Journal of Law and Social Policy

Document Type

Voices and Perspectives

English Abstract

HOW DO YOU NEGOTIATE TRAUMA AND EMOTIONS IN YOUR CLASSROOM? Posing this open-ended question to law professors not only begets more questions, but also often elicits a reflexive retort: law professors dare not present themselves as mental health experts and law schools have mental health resources for students having difficulties. The difficulty of this approach is that in 2021, most law students are no longer willing to accept that their legal education must suppress emotions, including trauma.2 For classrooms where professors may be less comfortable with emotional discussions, they may find themselves challenged and perhaps even feel obstructed from teaching their subject matter with the freedom and expertise it deserves. Are we simply dealing with an overly sensitive generation? Or are we being pushed to make overdue changes that will improve legal teaching, legal education, and eventually the profession? I would propose that identifying and trying a combination of simple strategies (some suggested below) that better acknowledge trauma (whether or not the professor chooses to use that term, and whether or not the class is a small seminar or large lecture) is to everyone’s advantage in today’s law school.

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