Think Like a (Mindful) Lawyer: Incorporating Mindfulness, Professional Identity, and Emotional Intelligence into the First Year Law Curriculum
40 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2014 Last revised: 26 Feb 2015
Date Written: January 2, 2014
In this article, I add to the existing mindfulness literature by discussing other ways that law teachers might consider incorporating mindfulness and emotional intelligence into one or more of their classes. I also discuss the related idea of helping students develop a professional identity. Next, I focus on providing these tools in a first-year mandatory class and then attempt to provide a rationale, and a roadmap, for doing this.
After explaining briefly what mindfulness and emotional intelligence are, I review literature from other disciplines on the benefits of mindfulness practice and emotional intelligence training. Next I discuss how this training might enhance the education of lawyers by improving their likelihood of success in the profession and, in turn, improving the quality of their lives both inside and outside their legal practices. Finally, I describe a few examples of materials that could be used in class, as well as some of the classes in which this material might be incorporated. As an example, I use our first-year mandatory professionalism class at the University of New Mexico School of Law called Practicum, in which we incorporated mindfulness and emotional intelligence in the fall of 2013. In concluding the article, I discuss whether now is the time to make the curricular changes I suggest here or whether it would be best to wait until these principles become more accepted in the profession.
Keywords: Pedagogy, Legal Practices, Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence
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