This paper examines the wellbeing and satisfaction levels of lawyers in the workplace. It argues that research suggesting a crisis in the legal profession in the United States is comparable with research on wellbeing and levels of satisfaction for lawyers in Australasia. Some reports in both jurisdictions are critical of conventional legal education and practical legal training programs, which do not encourage students to develop personal and interpersonal skills that can improve self-awareness, communication skills and the capacity to manage stress and anxiety. Consequently, law students are allowed to assume that these "soft skills" are less important for lawyers compared with cognitive skills such as "knowing the law" and "thinking like a lawyer". The paper describes the preliminary results of research conducted with graduates of the School of Law at the University of Newcastle Australia. The results confirm existing research to show that clinical legal education programs that expose law students under supervision to clients with real cases may promote the development of interpersonal skills, which in turn may help them cope with stressors in legal practice, especially in the first few years post-admission.
The Law Teacher: International Journal of Legal Education Vol. 42, Issue 1, p. 85-97