Educating for well-being in Law: Positive Professional Identities and Practice (Book Review)

  • Aditi Sharma
  • July 26, 2020

Content :

John Austin has defined law by saying that it is the “command of the sovereign”. The existence of a legal system in a society can be of various structures and contains different laws of justice, rules as well as democracy. They may be identified as social customs or decisions of judiciary. The book educating for well-being in law by Routledge focuses on the skillsets a lawyer should possess in order to practice law as a whole. Various people who have excelled in this field like Joanne Atkinson, Lydia Bleasdale, Margaret castles, Rachel Field, Anthony Cullen, etc. have also contributed a lot to the book which makes it a collective effort of these achievers which has to be taken advantage of by the readers to excel in their fields of interest. The practice of law according to Routledge is a Nobel endeavor contributing to the peace and order in the society. A wide range of topics has been covered in this book like resilience, understanding the legal profession, stressors, the 6-hypothesisderived fromdepression anxiety stress scale (DASS-21), satisfaction with life scale (SWLS), Basic psychological need scale (BPNS) and valuing quotient (VQ). It also speaks about connectivity and socialization, self-determination theory, well-being in legal education. The information gap gives a comparative study of the paradigms shaping the perception of career success for law, undergraduates. Professor Hilary Sommerland wrote that ‘work places are “crucibles” of identity of formation.’ Research was hence undertaken. Australian law schools are ‘crucibles’ of professional identities. Crucibles means nothing but metal containers. The writer believes that our workplace highly influences and determines whether we meet our basic requirements. The culture of your workplace determines a lot., it also works a load in encouraging a particular person or even discouraging them for that matter. Effective workplace regulation can encourage legal practices to build up your careers. Irrespective of the career one chooses, your values and your ethics showcase your good or bad decision-making capabilities. A number of companies have a written or fixed set of ethics laid down for their employees to follow. Many companies fail to abide by the ethics, not because they are not written down, they fail because the employees fail to abide by them.A value system is all these beliefs placed and utilized in order of precedence, serving as a guide for everything from decision making up to conflict resolution. s These regulations should be binding on one, as it leads to the profit of any organization your working with or even personal excellence for that matter.  

Normally the work of a lawyer is very complicated, it involves various aspects such as interacting with the client, keeping his/her side in the court after the brief interaction, this also requires an ample amount of paperwork. This book by Routledge is a complete package that offers a student an upper hand while practicing. The book satisfies all the age groups right from students to a well-established practicing lawyer very well. The book also includes the UK bar judgements and their brief explanation. Some great contributors have given their significant share to the book which not only gives us an insight on other’s experiences and opinions but also satisfies the need of learning something or adding up to your already existing knowledge. All the contributors are very experienced or high degree holders of their fields of interest. The book is highly recommended if you are willing to take-up practice. Also, the book is written in such a way that you don’t necessarily have to be a lawyer in order to understand it. It is in a layman language. However, some parts like the judgements of the UK bar cannot be transferred in a layman language. It requires a lot of patience and hardship to explain very minor aspects in the books of law, however this book has it all covered. Though the entire book is rich in value, virtues of self-care for lawyers, values etc. have been spoken a lot about in the first few chapters, although from chapter 7 the book takes a very interesting turn, it speaks about widening the approach to ethics. Very innovative examples have been given. The chapter that has plastered itself to my head even after finishing the book is “which hat should I wear today” it’s very beautifully explained by Emma jones in the context of professional and ethical implications of law which speaks about how supervision of students in a clinical environment happens. Supervisors are capable to provide students with ethical and professional framework in valuing the role modelling and foundation for their future legal selves. However, ‘resilience’ has been the most important aspect as far as this particular book is concerned. A number of people contributing to this book have given their explanation on resilience. The concept of resilience basically means bouncing back or thriving to achieve your goals which is a very important aspect to be shared with the teenagers when it comes to overcoming your failures and bouncing back irrespective. Only the last two chapters stress a lot about the meditation in legal education (the value added towards the well-being of law students) well-being. 

The book connects the course of a lawyer to a student in order to bring about ethical well-being .The criticism of literature has a risk of making the lawyers completely responsible for their condition. Change should be encouraged, which is very important. The values explore the links between well-being and ethical professionalisms. Professional values stand by, or mean, cooperation of an organization or a group for them to function smoothly. Whereas, ethics are usually described in relation with the values. Speaking about meditation in legal languages, it potentially adds to legal education. The book starts with defining what meditation adds to the legal education. Followed by exploring the introduction of meditation in the schools of law. It highly supports the professional identity formation of the students of law. The next chapter focuses on the ability of meditation to potentially increase the power of resilience in a person. Only the last two chapters stress a lot about the meditation in legal education (the value added towards the well-being of law students) well-being. A value system is all these beliefs placed and utilized in order of precedence, serving as a guide for everything from decision making up to conflict resolution. Whereas ethics are described in relation to values. The code of ethics sets forth the standards to which employees are expected to abide and will be held accountable for. Far too many companies have failed because, ethics are laid forward for that matter but not brought into s necessary for employees to familiarize with the ethical code of the organization for the benefit of the organization.

The focus of most of the US, UKand Australian universities is on face to face learning or the traditional method of teaching. The chapter called ‘connectivity, socialization and identity formation speaks about bringing people together with the help of technology, to hence eliminate all the distance between people in order to bring them together. Whereas in identity shaping, “thinking as a lawyer” emphasizes more on critical and analytical thinking.Positive psychology tells us that finding purpose and meaning in life thriving, is important to well-being. Positive professional identity in professional life can be sustained by meaning and purpose. Articles presenting the results of study of the UK bar in which issues of well-being and positive identities are explored. The book is basically filled with soft skills which are a base of not only a practicing lawyer but also all the careers. Though the book is so rich in the development of ‘soft skills, it could stress more on the on-field practice and training of a newly established or a learning lawyer.   The book is a must read if you have to work on your soft skills. Building up your bouncing back abilities (resilience), values (ethical as well as professional) being loyal to your work, connecting with people, building up your social skills is very important to build up connections and positive relations between people, your colleagues which can take you an extra mile, not only forming relations but also maintaining them. Supervision of students in law clinic environment. Supervisors are able to provide students with an ethical and professional framework in valuing the role modelling and foundation for their future legal selves.

Before reading the book, I thought it would be very basic and monotonous which would make it very boring to read and I would not pick up any amount of interest because as we know, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. As even this book had so many writers, reading the preface and about the contributors, I thought that might be the case in book as well. But I must say it proved out to be completely different than what I expected it to be. It just turned out to be a narrative of a series of different chapters written by the knowledgeable in that particular topic. It also lived up to being one of the most sensible book out of all that I have read. even the chapters turned out to be very short and sweet, along with being understandable and worth putting your efforts and money into.

So, the overall plot and build of the book is quite impressive, will definitely recommend it to impart high amount of knowledge into students.