How to Train Your Supervisor

26 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2021 Last revised: 30 Sep 2021

See all articles by Paula J. Manning

Paula J. Manning

University of Detroit Mercy - School of Law; University of the Pacific - McGeorge School of Law

Kris Franklin

New York Law School

Date Written: March 3, 2021


In an ideal world every meeting between law students and professors, or between beginning lawyers and their supervisors, would leave supervisors impressed by their charges and junior lawyers/students with a clear sense of direction for their work. But we do not live in that ideal world. Instead, supervisors, supervisees, law professors and law students frequently leave such meetings feeling frustrated, disconnected and without a shared understanding of how to improve the experience (and future performance).

This Article seeks to improve supervisory meetings, and to do so from the perspective of the ones under supervision. There is a genuine art to getting the best supervision possible, which can be both learned and taught. This Article unpacks some of the disconnects and hidden assumptions that can hinder effective supervisory meetings. We observe that participants in supervisory meetings may have very different expectations about the roles of the participants. We further explore the relational aspects of supervision and note that a shared sense of responsibility for supervision promotes more effective supervisory interactions. The Article then considers what law professors can do to prepare law students for supervision, including teaching students to get the most out of feedback from their supervisors. We conclude that teaching law students how to adjust their attributions toward growth, to set clear and achievable goals, and to be thoughtfully self-reflective, will maximize their learning from any academic and professional supervision.

Keywords: supervision, supervisor, new lawyer, attorney, law student, growth mindset, attribution style, autonomy support, reflection, dialectic, law school, legal education

Suggested Citation

Manning, Paula J. and Franklin, Kris, How to Train Your Supervisor (March 3, 2021). NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3797175, Pace Law Review, 2021, Available at SSRN: or

Paula J. Manning (Contact Author)

University of Detroit Mercy - School of Law ( email )

651 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226
United States

University of the Pacific - McGeorge School of Law ( email )

3200 Fifth Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95817
United States

Kris Franklin

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States

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