Law Students in Balance: A Proposal for a Well-being Course for Law School Students Founded on the Constructs and Findings of Positive Psychology
Medicine and Health Sciences
Research shows that law students experience greater levels of depression, stress, and anxiety, and also higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse than their peers at other graduate schools. Scholars from a broad array of disciplines, such as psychology, law, and education, suggest law school—its pedagogy and structure—is a causal factor for students’ decreased physical and mental well-being and lower overall life satisfaction. Faced with the challenge to find innovative approaches to the problem of law students’ distress, law schools can use the solutions and insights offered by the relatively new field of positive psychology. This paper proposes an academic course, named Law Students in Balance, based on the findings of the science of well-being. The course may be instrumental in managing stress and anxiety among law students, and, most importantly, preventing psychological distress among students and practicing attorneys. It endeavors to explain how positive emotions, an individual’s signature character strengths, and various tools for building resilience, can be learned and in turn may yield scientifically tested positive outcomes: lower and/or prevent depression and increase overall life satisfaction.