An admissions officer just sent me this link about at study showing that "the emotional distress of law students appears to significantly exceed that of medical students and at times approach that of psychiatric populations." Wowza.
I won't argue with their empirical findings, but I do question the underlying reason they offer:
The problem with most law schools, the authors write, is that they place little emphasis on hiring faculty members with proven records of teaching excellence. Instead, they tend to "emphasize theoretical scholarship and the teaching of legal theory, and many hire and reward faculty primarily based on scholarly potential and production," say the authors. Observers suggest, they add, "that such priorities and processes train students to ignore their own values and moral sense, undermine students' sense of identity and self-confidence, and create cynicism."
That's the state of affairs at just about all the major research universities, all of which reward scholarship and theory above teaching and insist on moral relativism, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. If that causality holds true, then everyone coming out of Harvard or Columbia or Stanford would be just as much of a basketcase. So there must be something special about law school. I'm open to theories.
I'll throw this one out there: In my experience, the majority of law school students have absolutely no good reason to be there. I've heard over and over again from applicants how they have no idea what they want to do with themselves but expect to figure that out in law school. It doesn't matter how many times I tell them that's a really boneheaded plan (and so passive -- who wants to wait and see where the tide drops them off three years and six figures later?). Some of that angst and indecisiveness and failure to plan and path-of-least-resistance mentality must play itself out during law school (and certainly afterwards).
Mind you, I've worked with pre-med and med school folks as well, and there are lots of med school students who are there only because their parents pushed them into it. All the professions suffer from that problem to some degree, and perhaps it's worse with law school and med school. What do you think?