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Law schools introduce work-life balance courses

6th December 2019

People working on a bench

Law students are reportedly spending many more hours each week studying than other subjects, in the hope that they’ll beat other candidates and secure one of the top lawyer jobs in London once they graduate. The Guardian reports that universities are starting to recognise the pressure law students put on themselves and aim to introduce wellbeing sessions as part of the course.

The article, titled ‘Why are stress levels rising among law students?’, is supported by The University of Law. It reports the findings from The Junior Lawyers Division’s 2019 resilience and wellbeing survey, which found that 93% of respondents have been feeling stressed.

As a result of this, and the knowledge that legal professions can often be in high-pressure environments, law schools are focusing on introducing lessons on mindfulness, meditation, relaxation and resilience.

BPP University Law School is one of the first to make the change. The director of programme design and development at BPP, Jo-Anne Pugh, tells The Guardian: “It wasn’t that long ago when mental wellbeing in the law was barely discussed. The profession has moved on and all law schools must also do the same.”

Lydia Bleasdale, an associate professor of law at Leeds University, who conducted a year-long study of the resilience and mental health experiences of undergraduate students, also commented “that, unlike their cohorts, law students had very little free time to pursue activities unrelated to the profession. Anything legal students did outside of their studies was related to law

“What we found was that students were comparing themselves to others and then feeling deficient, like they were the only ones who didn’t understand something or were the only ones who were struggling. It was usually related to a sense of not being good enough academically.”

Although universities can introduce courses to help mental health, students themselves should try to take time out of studying to self-care. Bleasdale advises: “Stay away from social media, it can be a toxic place which feeds into that frenzy of comparison and competition.”

The chief executive Elizabeth Rimmer of LawCare, a charity supporting those in the legal community, tells The Guardian that law students should “sit down and try to silence that inner critic that might be telling you are not good enough and you can’t do these things. Remind yourself of all the achievements you have had and make a realistic plan for how you are going to get through it all. Most importantly, many people feel this way. You won’t be the only person who has ever felt like that.”

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