Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness: Promoting law student well-being through a first year law subject

Rachael Field, James Duffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Australian law teachers are increasingly recognising that psychological distress is an issue for our students. This article describes how the Queensland University of Technology Law School is reforming its curriculum to promote student psychological well-being. Part I of the article examines the literature on law student psychological distress in Australia. It is suggested that cross-sectional and longitudinal studies undertaken in Australia provide us with different, but equally important, information with respect to law student psychological well-being. Part II describes a subject in the QUT Law School - Lawyering and Dispute Resolution - which has been specifically designed as one response to declines in law student psychological well-being. Part III then considers two key elements of the design of the subject: introducing students to the idea of a positive professional identity, and introducing students to non-adversarial lawyering and the positive role of lawyers in society as dispute resolvers. These two areas of focus specifically promote law student psychological well-being by encouraging students to engage with elements of positive psychology - in particular, hope and optimism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-156
Number of pages24
JournalQueensland University of Technology Law & Justice Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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