Date Chartered: 5/22/2007
The Section on Balance in Legal Education seeks to investigate, discover, and inspire those practices that support the well-being of law students, lawyers, and judges. The Section encourages research into the conditions that allow students and practitioners to thrive, both personally and professionally, and informs the membership of the Association of American Law Schools about the results of that research. Among other things, Section activities explore the importance of health, compassion, integrity, and ethics to the effective study and practice of law. The Section promotes continual re-examination of pedagogical practices, program content, and institutional priorities to promote the long-term best interests of law students and the constituencies they will serve.
The AALS Section on Balance in Legal Education’s Executive Committee and Past Chairs are united in outrage by George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, as well as the subsequent actions by the current administration and many federal, state, and local police officials.
George Floyd’s murder, along with the killings of Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and countless other Black Americans by police—as well as the killings of those such as Ahmaud Arbery by citizens—are stark reminders of the systemic and structural racism connected to anti-Blackness that continues to plague our legal system and society.
We stand in solidarity with all those who are protesting racial injustice and police brutality.
As a Section, we are committed to studying the relationship between health, compassion, integrity, and ethics to the effective study and practice of law and to the elimination of systemic, structural, and cultural racial oppression.
In making this commitment, we recognize the generations of trauma that impact so many of us, our communities, and our society as a result of violence, discrimination, and oppression based upon the color of one’s skin.
In making this commitment, we also recognize the privilege many of us experience merely because we are not subject to that racial violence, discrimination, or oppression.
Finally, in making this commitment, we recognize that as members of the legal academy, we are responsible for educating future lawyers not only to fight injustice, but to turn inward and recognize the advantages they and we have. We recognize that as lawyers, our professional identities are tied to our social responsibilities to overall justice, to a functioning and content society, to a fair court system, and to ourselves. We recognize that “Equal Justice Under the Law” has to be more than just the inscription on the U.S. Supreme Court building, and that we must do our part to ensure that it is an ideal the nation and all of its institutions and officials live up to and that all of its citizens realize.
We offer our expertise to help those suffering from mental or emotional distress arising from the constructed inequality in our society. We recognize and accept our own social and professional advantages, and encourage others to engage in compassionate introspection of their own privilege as well as to have honest conversations about racial injustice.
Most critically, we offer compassion, understanding, and empathy to all, as we join everyone who continues to remind the world that Black Lives Matter.
AALS Section on Balance in Legal Education Executive Committee
Jarrod Reich, Chair
Rosario Lozada, Chair-Elect
Deborah Borman, Chair-Elect Emeritus
Chad Noreuil, Secretary
Debra Austin, Immediate Past Chair
Camille Lamar Campbell
Brittany Stringfellow Otey
Sonia Gipson Rankin
AALS Section on Balance in Legal Education Past Chairs
The foregoing is a statement of the Executive Committee and Past Chairs of the Balance in Legal Education Section of the Association of American Law Schools. It does not necessarily represent the position of the Association.
Many of us have found ourselves more sedentary during the pandemic shut down, especially with the closing of gyms, yoga studios and other places where many of us (and our students) get our exercise, especially when it gets cold. Yet even if we are not exercising or doing our other routines, physical movement is still important to all of us for many reasons, both physical and mental. This brief session will introduce you some useful principles for physical activity that you can do at home without special equipment, including two key stretches for those of us who sit too much in front of a computer, as well as four kinds of activity to help provide a balanced workout appropriate for members of the Balance Section of the AALS. Our special guest will be Massachusetts Fitness Professional Tony Colesano, who has worked with me and my students to help learn his Three Laws of Motion, among other things. Come prepared to watch, but perhaps even to move, if you would like to do so.
Click here to download a copy of the Presentation.
Click here to view the Webinar Replay.
