Focus, resilience, balance and overall wellness are essential to a successful and fulfilling experience as a law student. It is important that you feel supported in pursuing wellbeing, both as a student and in preparation for practice – research suggests that many lawyers struggle in this area.
The University has a number of services designed to support student wellbeing. On this resource page, you will find links to both general and law-specific wellness websites, podcasts, apps and other resources.
Overthinking Perfectly by Gwendoline Smith, September 2021. Overthinking and perfectionism may sound like pre-requisites for legal practice. But clinical psychologist and author Gwendoline Smith discusses the long-term impacts of this mode of operation. She provides practical tips for legal brain health.
Why Lawyers are Unhappy, by Alistair Wye. "This post takes its title from the excellent 2001 essay by Martin Seligman, Paul Verkuil and Terry Kang. That article is available here. ... Lawyers tend to have, or cultivate through their training and work experience, a “pessimistic explanatory” style. In this way, events are viewed as persistent, uncontrollable and pervasive. Optimists see troubles as local, temporary and changeable. As Why Lawyers Are Unhappy highlights, pessimists fare less well in business, sports and politics but excel in law. But why is this?" Read on to find out.
Law Student Podcast by Legal Talk Network: Presented by the American Bar Association’s Law Student Division, the ABA Law Student Podcast covers issues from examinations and graduation to finding a job. This is a US resource, but NZ students may find it useful – particularly the mental health episode linked below.
Student Lawyer: How to deal with Law School stress This issue of Student Lawyer is dedicated to the idea of wellness—the proper balance of mental, physical, and emotional health. In this issue, we’ll tell you how you can evaluate your stress level and get help you may need, get access to strategies and tools to help deal with the pressure of law school, and help you take the first steps toward staying healthy.
"Here you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks to survive those never-ending readings, obfuscating essay questions, killer exams and assessments, plus discussions of mental health and well-being, unorthodox and straight-shooting careers in law, and those all important ongoing odes to highlighters, coloured tabs, textbook burning and coffee to flow black through your veins."
Recognizing the reality of imposter syndrome by Courtney March, Canadian Lawyer (1July 2017) Whether you are a law student, articling student or a junior associate, it is easy to be trapped in the mindset that you don’t measure up. Recently, I came across a number of TED Talks on imposter syndrome. They were interesting, informative and, above all, the concepts were applicable to any student that is gearing up for September or any young lawyer starting out in their career. This month I’d like to address what imposter syndrome is, why law students or legal professionals are more susceptible to it and how to manage this mentality.
NK Skead and SL Rogers "Do law students stand apart from other university students in their quest for mental health: A comparative study on wellbeing and associated behaviours in law and psychology students" (2015) 42-43 Int'l J.L.& Psychiatry 81 .
Paula Davis-Laack "What Resilient Lawyers Do Differently" (26 September 2017) Forbes.com
A growing number of law students and lawyers are recognizing the benefits of mindfulness training as a tool for achieving mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Mindfulness is a present, engaged and self-aware state of mind, that can be cultivated through brain training exercises. “Mindfulness practices can be used to help us to think straight rather than being overly reactive or overwhelmed by circumstances – when confronted with a technically challenging question of law, an emotionally fraught case, or the pressure of balancing work and life commitments” (Anna High "The case for mindfulness in New Zealand legal education"  NZLJ 160).
For meditation and mindfulness. Free to download from the App Store.
James Greenland, "Lawyers are Human Too" (2016) 887 LawTalk 16.
How yoga and mediation can improve work performance and personal well-being.
Produced by NZLSA, this guidebook is aimed at promoting mental wellness awareness and eliminating the stigma of mental illness for all New Zealand law students.
The New Lawyer includes a fortnightly podcast produced by Symphony Law for junior lawyers, law students, and anyone wanting to think differently about the culture of legal practice.
Host Katie Cowan has conversations with lawyers from all backgrounds and levels of experience with a view to illuminating the practice of law, connecting listeners with new perspectives about their careers, and repeatedly referring to things Amy Poehler has said.
The law is a fulfilling profession, but it can also be a stressful one. Practising Well, published by the NZLS, is a starting point for any lawyer who is concerned about their own welfare or that of a colleague, or who wants to enhance their own health and wellbeing.