DESCRIPTION OF COURSE:
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
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
(2) Students will write and present an essay
(7-10 pages) on either the topics "Where I
Stand: What Really Matters in My Career" or "My
The Science of Happiness PART ONE: MAKING
A GOOD LIFE IN THE LAW
PART ONE: MAKING
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?
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: anticipating, savoring, sharing, remembering
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
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) happiest states (2012 Gallup poll)
(5) 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
--age and happiness in 3 countries
(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 satisficer?
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?)
(1) happiness boosters
(2) groups: identify 3 happiness boosters and discuss how to use
21. 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, and 4)
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:
A. How happy are lawyers?
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) chart comparing job satisfaction
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 types of practice produce the most satisfied lawyers?
(1) practice survey of young lawyers
(2) 2007 ABA Survey
(3) ABA Lawyers Happiness Quiz
B. Happiness toolbox for lawyers
6. 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
(b) T. Gilovich, Why bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists
(c) silver medalist on stand
(4) Building better workplace relationships: trust, respect, and time for play
(5) Aligning your work with your values
(a) identifying your values
(b) identifying jobs that align with your values
(6) Learning about happiness from those who have gone before
7. The Happiness Toolbox
Exercise: Identify pluses and minuses of a law 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) Is this HLS? (3) Listing of stress sources
2. Do law schools attract students with certain personalities? Do they make students less happy?
(2) personality types and careers: take a test
(3) lawyer personality types compared to general population
3. Should schools discourage would-be students from attending who don't seem likely to find happiness in law? Have law schools been honest with prospective law students about job prospects?
(1) Law students finding law jobs: trend
4. Are law schools to blame for the current oversupply of lawyers?
(1) Law school application trend
5. Do law schools focus too much on improving their US News & WR rankings? What are some of the possible adverse effects of this obsession with rankings?
6. 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?
7. In what ways could law schools humanize legal education? What law school policies should change? What teaching practices should change?
(1) Law schools as rated by law students
8. Should law schools offer courses focusing on career satisfaction issues?
9. Do law schools have "an institutional glide path" leading to larger firms? Should law schools steer students to firms that are likely to make them happier?
10. Do you feel that you study primarily to get better grades and enhance your resume or primarily to master the material?
11. Should schools ask that interviewing firms complete questionaires about the nature of their workplace environments?
12. What specific steps can law schools take to make the law school experience a happier one?
(1) empowering students to make decisions affecting their education
(2) bounded choice (choices, but not too many) with respect to courses and projects
(3) offering opportunities for connections (collaborative projects, social events, etc.)
(4) providing a physical setting that facilities coming together with other students and faculty
(5) offering course work that is challenging, but not anxiety-producing
(6) providing opportunities for volunteer work
(7) surrogation: learning from those who have gone ahead
Groups: Blueprint for a happier law school that turns out students who have more satisfying careers
Individual exercise: Draft a vision statement for your career (identify job(s) that match your strengths, interests values, courses to take in law school, contacts to make, networking opportunities to explore, identify where you want to be in 10 years, in 25 years)
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?
2. Why should law firms care about making their lawyers happy?
(1) Am-Law A-List
(2) Vault, Best Law Firms (by categories)
(3) Vault, Rankings of Best Law Firms to Work For in the Midwest
(4) Reasons why happy firms are better firms
3. Are there any institutional forces pushing law firms to change their billable hour model?14. What architecture or firm design features promote higher happiness levels?
(1) billable hours chart
(2) Missouri lawyers' median salaries: chart
(3) The Munger, Tolles & Olson model:
-- no minimum billable hour requirement, one-tiered partnership, associate to partner ratio= 1:1, associates on policy committee, no mandatory retirement, early case responsibility
--clients include Berkshire Hathaway, Verizon, Boeing (10% of firm's attorneys clerked for US Supreme Court justices and #1 on 2013 AmJur A-List)
(4) firms getting fixed fee for doing all (or a defined subset) of a company's legal work (e.g. Cisco)
4. Are billable hours destructive of happiness? What systems of compensation might work better?
(1) Yale Law School, "The Truth about the Billable Hour"
5. Are law firms today overleveraged (that is, do too many associates and non-equity partners support overcompensated equity partners)? What leverage ratio is optimal?