Since the onset of the pandemic our work has become much more than teaching. Although we want to help as much as possible, being helpers for stressed out students is emotionally draining to us individually. We hear and we listen, and we assist to the point where we find ourselves numb, and we still forge ahead to continue to help the students, ignoring our own vulnerabilities and to overlooking our own needs. We have a self-care blind spot as teacher-helpers. We experience compassion fatigue. One thing that is helpful to reduce compassion fatigue is to color Mandalas. The word Mandala comes from the ancient Sanskrit language and loosely means “circle” or “center.” With ancient roots, the Mandala is used in indigenous practices around the globe and symbolizes sacred ceremonial space and the circle of life. In both eastern and western cultures, the Mandala has come to symbolize harmony, unity, wholeness, and healing. Our brain treats coloring as meditation, which is a hard thing for some of us who have difficulty calming our minds.
Click here to download a printable mandala to color.
As lawyers and academics we often primarily engage and (over)work the brain and intellectual center of the body. Yoga as a holistic system provides a means to integrate the mind-body-spirit which enables us to be less overwhelmed by the constantly changing nature of our world and the challenges it presents. The path of yoga is much more than asana or physical posture practice. Join Certified Level 1 Iyengar Yoga Teacher, Alison Lintal for a brief yoga philosophy discussion followed by a short guided yoga practice where we will explore how alignment in the physical sheath of the body can provide courage and support to the constantly fluctuating mind, especially during challenging or uncertain times. Those who are new to yoga as well as experienced practitioners are both welcome.
Studies and statistics continue to reveal the devastating effects of chronic stress, substance abuse, and depression among attorneys. Today, the challenges of practicing law are further exacerbated by a global health crisis and continuing evidence of racial injustice in our country. For a sustainable legal profession, attorney well-being must become a core value. Educators are positioned to send the message: law students who attend to all dimensions of their well-being are more likely to become attorneys who do the same. And healthy advocates are better equipped to competently and ethically serve their clients, the profession, and society. In this session, we’ll explore micro-practices that promote well-being awareness among our law students. Ranging from zero to three minutes in length, each practice offers law professors of any discipline creative ways to introduce the empowering language of well-being into the law school classroom.
A Discussion with Sociologist-Legal Scholar Kathryne Young, author of “How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School”
Professor Young discusses the research behind her book, How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School (2018). Young’s book offers law students holistic guidance on how to navigate the academic, social, and economic pressures of the law school environment, including (i) maintaining mental wellbeing and tackling impostor syndrome; (ii) selecting courses and extracurricular activities; and (iii) forming relationships with mentors and peers. Young and Lozada (AALS Host) discuss ways in which law students across the country have used this book as a spring board for conversations about well-being, including a book club.
This presentation will discuss key concepts from the speakers’ book: Mindful Lawyering: The Key to Creative Problem Solving. The speakers, Shailini Jandail George, Samantha Alexis Moppett, and Kathleen Elliott Vinson, will discuss the need for mindfulness and creativity to effectively problem solve as a lawyer. They will also offer examples of how to be mindful and maximize creativity when problem solving.
In this recording, Dr. Eran Magen (Scientific Director, Circles of Support, email@example.com) reviews ways to prevent law student burnout by strengthening available support and detecting early signs of distress, using two complementary approaches employed by medical schools: (1) My MD-to-Be: Educating family members and/or significant others about ways to effectively support students, using ongoing educational materials tailored to each school’s curriculum (including an example specific for law schools, My JD-to-Be); (2) Early Alert: Identifying students in early stages of distress and immediately referring them to support resources, using a confidential text messaging system for ongoing proactive check-ins.
The last twenty years have seen an increase in the diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In this webinar, the presenter speculates that the increase in ADHD and ASD diagnoses is likely to impact our enrollment in law schools. Because of this postulated change, law professors should know how ADHD and ASD influence our non-neurotypical students and how their unique symptomatology may be exemplified in the classroom. The presenter discusses changes that she has implemented to assist the student with ADHD and or ASD in their challenges with: organization, focus, set shifting and social skills. At the close of the webinar, the presenter opens up the discussion for questions and suggestions from the live participants.
Teaching Methods (Co-Sponsored by Balance in Legal Education)
Section on Student Services and Part-Time Division Programs Joint Program (Co-Sponsored by Balance in Legal Education)