CHRIS NEWBOLD:

Hello, well-being friends. And welcome to The Path to Well-Being in law podcast, an initiative of the Institute for Well-Being in Law. I’m your co-host Chris Newbold, executive vice-president of ALPS Malpractice Insurance. And again, you all know now that what we are really excited about in this podcast is to introduce you to thought leaders doing meaningful work in the well-being space.

And we know that in the process that this army of well-being advocates is growing, and our goal is also to build and nurture a national network of well-being advocates intent on creating a culture shift within the profession. And I’m really excited for today’s podcast because so much of what the future of our profession ultimately starts with how we’re training the next generation of law students. And so we’re on the cusp here of starting a three-part kind of mini series and really focusing in on well-being and law schools.

And we are super excited to be welcoming I think one of really the kind of showcased law schools in the country when we think about kind of focusing on well-being as part of the culture within the law school environment. We are excited to welcome Linda Sugin to the podcast. And Bree, would you introduce Linda for us?

BREE BUCHANAN:

Absolutely. And hello everybody. Professor Sugin, and we’re just going to call you Linda really is you can see, and we have not met before, but looking at your just history, it’s clear that you have so much passion for the well-being of the students and that your bio, you’ve been a part of the Fordham Law faculty since 1994 and moved into the associate dean for academic affairs in 2017. And it seems like that you just sort of took the school by storm in a way and putting in amazingly new, innovative programs to address what I imagine you were seeing, which was at least a lot of dis ease among the student population there.

And so it’s just really clear that you saw that problem and you got to work. Professor Sugin’s scholarly interests focus on issues of distributive justice in taxation and the governance of nonprofit organizations. She was the 2021 recipient of the dean’s medal of achievement, well-deserved, and the 2007 recipient of Fordham Law School’s Teacher of the Year Award. So Linda, thank you so much for being here today.

I’m not going to go through the details of your bio because we’re going to kind of pull that out as we go through this podcast today. But I want to start off with the question that we always begin with. I think it’s one of the most interesting pieces that we get from our guests, which is to hear about what brought you to what is now a movement, the well-being in law of movement. And we found that typically people have some passion or experience in their life that drives their work. So tell us what brought you to this work and welcome to our podcast.

LINDA SUGIN:

Thank you so much. And thank you for that kind introduction. And thank you, Bree and Chris for inviting me to this podcast today. So I have to admit that I actually came to this pretty late in my career, that I spent more than 20 years as a law professor without really being focused or aware of this at all. In my career as a professor, I’ve always loved my students and I’ve tried to nurture them as best as I can, but I never really questioned the basic way that law school is structured and the way that students traditionally learn in law school environments.

But when I became the associate dean in 2017, the first thing I did was convene a student advisory board to hear what students wanted and needed most from the law school. And I was kind of surprised that what I heard was a lot of frustration, a lot of disappointment, a lot of shame, and a lot of anger. And I really saw how much pain so many students were feeling because of what was happening within the law school, with their classmates, with their teachers.

And so it was really that experience that led me to committing myself to improving the student experience by trying to better understand the emotional reality of students. I realized that we could never succeed with our academic mission if we continue to ignore the emotional toll that law school was taking on so many students. And so that’s what really brought me to it.

BREE:

Wow. I love those words. Just when you talked about the power of those emotions that you were hearing about the shame and anger just those are powerful things. And I also was really impressed when you were talking about the emotional reality of students, and I’ll tell you to hear what I would think a stereotypical tax professor, my experience with tax professors to talk about the emotional reality of their students and focusing on that, that’s just amazing so I can see why you’re so good at what you do.

CHRIS:

Linda, it sounds like your student advisory group, I’m guessing that your impressions surprised you a bit from that early group discussion.

LINDA:

They did, they did because I had never really taken such a broad view of what was going on in the law school, that I had my own classes, that I had sort of total control over. But I really wasn’t aware of a lot of the dynamic that was happening throughout the law school both in and out of the classroom. And I think that that’s what’s really important, is to understand that law school is a really immersive experience for students and the culture of law school is very challenging for many students coming in.

CHRIS:

Well, let’s set the stage a little bit. Can you just give us some context for Fordham Law School, right? Location, size, focus, types of students, kind of what the existing culture was maybe before you kind of more kind of deliberately started to focus on it. We’d just kind of love to set the stage on kind of learning a little bit more about the law school itself.

