Stimulating strategic change in legal education to address high levels of psychological distress in law students

2010 ALTC Teaching Fellow

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Associate Professor Rachael Field

Fellowship years: 2010 - 2014

Abstract: Strategic change is necessary in legal education. More than one-third of law students suffers from psychological distress, and the competitive, isolating, adversarial learning environment at law school has been suggested as partly responsible (Brain and Mind Research Institute, 2009). The rate of psychological distress in law students is 17 per cent higher than for medical students, and more than 20 per cent higher than for the general population. The psychological health of law students is a critical issue for Australian legal education. This fellowship program will mobilise strategic change to improve the psychological health of law students. It will lead and stimulate advancement in the legal curriculum, its pedagogy, and assessment practice to better engage, motivate and support student learning of law, focussing on the potential of non-adversarial legal practice. A new conceptual framework for legal education will result, demonstrating the pursuit of excellence in the teaching of law, and raising the profile of learning and teaching in Australian law schools.

Fellowship discipline: Law

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