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35 J. Legal Educ. 65 (1985)
Psychiatric Distress in Law Students

handle is hein.journals/jled35 and id is 75 raw text is: Psychiatric Distress in Law Students
Stephen B. Shanfield and G. Andrew H. Benjamin
There is general agreement among legal educators that the stress of legal
education is high. Indeed, some students are felt to have levels of distress that
are dysfunctional.' While the first year of law school is universally felt to be
the most stressful, there is also evidence that the third year is equally so.2
There have been few systematic studies of law student distress and much of
the literature is impressionistic and anecdotal.5 These studies have methodo-
logic problems that limit the generality of conclusions that can be drawn
from the data. Inferences are often made on the basis of information from
only one year of law school, usually the first.4 The second and third years of
law school have received scant attention,5 although many researchers
Stephen B. Shanfield, M.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Advanced
Psychiatry Residency Training, and Director of Outpatient Psychiatric Services at the
University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson.
G. Andrew H. Benjamin, MA., J.D., is a Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology,
University of Arizona, Tucson, and Psychology Resident, Department of Psychiatry and
Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington.
Address reprint requests to Stephen B. Shanfield, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, University
of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona 85724 (602-626-6337). The authors would
like to thank Chintamani Sahoo and John Gaines for their assistance with the statistical
1. James B. Taylor, Law School Stress and the Deformation Professionelle, 27 J. Legal
Educ. 251 (1975). Andrew S. Watson, The Quest for Professional Competence: Psychological
Aspects of Legal Education, 37 Cin. L. Rev. 93 (1968). Phyllis W. Beck & David Burns,
Anxiety and Depression in Law Students: Cognitive Intervention, 30 J. Legal Educ. 270
2. Leonard D. Eron & Robert S. Redmount, The Effect of Legal Education on Attitudes, 9 J.
Legal Educ. 431 (1957).
3. See Watson & Taylor, supra note 1. Derek C. Bok, A Flawed System of Law Practice and
Training, 33 J. Legal Educ. 570 (1983). David Margolick, The Trouble with American Law
Schools, New York Times Magazine, May 22, 1983, at 20-38. Roy E. Rickson, Faculty
Control and the Structure of Student Competition: An Analysis of the Law Student Role, 25
J. Legal Educ. 47 (1973). Alan A. Stone, Legal Education on the Couch, 85 Harv. L. Rev.
392 (1971).
4. Paul VanR. Miller, Personality Differences and Student Survival in Law School, 19 J. Legal
Educ. 460 (1967). Michael J. Patton, The Student, the Situation, and Performance During
the First Year of Law School, 21 J. Legal Educ. 10 (1968). Stephen Reich, California
Psychological Inventory: Profile of a Sample of First-Year Law Students, 39 Psychological
Rep. 871 (1976). Lawrence Silver, Anxiety and the First Semester of Law School, 4 Wis. L.
Rev. 1201 (1968). Seymour Warkov, Lawyers in the Making (Chicago, 1965): Joseph Zelan,
Occupational Recruitment and Socialization in Law School, 21 J. Legal Educ. 182 (1968).
5. See Taylor, supra note 1. Eron & Redmount, supra note 2, investigated first- and third-year
law students, and first- and fourth-year medical students. Marilyn Heins, Shirley Nickols
Fahey & Roger C. Henderson, Law Students and Medical Students: A Comparison of
Perceived Stress, 33 J. Legal Educ. 511 (1983), investigated second-year law students as well
as third-year medical students. Walter W. Steele, A Comparison of Attitudes of Freshman
© 1985 by the Association of American Law Schools. Cite as 35 J. Legal Educ. 65 (1985).

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