SUMMARY DESCRIPTION OF COURSE:
This course consists of two
parts. In the first part of this course, we
examine what research suggests about the likelihood
that a career in law will prove satisfying. We will explore what
specific types of firms and work environments are most
likely to produce happy lawyers.
We also will consider studies from the fields
of neuroscience and psychology and what they suggest
about steps that lawyers, law firms, and law schools
can take to improve prospects for career satisfaction. Finally, we will discuss how
happiness should rank among life’s goals.
For the second
part of the course, we turn our attention to the
seeking quality in the practice of law. We
examine the virtues, values, and skills that good
lawyers tend to have. We will read stories
about good lawyers, discuss social science research
that relates to good lawyering, and consider changes
in practice that might influence how good lawyers
(1) Students will write a short
paper about an interview they will conduct with
someone who received his or her law degree at least
ten years ago. The paper,
which will be summarized in class, will discuss some
aspect of the interviewee’s career that has been the
source of either happiness or unhappiness.
(2) Students will write
and present an essay on the topic "Where I Stand: What
Really Matters in My Career."
The Science of Happiness PART
A GOOD LIFE IN THE LAW
A GOOD LIFE IN THE LAW
Reading: Levit & Linder, The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law (Oxford Press, 2010)(Foreword and chapter 2)
Link: University of Pennsylvania's Authentic Happiness Center (Dr. Martin Seligman)
Link: BBC, The Happiness Formula
Link: World Database of Happiness
Link: Journal of Happiness Studies
Session 1 Questions:
1. What is happiness? Are there several different types of happiness?
(1) the happiness of a life well lived
(2) the state of happiness or contentment
(3) pleasure (fleeting happiness)
(4) which type of happiness is most important?
2. To what extent is happiness (the state) determined by:
(1) genetics (set-point)
(b) set point graph
(c) what twins studies reveal about the genetic contribution to happiness levels
(3) intentional activity
what the 50%/10%/40% breakdown means
3. What are the evolutionary advantages of happiness and unhappiness? What does evolutionary psychology tell us about prospects for happiness?
(1) Buss, The Evolution of Happiness (obstacles to happiness)
4. What firing patterns within the brain are associated with happiness?
(1) brain diagram
(2) controlling firing patterns
(3) chemistry of the brain
5. Does happiness come more from anticipating pleasant experiences or the experiences themselves?
(1) four happiness stages
6. What personality suites are most associated with higher happiness set-points?
(1) chart: extroversion and happiness
(2) qualities of happy people
7. How happy are you?
(1) take a happiness test
(2) personality types and careers: take a test
(3) lawyer personality types compared to general population
8. How do happiness levels of people compare in various countries around the globe? What accounts for these variations?
(2) freedom/happiness graph
(3) happiness by nations (ranked)
(4) geography of bliss (video)
9. What circumstances (jobs, income levels, health, status of relationships, etc.) most affect happiness levels?
(1) circumstances chart
10. What is the relationship between income and happiness?
(2) income-country graph
11. Do happiness levels vary by gender? by age? by education level?
(1) happiness by age
(2) happiness by gender, 1972-2006
(3) happiness by education level
(4) happiness by religion and politics (2004)
12. How does your happiness compare with the average American?
13. What are some of the problems relating to attempting to measure happiness? What are the most reliable methods of measurement?
(1) no hedonometer
(2) cultural differences (cf Japan and US)
(3) language squishing hypothesis (DG)
14. What is the source of hedonic adaptation? What are some examples (both negative and positive events) of hedonic adaptation?
(1) TED, Ideas Worth Spreading: Daniel Gilbert talks about our psychological immune system and "synthetic happiness" (view lecture)
15. Why do people do such a poor job predicting their future happiness? How can they do a better job?
16. Is happiness contagious?
(1) how is happiness spread?
17. Do more choices make people happier? Is there an ideal number of choices to have?
(1) are you a maximizer or a satisfier?
18. What activities make people happiest and why?
(1) poll C
19. Experiences of a thriving person
(1) the 5 basic human needs for a sense of well-being
20. What are some things that seem to raise happiness levels? (meditation? pleasant activity training? gratitude exercises? listening to music?
exercise? sleeping more? other drugs?)
