Law 427 - The Law and Your Life

Judith Gordon

Judith Gordon

Lecturer in Law
B.A. Wayne State University, 1976
J.D. Wayne State University, 1981
Course Description:

The Law and Your Life: Aligning Personal Values with the Practice of Law / Fundamentals of Professional Development

Students will explore the practice of law from the perspective of their personal approach to life and the values that matter to them most, as well as examine the oft-inherent conflict between the practice setting of fact and law, and life, with its complex moral overlay. Recent research has documented increasing professional dissatisfaction and accompanying psychopathology among lawyers, often associated with a widening gap between personal values and practice. Substance abuse, depression, and physical illness resulting from prolonged stress are increasingly common. This course will help students identify and align their personal values with their intended law practices, and equip them with lifelong tools for meeting the challenges of practicing law, managing stress and maintaining balance and satisfaction in their lives. Tools will include meditation, breathing, journaling and awareness of the mind-body feedback loop.

Core course aspects include:

  • Exploratory exercises and discussion to help students identify their core values and personal definitions of success, then understand how to integrate those values into their lives and practice, as well as how to recognize success when they achieve it;
  • techniques, including meditation, for coping with stress, long hours, and difficult work situations, that the student can engage at any moment for dealing with a wide range of challenging circumstances;
  • practices that help students maintain good mental and physical health, as well as recognize, interrupt and combat detrimental behaviors/responses to undue stress;
  • fundamentals of professional development—an understanding of the business development side of the practice of law, and why it’s never too soon to start. This session will focus on business development skills and attributes common to all successful "rainmakers."

Development of these abilities will be supported by assigned readings, discussion and actual practice of the skills taught, including meditation. Course materials and sources draw on research studies, relevant texts and popular media. Students will be required to keep a journal for the duration of the course.