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ucla school of lawIn Lawyering, Emotional Regulation Is Key


Last week the topic swirling around legal education news was Columbia Law School postponing exams for the “trauma” students experienced resulting from recent grand jury decisions not to indict two police officers for the deaths of two men (Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City). This week, a UCLA School of Law professor heard several complaints for a question on the final exam in one of his courses.

When the stepfather of Michael Brown heard the news Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted, he exclaimed to an angry crowd, “Burn this bitch down!” The question asked students to write a memo explaining this statement in relation to First Amendment rights. Students complained the question caused a “hostile learning environment.” The professor, Eugene Volokh, made adjustments to the grades based on who did worse on that specific question.

Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk recently used The New Yorker to express her concern for her perception that students are increasingly likely to object to talking about rape and rape cases in a law school classroom. The concern from these professors is fairly obvious. These are tough legal and emotional issues. And they’re the same tough legal and emotional issues that these students must be comfortable discussing and handling on a frequent basis once they enter the legal profession.

Even students who have no desire to pursue criminal law could (and probably will) be exposed to other emotionally exhausting and uncomfortable issues. Volokh says it is key for students to not only be able to regulate and handle their own emotions, but also be able to understand the issue from the opposing side.

The legal profession requires a superior ability to think critically while handling emotions. It takes a vast amount of mental and emotional intelligence. By combining the two, you can best serve your clients’ needs, while protecting the integrity of the process as a whole.

Source: The Atlantic


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