(1) Legal Management, "Leverage: The Secret to Law Firm Profitability"
6. Would greater transparency about income and compensation schemes make law firms happier places?
7. 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
8. Why are public sector lawyers happier than private sector lawyers?
9. Generational differences between firm members and their effects on happiness
(1) Traditionals, Boomers, Gen X'ers, Gen Y'ers
10. Are more racially diverse firms happier? Do lawyers self-select firm that make them happier?
11. Do lawyers tend to get happier or less happy as their careers progress?
12. Which are happier, firms that are meritocracies or firms that have an egalitarian ethic? Are two-tier (equity and non-equity) partner schemes a bad idea?
13. Ten Steps for Making Law Firms Happier Places
(1) design quotes
(2) Norwegian law firm
(4) architectual and design features that promote happiness
(5) group design project
15. Does providing greater feedback make for happier lawyers?
16. How can mentoring programs increase happiness among associates?
17. What sorts of firm-sponsored social events and activities are most likely to boost happiness?
18. How can firms learn from their employees about how to increase job satisfaction?
19. Can pro bono work boost happiness levels? What sorts of pro bono work has the best effect?
20. 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?
(1) InstaPoll F
5. Identifying and finding ways to use your signature strengths
(1) list of 24 strengths
(2) Values in Action Test of 24 Character Strengths
6. Envisioning your career path
(1) career path exercise
(2) drafting a professional vision statement
(3) identifying tradeoffs: exercise 5. Are happy lawyers better lawyers?
7. Is happiness the best goal for a career?
8. How happy can a career be?
9. Does occasional melancholy have benefits?
(1) melancholy as a trigger to action
(2) down times enhancing appreciation for the up times
Student presentations: Stories and lessons from interviews with experienced lawyers
PART TWO: SEEKING QUALITY IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW
Session 7: The Good Lawyer is Empathetic; The Good Lawyer is Courageous
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Preface and Chapters 1 and 2)
1. What is empathy?
(1) Empathy Quotient test
(2) "All about Empathy," Psychology Today
(3) "Zero Degrees of Empathy" by Prof. Simon Baron Cohen
(4) TED talk: "The Empathetic Civilization" by Jeremy Rifkin
(5) "The Power of Empathy" by Helen Riess
2. How might being empathetic make you a better lawyer?
(1) Empathy's four benefits for lawyers
(2) How can empathy help you to avoid miscommunication?
(3) How can empathy help you to tell a more compelling story?
(4) "Story model" of juror decision-making
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?
(1) Psychodrama demonstration
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?
Group exercise: Develop a strategy for empathizing better with potential clients
1. What is courage?
(1) Raph Nader on the need for moral courage (YouTube)
2. Which of the 3 types of courage--physical, moral, or psychological--do you think is most important to the practice of law?
(1) Searching for Law's Heroes
(2) Trial Heroes
3. Identify a lawyer you think is worthy of a profile in courage--and be ready to explain why.
4. Is it helpful to think of courage as a sort of mean between the extremes of timidity and recklessness?
5. How can you increase the odds that you will act courageously when courage is called for?
(1) Possible ways of increasing the likelihood of taking courageous action
6. What emotions are most likely to trigger courageous action?
7. How does "visualizing the future" serve to reduce anxiety?
8. Religion has been associated with courage. Are the beliefs themselves or support from other members of the religious community that is the more important factor?
Session 8: The Good Lawyer has Ample Willpower
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Chapter 3)
1. What is willpower?
(1) American Psychological Assn, "What You Need to Know About Willpower"
2. Which is your bigger concern--having enough "I will power" (persistence) or enough "I won't power" (self-control)? Take the Grit Survey.
3. How can we increase our willpower?
(1) "The Science of Willpower" (Kelly McGonigal, TED talk)
(2) "The Willpower Instinct" (book talk by Kelly McGonigal)
