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What happens to make lawyers vulnerable to these negative influences?

Beginning law students are no more depressed or anxious than other post-graduates when they start law school. But something unusual happens in law school, and it happens within the first six months.

Depression, anxiety, and drinking as a coping behavior go up sharply by the start of the second semester in law school. Indications of moderate to severe depression have been found in 30% of first year students. By the end of law school, it can hit 40-50%.

Self-Determination Theory research suggests that this happens because many law school programs emphasize competition, status, and scholarly achievements over mastery, growth, and practical knowledge. This may lead students to focus on extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation and rewards, and may also promote controlling authority rather than autonomy.

Thriving Lawyers exists to help counteract these influences. The techniques of positive psychology offer practical steps for improving well-being and productivity. Sign up for our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit our site often for the latest news.

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