How to Train Your Supervisor
26 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2021 Last revised: 30 Sep 2021
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
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