Psychological health in the legal profession

As I write this, thousands of law school graduates are studying and sitting for bar examinations across the country.  Those who pass (and, fortunately, the overwhelming majority do!) will be one giant step closer to being admitted to the practice of law in their state.

However, they are entering a profession in crisis.  As I noted recently, the recession has battered the legal profession, and the legal job market is very difficult for those seeking work, especially at the entry level.  In addition, the practice of law itself is often stressful, confrontational, and rife with anxiety, as the July 2010 issue of Your ABA (an e-newsletter of the American Bar Association) reminds us:

The life of a lawyer isn’t a cakewalk. Constantly judged in terms of winning and losing, and existing in a culture of attack and counterattack, lawyers face countless pressures. The emphasis on perfection that starts in law school seldom lets up once a lawyer is in practice, and the resulting stress only multiplies with impatient clients and exacting bosses.

The newsletter features an interview with psychologist Rebecca Nerison, author of Lawyers, Anger and Anxiety: Dealing with the Stresses of the Legal Profession.  It’s solid, substantive piece, with helpful insight and advice on managing stress and building personal resilience to the ups and downs of modern practice.

From the mainstream to the cutting edges

For those who want to venture beyond the mainstream, I’ll reiterate two mega-sources of possible interest.  Both are rich with possibilities for transforming the practice of law:

Therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) is a movement that examines the law and legal practice  in terms of their therapeutic and anti-therapeutic qualities.  TJ founders maintain a website with an excellent online bibliography and host a Facebook page.  I have written about my involvement with the TJ community on numerous occasions.

Cutting Edge Law brings together a wealth of alternative perspectives on, and approaches to, legal practice, including TJ.  It hosts an in-depth website and a Facebook page.

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