By: Janet Stearns, Dean of Students, University of Miami School of Law
The updated ABA Standards on professional identity and well-being are going into effect with this new school year. Many of us are seeking accessible and affordable resources for our law students that will (1) address the fundamental challenges around well-being in the profession and (2) recommend practical strategies and resources. An essential element of this canon is Lawrence (Larry) Krieger’s updated booklet, Create Success Without Stress in the Law: New Science for Happiness, Health and Positive Professional Identity (2023).
Many of this Blog’s readers know of Larry Krieger and his longstanding work in the field of well-being, happiness, and balance in the legal profession. Larry co-directs the Externship Program and has been a clinical professor at Florida State University College of Law for more than thirty years. Together with Professor Kennon Sheldon, he authored the seminal article, What Makes Lawyers Happy: A Data-Driven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success. In 2007, he served as founding Chair of the AALS Section on Balance and Well-Being in Legal Education. He has been recognized by both the American Bar Association (2019) and the Association of American Law Schools (2016) with Outstanding Service awards for his efforts to bring greater health and well-being to law students and lawyers. Larry and I have been crossing paths and sharing passions over these past sixteen years, notwithstanding the healthy rivalry between our two institutions.
In 2005, Larry first self-published a booklet for law students, then called The Hidden Sources of Law School Stress. The next year, he published a companion booklet, Deeper Understanding of Your Career Choices. Over all these years, many law schools (including my own) purchase copies of the books for their law students.
The most recent edition of the booklet is about 40 pages and combines these themes of law school stress and evaluating satisfying career choices into one very readable and concise format. As evident in the title, Larry has also significantly sharpened the focus on “positive professional identity” in this latest edition, which makes it a very valuable addition to our toolbox. This recent book has greatly benefited from the collaboration, inspiration, and insights of Theresa Krieger. Theresa is a certified health coach, life coach, spiritual coach, and a fitness trainer recognized by the American College of Sports Medicine. She has worked holistically with law students and lawyers since 2016. The couple created and co-teach a course at the FSU College of Law on well-being, professional identity, and transformational leadership. Lessons from that class are infused throughout this latest edition.
The booklet has six major sections:
- Stress is a choice that you don’t have to make
- Put healthy limits on your legal thinking
- Fear of failure and the illusion of control
- Partying, depression, and distraction
- Finding the right job: surface value or satisfaction value
- Quick and powerful practices to start now (my favorite part, but which flows naturally from the previous sections)
Larry has an incredible understanding of law students and speaks directly to them with honesty and compassion. He covers data and literature on our profession, but also speaks to their worries, doubts, and common stress points. While I cannot promise that every single law student will read the book, those who do have always given it positive reviews and are filled with gratitude that this resource was offered to them.
When should we share this book with students? I suggest five main options:
- Orientation. The book could be shared and distributed with other materials during law school orientation to prepare students for the law school experience, frame common issues and concerns, and prepare them for the path ahead.
- Wellness Week/ Mental Health Day. Many law schools celebrate World Mental Health Day (October 10) with some wellness programming. Larry’s booklet is a wonderful centerpiece for the Wellness Week Initiative, a great handout for a wellness fair, or it can be integrated into other presentations.
- Professional Responsibility and Professional Identity Courses, as part of a focused class on lawyer happiness and well-being, or as a supplement to other textbooks.
- Student Affairs and Counseling Staff, who should have this available as a handout for the student in crisis. Our offices are filled with students with significant anxiety about the law school experience, whether to continue, how to balance competing demands on time and navigate law school’s inevitable stressors. Larry’s book is an amazing and concrete resource, and it has already served as a lifeline to a generation of students.
- Career Development Advisors, who can provide this booklet to students as they are evaluating summer or permanent job options, and trying to plan for their pathway into the profession.
At Miami Law, we typically invest each summer in a supply of Larry’s booklet that would cover our entire first-year class, and then purchase additional copies as needed for our student affairs and career development teams.
If you are interested in investing in Larry’s book for your law school, then please email him directly at email@example.com. He self-publishes the book at the incredibly affordable price of $1.75 to $3 per booklet (based upon quantity) plus shipping.