What can people do to boost happiness levels?
(1) happiness boosters
(2) groups: identify 3 happiness boosters and discuss how to use
21. Does occasional melancholy have benefits?
(1) melancholy as a trigger to action
(2) down times enhancing appreciation for the up times
22. Assessing your values: exercises
(1) "the value wheel" (exercise--see handout)
(2) when do you like being you?
Groups: Identify specific step to take to boost happiness
Happiness of Lawyers
Reading: Levit/Linder, Happy Lawyers (Chapters 1, 3, 4 and 8)
Link: ABA, Pulse of the Legal Profession
Link: ABA, Career Satisfaction Among Young Lawyers
Link: Law Consulting Blog
Link: Seligman & Verkuil, Why Lawyers Are Unhappy
Session 2 Questions:
1. How happy are lawyers compared to people with other occupations?
(1) The importance of work to happiness
(2) National Opinion Research Center survey of job satisfaction
(3) practice survey of young lawyers
(4) chart comparing job satisfaction
(5) ABA Young Lawyers survey (handout)
2. What are the characteristics of jobs with high levels of job satisfaction?
(1) sources of meaning, pleasure, strengths: identifying what's in the intersection
(2) intersecting circles (sample exercise) : meaning, pleasure, strengths
3. What are the characteristics of jobs with low levels of job satisfaction?
4. What do we know about the effect of career satisfaction on overall happiness levels?
5. What tools are available to lawyers to increase their own job satisfaction?
Big 5 factors
(1) Getting more control: "mattering makes us happy"
(a) achieving a better work-life balance
(b) a job with security
(c) a job with a sense of purpose
(d) control within the office and work environment
(2) Increasing "flow" experiences
(a) flow graph
(b) identify your flow experiences
(3) More downward comparisons and fewer upward comparisons
(4) Spending more time working and playing with colleagues
(5) Aligning your work with your values
(a) identifying your values
(b) group exercise: identify jobs that align with your values
(6) Learning about happiness from those who have gone before
6. The Happiness Toolbox
Identify law jobs that align with your values
Identify pluses and minuses of a job that interests you: list at least 4 of each
Toward Law Schools that Produce Happier Lawyers
Reading: Levit/Linder, Happy Lawyers (Chapter 5)
Reading: Levit & Linder, Syracuse Law Review, Happy Law Students, Happy Lawyers
SSRN cite: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1095271
Session 3 Questions:
1. What are some of the causes of student stress in law school?
(1) Poll E
2. Personality types and specific practices within the field of law
(1) hand-out on personality types and practice areas
3. In what ways could law schools humanize legal education? What law school policies should change? What teaching practices should change?
4. Should law schools offer courses focusing on career satisfaction issues?
5. Should law schools steer students to firms that are likely to make them happier?
6. Should schools ask that interviewing firms complete questionaires about the nature of their workplace environments?
7. Should schools discourage would-be students from attending who don't seem likely to find happiness in law?
8. Should schools do more to provide information about non-traditional ways of exploiting a JD degree?
9. What specific steps can law schools take to make the law school experience a happier one?
(a) empowering students to make decisions affecting their education
(b) bounded choice (choices, but not too many) with respect to courses and projects
(c) offering opportunities for connections (collaborative projects, social events, etc.)
(d) providing a physical setting that facilities coming together with other students and faculty
(e) offering course work that is challenging, but not anxiety-producing
(f) providing opportunities for volunteer work
(g) surrogation: learning from those who have gone ahead
10. If law schools focus more on finding happiness-producing jobs for their graduates than high income-producing job, what will be
the impact on law school finances over the long term?
11. Identifying and finding ways to use your signature strengths
(1) list of 24 strengths
(2) Values in Action Test of 24 Character Strengths
12. Envisioning your career path
(1) career path exercise
(2) drafting a professional vision statement
(3) identifying tradeoffs: exercise
Groups: Designing a curriculum that better promotes happiness
Creating Happier Law Firms
Reading: Levit/Linder, Happy Lawyers (Chapter 6)
Session 4 Questions:
1. What kinds of prediction errors might you make about what future career would make you happy? [See Nettles, especially pages 34-54]
2. Why should law firms care about making their lawyers happy?
3. Are there any institutional forces pushing law firms to change their billable hour model?9. What compensation scheme is most likely to produce happier lawyers?
