Grit, Growth Mindset, and the Path to Successful Lawyering

89 UMKC L. Rev. 493 (2021)

35 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2019 Last revised: 24 Feb 2022

Date Written: September 23, 2019


Research increasingly reveals the need for law students and new lawyers to possess a broad range of characteristics, skills, and professional competencies in order to succeed. Moreover, employers indicate that new lawyers’ ability to navigate a professional environment is far more important than their legal skills.

Two constructs borrowed from the social sciences—grit and growth mindset—serve as promising mechanisms for students to develop these necessary characteristics and professional competencies. While few studies have applied these concepts directly to legal education and practice, generalized research demonstrates they are directly correlated with success and well-being.

Law school is rigorous and increasingly demanding, particularly because students are now expected to develop and exhibit competencies and characteristics beyond basic legal knowledge and analysis. Accordingly, it is incumbent on legal educators to develop and provide students with specific strategies to help them succeed and thrive, both in law school and beyond.

This article explores the possibility of using grit and growth mindset as tools for law students as they seek to develop and demonstrate the key characteristics and competencies valued by employers. The article ultimately demonstrates that fostering grit and growth mindset can be done across a law school curriculum. This article also includes suggestions for building reflective practices that allow students to reframe their experiences, particularly their setbacks and failures, with an eye toward acquiring grit and growth mindset.

Suggested Citation

Bess, Megan, Grit, Growth Mindset, and the Path to Successful Lawyering (September 23, 2019). 89 UMKC L. Rev. 493 (2021), Available at SSRN: or

Megan Bess (Contact Author)

UIC School of Law ( email )

300 South State Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States
3124272737 (Phone)

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