Law students and lawyers often tell me that law school changed them. This realization usually occurs after numerous friends and family members tell them that they have changed. “You’re more argumentative” is often heard. Typically, the law student does not feel like they have become a different person, but instead they have been learning new skills. One of the most prevalent experiences about law school is the way that it changes the way you think about everything. Whether you are thinking about an argument to make or about the intention behind a law, law school teaches you that there are no right and wrong answers. It is all about the argument you can make. This is why the Socratic Method is used in almost every law class that you take. The Socratic Method uses a series of questions to help explore potential answers or avenues of thought. The point of the method is to ask questions and engage in the process of exploration. It is not about determining the one and only right answer.
Continue reading »
Recently, as I was listening to the TED Radio Hour on NPR, I was intrigued by a TEDWomen 2015 talk by Margaret Heffernan about how our traditional ideas of competition and pecking orders based on individual achievement are causing much more harm than good. In her talk, Heffernan talks about “The Superchicken Model” which was derived from the work of an evolutionary biologist from Purdue University named William Muir who studied chickens. Muir found that a flock of chickens made up of only the high producers (i.e., the “superchickens”) eventually failed over time due to the fact that all but three of them died as they pecked each other to death. In essence, the heightened competition literally killed most of them. Continue reading »
The statistics are, well, depressing when it comes to the rates of depression among law students and attorneys. While law students do not differ from the general population in terms of depression prior to starting law school (about 7%), approximately 32% of law students experience depression by the end of their first year in law school. This trend continues through law school to the point of 40% of students experiencing depression by the end of the third year. After law school and the bar exam, rates of depression go down a bit but generally stay at over twice the rate of the general population. Lawyers in all areas of law are faced with various stressors (financial, pressure, long hours, unemployment, etc.) that contribute to their impaired well-being. Continue reading »