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47 Washburn L.J. 453 (2007-2008)
Lucifer Goes to Law School: Towards Explaining and Minimizing Law Student Peer-to-Peer Harassment and Intimidation

handle is hein.journals/wasbur47 and id is 461 raw text is: Lucifer Goes to Law School: Towards Explaining
and Minimizing Law Student Peer-to-Peer
Harassment and Intimidation
Rebecca Flanagan*
A. Naming What We Take for Granted
An article in The Washington Post on March 7, 2007 exposed the
rise of online bullying used to intimidate female law students.1 While
that statement alone hardly creates shockwaves, few in the law school
community would expect that the perpetrators and victims were law
students from Yale Law School.2 Humiliation, intimidation, and har-
assment in law school have been memorialized in movies such as The
Paper Chase and in books such as One L, yet few would use the word
bully to describe law students. By avoiding the word bully, law
schools avoid facing evils lurking in the hallways and the classrooms.
Behaviors modeled by professors, intense competition among students
for scarce jobs, and the relationship between class rank and employ-
ment, result in bullying behaviors as both a cause and a response to stu-
dent depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. These sources of in-
trapersonal distress can result in external behaviors directed toward
peers, family, and friends. While the focus of much research has been
on the internal responses to distress and depression in law students, such
as alcoholism and substance abuse, little research has focused on the ex-
ternal responses to distress and depression among law students. Exter-
nal responses to pressure only partially explain the unique prevalence of
these maladies in law students; bullying is the unnamed missing link in
the causal chain between the law school curriculum and the prevalence
of depression and substance abuse in law schools.
Despite a plethora of anecdotal reports of humiliation and intimi-
dation in law schools, it is difficult to measure bullying and peer intimi-
dation with traditional quantitative techniques. Law students and ad-
* Assistant Professor and Director of Academic Success Program, Vermont Law School.
1. Ellen Nakashima, Harsh Words Die Hard on the Web, WASH. POST, Mar. 7, 2007, at Al.
2. Id

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