Anxiety and Stress Rampant Amongst Law Students
A majority of law students are struggling with mental health issues, a new report finds.
A Bloomberg Law survey finds that over 75% of student respondents reported increased anxiety because of law school-related issues, and over 50% reported experiencing depression.
In the survey, Bloomberg Law asked law students about their mental health and how their overall well-being changed during the semester. Over half of the more than 1,000 surveyed law students acknowledged that their well-being worsened during the fall 2022 semester of law school. Overall, 32% of respondents stated that their well-being “slightly worsened,” and 26% said that it “significantly worsened.”
WELL-BEING VARIES BY GENDER & RACE
According to the gender breakdown, the percentage of those reporting that their well-being “significantly worsened” was greater among female (26%) and nonbinary (38%) respondents than male (22%).
Moreover, students who reported that their well-being “significantly worsened” was higher among Black students (33%) when compared to White students (24%).
VIEW AROUND MENTAL HEALTH ARE CHANGING
So, what do these numbers mean? Well, for one, it’s clear that law school is no easy feat.
“An intense workload, expectations for perfection, grading on a curve, and cold-calling all help prepare law students for our client-driven and often-adversarial profession—but it may also be laying a foundation of anxiety and stress,” Jessica R. Blaemire, a Senior Legal Analyst at Bloomberg Law, says. “And, as the data show, the negative effects may be worse for those who identify as female, nonbinary, or Black.”
Blaemire, who attended law school herself 20 years ago, says the numbers paint a familiar picture of her own experience in legal education.
“In my network of lawyers, I have found that many of us—particularly women—had similar experiences to what the survey respondents reported: increased anxiety, trouble sleeping, issues with relationships, depression, and increased alcohol usage,” Blaemire says. “I don’t recall talking about this with fellow law students at the time, but I’m glad we’re discussing it now.”
Views around mental health—and therapy—have changed over the years. Nowadays, there’s less stigma and more Americans have positives views around mental health disorders and seeking treatment.
“In my experience, students today are much more equipped to identify mental health concerns and seem to be more willing to share their challenges and coping responses when prompted,” Jennifer Leonard, Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director of the Future of the Profession Initiative at University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, says.
Still, Leonard admits, there are challenging hurdles for law students to overcome.
“Emerging research suggests that, as a generational cohort, they could be at heightened risk for experiencing mental health challenges, too,” Leonard says.
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.