Practical Tips Law Students Need for a Healthy Career Path

October 10th is Law School Mental Health Day! (And World Mental Health Day!)

Law school is not just another educational experience, not just a step toward a career that begins after graduation and admission to the bar. Your professional career begins now, in law school. What appear to be easy choices down the road are often deceptive. Unsustainable work patterns only get progressively more difficult to disrupt. Law School is your best chance to build the foundation of a career you really want.

Stress is definitely part of the experience, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stress, in moderate amounts or when adequately managed, can provide motivation and drive. But sometimes it’s difficult to figure out how to keep it under control. Sometimes people need help developing new thought patterns that can address stress better. (See #9)

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How Can Lawyers Prioritize Self-Care?

Self-Care Awareness Month Trivia Question! What do a lot of lawyers have in common with billionaire innovators Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos?

Their work is impressive, but their priorities are questionable. In similar and different ways. Elon Musk is sleep-deprived and friends are concerned. Jeff Bezos sleeps enough, but he’s making headlines for poor working conditions in his Amazon warehouses. They both seem pretty smart and might prevail against any odds — but in the meantime, we can learn from the mistakes they’re making on their paths to full scale market disruption and domination.

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Welcome to Law School: A 3-Step Survival Guide

Are you about to start law school? Congratulations . . . You have probably heard at least a few horror stories about the stress, the dropout rate, the prevalence of depression, the high student loans, the competition, the high rates of substance use, and how law school is either like military boot camp, the Hunger Games, or the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog. Challenges shape us, and law school is a life changing experience. Needless to say, it is best to have some helpful strategies at the ready, even before it seems they are necessary.

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Is This Depression or Just Feeling Down?

We all feel fluctuations in our moods (from elation to deep sadness). Some people feel this range of emotions to a lesser degree (find it hard to feel intense emotions) while others feel it to a greater degree (find it hard not to feel intense emotions). A common question we get is, “How can you tell the difference between a low mood and something more serious like depression?”.

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The Diplomatic Way to Say “No”

In the life of a new associate at a medium or large law firm, it is not uncommon to sacrifice time with friends and family in favor of working long hours each day, working into the evening or on weekends at times when looming deadlines approach, and work with multiple superiors (partners and senior associates). In addition to the challenge of learning new aspects of the law, managing your time to complete the volume of work assigned to you, and trying to maintain your personal life in some fashion, the challenge of saying “no” becomes one of the most common sources of stress among new associates.

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Depression in law school – Imposters and Socrates

The stats are alarming which indicate that before entering law school a student is just as likely to have experienced depression as any other adult in the general population (which is about 7%). After one year of law school, 32% of law students experience depression. It keeps rising to 40% by the end of the third year. So what is it about law school, and in particular the first year of law school that is so stressful to law students? While there are many sources of stress in the first year of law school, two particular stressors stick out as significant for many students: the Imposter Syndrome and the Socratic Method.

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