Brief abstracts of conference sessions will be listed here once the final program has been confirmed.
Title: Strengthening Students and the Legal Profession By Showing Weakness: The Use of Positive Psychology and Personal Sharing to Help Students Develop a Healthy and Sustainable Professional Identity
Lead Presenter: Silver, Marjorie
Session Abstract: This session will explore how we can support our students' well-being, professional development, and commitment to serving others by using positive psychology, sharing ourselves and inviting our students to share themselves in our roles as justice-oriented teachers. Lawyering is a service profession. It is about serving other people. It is also a profession that is known for its high risk of substance abuse and stress-related illness. Studies have demonstrated that at least in the United States, entering law students have the same indicia of well-being as other college graduates. However, in a very short period of time, their incidence of major depression, anxiety, and substance abuse escalates dramatically. These realities should not be detached from, or ignored in, the learning process. Whether law students begin their careers in pathways that focus on social justice or not, they will need to develop emotional competence, empathy, compassion, and self-awareness in order to thrive. They also need knowledge, strategies, and tools to help them manage their own well-being. That involves stress management, self-care, and breaking through imposter syndrome. Few, if any, law schools consider such skills or knowledge as key elements of the standard curriculum. We have the opportunity to focus on the personal skills neglected by the rest of the curriculum. We bring into our teaching the accumulation of all the innate and environmental influences and experiences of our entire lives. While these influences implicitly affect how we teach, each of us strikes a balance of how much of the personal we explicitly bring into our interactions with students, both in the classroom and outside. We believe that modeling confidence and competence – while also normalizing struggle, different ability, illness, and doubt – is good for the mental health of our students and, concomitantly, good for the legal profession and for society. The presenters will discuss the challenges and opportunities we face—or avoid facing – in introducing our students to the science of well-being, including Mindfulness and other aspects of positive psychology, in addition to the professional risks we have faced in “swimming against the current.” We will invite the participation as well of all those who attend the session.
See full list of abstracts here.