4. How do each of these factors influence willpower--diet, sleep, physical exercise?
5. Prepare a list of ideas for improving your own willpower.
6. What is the "what-the-hell" effect? What is the licensing effect?
(1) The power of cookies
(2) Situations that challenge our "I won't" power
7. What gender differences are there with respect to persistence and self-control?
8. How does stress drain willpower? What else that lawyers do drains willpower?
(1) Graph of Israeli parole board outcomes over course of day
9. Is willpower "contagious"? ("bad habits spread like germs and nobody is immune")
10. How does having clear goals increase willpower? What type of goals might a lawyer adopt?
11. Why is willpower such a powerful predictor of success?
(1) The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment
(2) Marshmallow experiment on YouTube
12. What is the difference between a "fixed mindset" and a "growth mindset"? Which type do you have?
(1) Growth mindset vs fixed mindset
(2) Stanford: Carol Dweck on Mindsets
(3) TEDx lecture on mindsets
13. What is your time orientation?
(1) --see Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory
(2) Zimbardo, "The Psychology of Time"
(3) Authors@Google, Zimbardo and Boyd on the Time Paradox
Session 9: The Good Lawyer Values Others in the Legal Profession
Reading: The Good Lawyer, Linder/Levit (Chapter 4)
1. What virtues, abilities, and insights can help us better value others in the profession?
2. What virtue is demonstrated in the story about Abraham Lincoln? How exceptional is Abe's behavior?
3. Do you find it surprising that "extreme personal humility" is one of the two characteristics that best define successful leaders?
4. Can humility be learned?
(1) C. S. Lewis on humility
5. Does humility come easier to introverts?
6. Why are negative emotions usually more intense in the young?
7. Is their less civility in practice today? If so, why?
(1) Possible explanations for less civility
8. What does Anthony Kronman mean by "political fraternity"? Is it a realistic goal in practice today?
(1) How we might treat the views of others
9. Why is it difficult today for political opposites to be friends?
10. Find someone who you disagree with about a "hot button issue" (e.g., abortion) and have a discussion about the issue, looking for points of agreement.
11. Think about a close relationship you have with someone whose political views are very different from your own. Write 250 words about that relationship.
(1) political opposites: photo 1
(2) political opposites: photo 2
12. Why do liberals and conservatives disagree?
(1) TED talk: "The moral roots of liberals and conservatives" by Jonathan Haidt
(2) Moral Foundations website
(3) Moral foundations chart (liberals vs conservatives)
(4) Chart showing relative importance of various foundations
(5) Find out your own moral foundations: Your Morals
13. How might having a rough balance between liberals and conservatives contribute to a healthy society?
14. Should law schools and law firms place a greater emphasis on political diversity?
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)
1. Define intuition. How does it work?
(1) Idea Lab, Daniel Kahneman on Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow
(2) Illusion: intuition v deliberative thinking
2. What makes an expert an expert?
(1) How an expert sizes up a situation
3. What roles should fast thinking and slow thinking play in our decision making?
4. Which plays a larger role in our decision making, fast thinking or slow thinking?
5. Why has evolution given us "a machine for jumping to conclusions"?
6. Is the practice of law a regular environment that is conducive to reliable predictions?
7. What thinking strengths are most associated with youth, and which most associated with advanced age?
8. Why are we sometimes better off going with "our gut instincts"?
9. What are the best strategies for countering confirmation bias?
(1) A "surgical instrument'?
10. What conditions are optimal for exploratory thinking?
(1) How to engage in exploratory thinking
11. What does our selective attention suggest about the dangers of multi-tasking?
(1) Count the passes experiment
12. Take heuristics quiz (in class exercise).
13. What is "anchoring"? Why is it important for lawyers to understand anchoring?
(1) Wikipedia, The Anchoring Effect
(2) D. Kahneman on the anchoring effect in negotiations
14. Why do comprehensive frames usually produce better results than narrow frames?
(1) The Map Game
15. Take the Implicit Association Test. Are you surprised at the results?
1. Why do our predictions about the future so often tend to go wrong? What risks to lawyers run when their predictions fail to be reasonably accurate?
(1) Why our predictions go awry
2. Why might female lawyers make more realistic predictions about outcomes than male lawyers?
3. What three factors contribute to overconfidence among lawyers?
4. What are the benefits that might come from our optimism bias?
5. What techniques might most improve our predictions concerning legal outcomes?
(1) looking at general statistics for type of case
(2) carefully considering the arguments and evidence the other side will present
(3) collecting objective information about outcomes
(4) consulting outside sources
(5) computer databases
6. How should one estimate the "expected value" of a case?
(1) Exercise in calculating expected value of a case
7. Why do we overestimate the likelihood of conjunctive events and underestimate the likelihood of disjunctive events?
8. Why might evolution lead to a tendency for most people to be risk averse? Do you consider yourself to be risk averse or risk seeking?
