is supported by assigned readings, discussion and actual practice of the skills taught, including meditation. Course materials and sources draw on research studies, relevant texts and popular media. Students practice using the tools presented in class and respond to weekly prompts documenting their experiences.
Course Specific Learning Outcomes:
Students will gain a minimum threshold competency for recognizing and understanding their own motivations and inner experiences working in a professional legal setting, develop resilience/stress management skills, and better understand and assess the experience of others when engaging with clients and colleagues.