Why Law Schools Are Failing Future Lawyers By Not Talking About Human Suffering

From Jeena Cho authored by Jeena Cho:

“Lawyering is hard.

Being human is hard. This human condition — as Buddha said:

“the [first] noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering.”

Perhaps they should’ve taught this in law school — as lawyers, we are in the suffering business. Clients rarely come to see a lawyer with happy news. They often come to see us during their lowest, darkest, and scariest moments.

Yet, for the most part, legal education glosses over the fact that as lawyers, we’ll regularly meet with clients in crisis, clients who experienced some type of trauma. 

In Torts class, we’re asked to review the facts, write it into concise statement, frame the issue, recite the rules, run the analysis and come to a conclusion — my client should win.

Nowhere are we taught that the act of sitting with someone who is suffering — someone who has been unjustly treated, physically, emotionally, psychologically or financially harmed, or lost dignity, limbs, or loved ones — is really deeply painful and hard work.

Instead, we are regularly told nonsense like, we’re lawyers, we shouldn’t have emotions.

We are taught to only focus on the clients, neglect our own well-being, never show our “weakness,” always be tough and be warriors.

Lawyers are taught to deny their emotional and psychological experiences that results from doing their work. The only “remedy” is to have a few stiff drinks (or few glasses of wine) to get over the pain of having had a tough day.”

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