9. What is "presentism" and why is it important for lawyers to understand what it is?
10. How can surrogates help us to better predict the future?
11. The future is hard to predict
(1) Charlie Wilson's War ("Zen Master")
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)
1. Why is the role of an advocate more straightforward than the role of a counselor?
2. Should lawyers serve the asserted interests of clients or, rather, make an effort to understand the true interests of clients? Why?
(1) Four possible aims of lawyers
3. How hard should a lawyer push a client to "do the right thing"?
4. Are "law firms from Mars while clients are from Venus"?
5. What, is anything, is more important between a lawyer and her client than trust? How is trust built?
(1) Ways to build trust with a client
6. Why is it sometimes more important to think like a judge than to think like lawyer?
1. Do you accept the distinction between lawyers who do "People Law" and those who do "Inc. Law"? Why or why not?
(1) Gerry Spence on People Law
(2) A jacket and plaque in Minnesota
2. Have your career goals shifted since you started law school? In what ways?
3. Should law schools require students to take a course focusing on access to justice issues and the skills related to "People Law" practice?
4. How do you define "justice"?
5. When should you refuse to represent a client whose actions, or proposed actions, you see as harmful to the public interest?
6. The duty of prosecutors is to seek justice, not to secure convictions. Why do prosecutors not always act as if this were so?
7. How did humans come to be "the giraffes of altruism"?
(1) Altruism, Wikipedia
8. How would you respond if confronted with the moral dilemmas posed in the "Trolley Problem"?
(1) "Should you kill the fat man?", Philosophy Experiments
(2) YouTube, The Trolley Problem
(2) Trolley Problem, Wikipedia
(3) Trolley Problem, Tomkow.com
9. Is it okay for lawyers to "blur the truth" in briefs and other arguments?
10. Can lawyers always be completely honest?
(1) Honesty about dishonesty
(2) Dan Ariely, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty (video)
11. Under what circumstances are lawyers most tempted to be dishonest? Why are lawyers more likely to be dishonest when representing lawyers they care deeply about?
12. What can you do to make it likely you will be an honest lawyer?
(1) How to be an honest lawyer
13. What steps should be take to increase honesty in the profession?
(1) Abraham Lincoln's Notes for a Law Lecture (1850)
Session 12: The
Good Lawyer is Persuasive; Seeking Quality in a
Rapidly Changing Profession
1. Which of the techniques for improving persuasiveness strike you as the most helpful? Why?
(1) How to be a persuasive lawyer
2. What does Gerry Spence mean by having the courage "to stand naked"?
3. Why is the ability to listen well so important to a lawyer's persuasiveness?
4. How do judges usually decide cases, with their intuitions or through their use of reasoning ability?
5. What edge might conservatives have when it comes to persuading judges?
6. What is the goal of a lawyer in jury selection? Do you see this role as problematic?
7. What might emotional appeals of the sorts made by Clarence Darrow be less effective today? What still works?
(1) Darrow summation in Leopold and Loeb trial ("Compulsion")
8. What times of messages are most likely to be effectively encoded and later recalled?
9. Why might showing respect for an opponent make an lawyer more persuasive?
10. Do you agree that being better prepared is the single most effective way to become more persuasive?
1. What are some of the significant ways in which law has changed/is changing over the past decade or so?
(1) Changes in the legal profession
2. What recent changes in law practice are affecting the quality of lawyering today?
(1) Bloomberg Law, Richard Susskind on the Future of Law Firms (video)
3. What can law firms do to improve the quality of lawyering?
(1) How to create an environment in which good lawyers flourish
4. How do billable hour requirements promote dishonesty?
5. Have law schools placed too much emphasis on LSAT scores and grades, and not enough on the mastery of soft skills or levels of emotional intelligence?
(1) Shultz and Zedeck, "26 Lawyering Effectiveness Factors"
(2) ABA Journal, "The Pedigree Problem"
(3) "If you remember nothing else..."
6. What are your strengths? Take the Brief Strengths Test.
7. Will serving your clients interests bring you into conflict with communities that are important to you?
(1) Representing dragons
8. Imagine yourself at your 25th law school reunion. What story about yourself and your career would you like to be able to tell?
Student presentations: "Where I Stand: What Really Matters in My Career" or "My Professional Journey: Looking Back from My 25th Law School Reunion"
Concluding remarks and in-class examination (1/3 of grade).