(a) billable hours chart
(b) Missouri lawyers' median salaries: chart
4. Do some tools work better for some generations than for others?
5. What is known about the size of firms and the levels of happiness of lawyers in those firms? Salaries and happiness?
(1) law firm salary graph
6. Are public sector lawyers happier than private sector lawyers?
7. Do lawyers tend to get happier or less happy as their careers progress?
8. What can be done to promote better work-life balance while still meeting firm objectives?
(a) Levit and Linder handout on compensation systems
10. Which are happier, firms that are meritocracies or firms that have an egalitarian ethic?
11. Generational differences between firm members and their effects on happiness
(a) Levit and Linder handout on generational differences
12. Do lawyers self-select the type of firms that make them happier?
13. What architecture or firm design features promote higher happiness levels?
(a) design quotes
(b) Norwegian law firm
(d) architectual and design features that promote happiness
(e) group design project
14. Does providing greater feedback make for happier lawyers?
15. How can mentoring programs increase happiness among associates?
16. What sorts of firm-sponsored social events and activities are most likely to boost happiness?
17. How can firms learn from their employees about how to increase job satisfaction?
18. Can pro bono work boost happiness levels? What sorts of pro bono work has the best effect?
19. What questions should you ask an interviewer? What should you try to learn about a firm during a summer job?
Groups: Designing a law office that facilitates happiness
Identifying reforms that can make your firm a happier place
Stories of Happy and Unhappy Lawyers
Reading: Levit/Linder (Chapters 7 and 8)
Session 5 Questions:
1. What have you learned from your interview about satisfaction in legal careers?
2. What sorts of experiences seem to bring the most happiness to lawyers? What have been peak experiences?
3. What are the tradeoffs that lawyers most frequently complain about?
4. Can you see yourself happy as a lawyer? What type of lawyer?
5. Are happy lawyers better lawyers?
6. Is happiness the best goal for a career?
7. How happy can a career be?
Student presentations: Stories and lessons from interviews with experienced lawyers
PART TWO: SEEKING QUALITY IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW (questions and additional reading to be added)
Session 7: The Good Lawyer is Empathetic
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Preface and Chapter 1)
Session 7 Questions:
1. What is empathy?
(a) Empathy Quotient test
(b) "All about Empathy," Psychology Today
(c) TED talk: "The Empathetic Civilization" by Jeremy Rifkin
2. How might being empathetic make you a better lawyer?
(a) How can empathy help you to avoid miscommunication?
(b) How can empathy help you to tell a more compelling story?
3. Which of the 12 "toolkit" tips for improving empathetic response seem most relevant to you?
4. Are you a Thinker or a Feeler? (Myers-Briggs Assessment)
5 . Can empathy be taught?
6. Does empathy present risks to good lawyering? What are they?
7. Is there too much empathy in jury rooms?
8. Should judges be empathetic?
9. Does empathy lead to altruism?
Session 8: The Good Lawyer is Courageous; The Good Lawyer Has Ample Willpower
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Chapters 2 and 3)
1. What is courage?
(a) Raph Nader on the need for moral courage (YouTube)
2. What is willpower?
(a) Homepage of Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal
(b) "The Science of Willpower" (Kelly McGonigal, TED talk)
Session 9: The Good Lawyer Values Others in the Legal Profession
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Chapter 4)
1. Why do liberals and conservatives disagree?
(a) TED talk: "The moral roots of liberals and conservatives" by Jonathan Haidt
Session 10: The Good Lawyer Uses Both Intuition and Deliberative Thinking; The Good Lawyer Thinks Realistically About the Future
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Chapters 5 and 6)
Session 11: The Good Lawyer Serves the Trues Interests of Clients; The Good Lawyer Pursues Justice With Integrity
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Chapter 7 and 8)
Session 12: The Good Lawyer is Persuasive; Seeking Quality in a Rapidly Changing Profession
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Chapters 9 and 10)
Student presentations: "Where I Stand: What Really Matters in My Career"/ "My Professional Journey"