O.J. Salinas on Law Student Well-Being

As any law school graduate knows, graduation is hardly the end of the road when it comes to studying—the bar exam is right around the corner. July—bar season—is a tense and anxiety-provoking time for many recent law grads, but often that anxiety is difficult for new lawyers to talk about.

Over on the Law School Academic Support Blog, Professor O.J. Salinas wrote a compelling response to a recent New York Times article about the death of a Silicon Valley lawyer by drug overdose.

Salinas focused his response on two separate issues: the notion of “Subjective Well-Being” and the challenges that law students have of “Acknowledging a Problem.”

Of Subjective Well-Being, Professor Salinas has this to say:

We try to remind our students to remember the intrinsic reasons why they decided to come to law school—particularly during those times when they may feel overwhelmed, defeated, or unworthy. We also try to remind our students that “success” can mean many different things to different people and that there are many ways to “succeed” in law school.

In other words, extrinsic success and intrinsic success are not the same thing, and in law school, too often, students end up focused too much on the former.

For his second point, Professor Salinas emphasizes why it is so difficult for students to acknowledge their problems to themselves and to others:

Disclosing some personal vulnerability to someone else is an added challenge to an already stressful time in our students’ lives.  Think about it: if it’s hard for you to acknowledge some potential weakness or flaw to yourself, do you think it will be easier for you to acknowledge that weakness or flaw to someone else? Now think about that someone else as a law professor or administrator.

Go read his full blog post here. If you are a person who works with law students or who mentors young lawyers, it is worth your time.

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