Researching students’ emotional responses to challenging encounters in a live clinic setting
Given concern at levels of psychological distress in the legal profession and at law school, this paper explores the experience of student barristers undertaking clinical work with real clients. They work with clients in employment, social security and domestic violence cases.
Three iterations of the research used survey and focus groups to explore their responses to clients facing emotional distress, aggressive opponents or unsympathetic judges. Using a theoretical model based on self-determination theory and developing student understanding of their own developing empathy and professionalism it seeks to help them to maintain and develop the well-being necessary to thrive.