A Guide to Preparing Law Students and Rising Lawyers to Thrive in Law School, the Legal Profession, and Beyond

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Boston University School of Law
Kathryn Zeiler, Boston University School of Law


The primary focus of this Guide is to highlight some of the resources, strategies, and practices that you can adopt to help foster an institutional culture of well-being. Law schools and the legal profession need to be responsive to the well-being of our community members—now more than ever.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being (the “Committee”) hosted a series of Town Halls to hear from law students across the Commonwealth about, in part, their lived experiences with well-being and challenges regarding the same. Several prevalent themes quickly emerged. For example, students reported feeling stressed by law school in general and by their respective institutions specifically, in part due to a lack of availability and transparency regarding support systems. There were also reported feelings of isolation where students struggled to learn from relatively inflexible, traditional legal education methodologies. This was especially the case for students from historically underrepresented communities in the legal profession. In addition, student organization leaders, many of whom are from such marginalized backgrounds, reported having to expend substantial effort and time coordinating well-being programming for their peers, filling a need unmet by their law schools.

Additionally, in February 2022, the American Bar Association amended its law school accreditation Standard 303(b) on curriculum to require, among other things, that law schools “provide substantial opportunities to students for . . . (3) the development of a professional identity.” Accompanying Interpretation 303-5 explains in relevant part that “[t]he development of a professional identity should involve an intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices considered foundational to successful legal practice.”

With these revisions, the ABA has underscored the importance of incorporating well-being in the fabric of legal education. Accordingly, this Guide provides strategies and resources law schools can use to meaningfully and purposefully integrate wellness in law school curricula and programming.