I am happy and thankful to be the first blogger at The Law School Wellness Project. This website is a wonderful idea and great public service. Many of us who teach law bear witness first-hand to many of our students’ anxieties, fears, stress, depression, frustration, and feelings of being overwhelmed. A number of us believe there must be some way to teach our students to become resilient, successful, and thriving lawyers and humans. Many of us are concerned that traditional legal education is not doing enough to foster our students’ many potential bright futures. This website will help us to hopefully transform legal education into a more positive set of experiences. Debra Austin at the Denver University Law School and I are writing a law review article that applies the new fields of positive education and positive computing to law schools. Our work-in-progress is titled Positive Legal Education.
I’ve co-organized with Debra a conference titled Mindfulness and Thriving Legal Practices to be held next Monday August 8 and Tuesday August 9 at the University of Colorado Law School. This conference is part of the growing research literature about law student and lawyer well-being. The conference is part of a collaborative project among Debra, University of Colorado Boulder psychology professor Tor Wager & I to conduct a longitudinal study about law student well-being, ethical decision-making, mental health, and stress. Our study will include brain scans to examine structural and functional brain changes during law school. We also will analyze the efficacy of positive psychology interventions, including mindfulness practice, compassion or loving-kindness meditation, exercise, and keeping a gratitude journal.
Our conference participants are: professors of psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, neurobiology, and anatomy from University of Colorado Boulder, Yale, & Wake Forest; professors of education (U. Miami) & speech communication (U. Arkansas at Little Rock); professors of law from University of Colorado Boulder, Stanford, Northwestern, UC Hastings, U. Miami, Loyola-Chicago, & Northern Illinois; a professor of contemplative education at Naropa University; Principal Analyst at DecisionSet, a decision services company; and the 2 co-founders of Aspire, a consulting & educational firm for the legal profession to enhance attorney engagement, performance, & resilience.
Additional information on the conference is available here: Mindfulness and Thriving Legal Practices Conference website.
Finally, I’ve just revised an article titled Meta-Mindfulness: A New Hope, forthcoming in the Richmond Journal of Public Interest Law. You can view the article’s abstract and download the article draft at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2782930.
May we all help make legal education more humane and positive.