Understanding the Social and Cognitive Processes in Law School that Create Unhealthy Lawyers

Posted: 26 Aug 2022 Last revised: 22 Sep 2022

See all articles by Kathryne M. Young

Kathryne M. Young

The George Washington University Law School

Date Written: 2021

Abstract

Previous work on law student wellness and mental health strongly suggests that the seeds of professional unhappiness are sown in law school. Law students suffer from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other mental health problems at alarmingly high rates. They also leave law school with different concerns, commitments, and cognitive patterns than when they entered, emerging less hopeful, less intrinsically motivated, and more concerned with prestige than they were at the outset. So what, exactly, happens to people in law school? Although a rich body of quantitative and survey-based research on law students documents these empirical trends, surprisingly little qualitative work has examined the social mechanisms and relational processes that underpin the development of negative mental health and wellness patterns. This Article draws on in-depth interviews with fifty-three law students from thirty-six law schools throughout the United States: one interview before the students started law school, then another interview in their first three to six weeks, for a total of 106 interviews with 1L students who entered law school in Fall 2020. Even at this early stage, we can already begin to identify the social and cognitive processes that set the stage for unhealthy professional development.

Keywords: law students, legal education, wellness, mental health, legal profession

Suggested Citation

Young, Kathryne, Understanding the Social and Cognitive Processes in Law School that Create Unhealthy Lawyers (2021). Kathryne M. Young, "Understanding the Social and Cognitive Processes in Law School that Create Unhealthy Lawyers," 89 Fordham Law Review 2575 (2021). , GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2022-59, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2022-59, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4198208

Kathryne Young (Contact Author)

The George Washington University Law School ( email )

2000 H St NW
Washington, DC

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
255
PlumX Metrics