LINDA:

Okay, great. Yeah. So Fordham Law School actually is a really great place and always has been a great place. It’s a Jesuit school, and we have a tradition of public service that really stems from that. And Fordham has historically welcomed students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession. So the first black woman to practice law in New York state was a 1924 graduate of Fordham Law School. And so we go way back in our institutional commitment to inclusion, community and holistic learning.

But at the same time, we are one of the largest law schools in the country within the top 10 and we have over 400 students who come in every year. The good part of that is it makes a very vibrant academic life. There’s tons going on all the time. But it also presents a challenge for creating connection. It’s very easy for students to feel invisible in that crowd and so it’s really important to find smaller communities within the law school where people really find what they’re passionate about and where they can really excel.

We are also smack in the middle of New York city. Our students come from all over the country and all over the world actually, but most of them want to stay and work in New York when they graduate. We are right next door to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, down the block from the Time Warner Center, which is all fantastic, but we don’t have much housing for students on campus. And so many of our students commute from a long distance because our neighborhood is very expensive.

And actually over the 25 years that I’ve been at Fordham Law School, the neighborhood has become increasingly expensive. And that physical distance and being in the middle of the city with all of the excitement and stimulation of the city makes community building even more challenging. And so there are many wonderful things about Fordham Law School, but also challenges connected to the kind of issues that we’re focusing on today.

BREE:

So Linda, tell me, I was looking at your bio and the work that you’ve done there at Fordham, and it looks like a real area of focus that you’ve been developing is around the professionalism for students. And I want to ask you what were you seeing among the students? I know that you had the focus group, but what are some of the areas that you’re trying to address when you’re focusing on students’ professionalism and what does that mean? We’ve got that word there and it’s easy to assign a meeting, but what do you mean when you talk about professionalism for your students?

LINDA:

Yes. Thank you for asking that question because I do think that people have different ideas of what professionalism is. I see professionalism as really a very broad category of all the different kinds of capabilities that individuals need to succeed in the legal profession. So mental health and wellness is certainly one important part of it, but I focused on other aspects under that umbrella as well. And I think they’re all connected to each other.

One of the things that I was seeing when I started thinking about doing this kind of work was that depending on where students worked before coming to law school or other experiences that they had in their backgrounds, some students didn’t know the expectations that other people might have for lawyers, people like judges, for example. And so we developed some programming around that, what the expectation is going to be, and I call that the integrity programming, right?

Nothing is more important for lawyers than integrity. But I felt like some students had a more developed understanding and some students just needed more education in what that meant as lawyers. And then in addition, there are lots of professional skills that are not really part of what we think of as the traditional professional skills curriculum that we have in law schools. So every law school has a curriculum that includes interviewing, counseling, negotiation.

But the skills that I really have focused on are little mushier, skills like effective listening, empathy, self-awareness, giving and getting feedback, growth mindset, understanding cognitive biases. I’m really committed to lawyering as a service profession, a helping profession and that drives a lot of this for me. We need to orient ourselves so that we can really be a helping profession. I sometimes think about former students that I’ve had and one who comes to mind is I once had a truly brilliant student who would critique his classmates’ arguments in the most devastating way. And I tried to teach him how to have a more productive disagreement.

So I think that it’s really important that lawyers recognize the humanity in every person and learn how to advocate, defend and disagree with respect and compassion. And I feel like that’s a huge piece of professional education as well. In our polarized times, this is really hard for people to do.

BREE:

Right.

LINDA:

But I think that it’s a really important part of the project because it’s essential, I think for what lawyers really care about, which is justice.

CHRIS:

That’s awesome because, I mean, it feels like we hear a lot about emotional intelligence, right? And it feels like in some respects, you’re focusing, again, some of your efforts intentionally on the emotional readiness of lawyers as they enter the profession, which again, I’m not certain a lot of peer institutions in the law schools, they may talk about it, but it seems like you’re going at it with some notion of intentionality.

LINDA:

Yeah. And so we don’t think that our students will know everything about the law when they get out, but the idea is that we give them the tools so they can learn what they need to learn when they get out into the real world. And I feel like these are crucial tools to enable them to navigate all the spaces that they’re going to be in after they graduate.

CHRIS:

What a worthy investment. And then it feels like there’s a couple of other foundational building blocks in your program, namely the peer mentorship program and the house program. Can you describe those programs and how they work and what they’re designed to do for students?

LINDA:

Yeah. So those are our two biggest initiatives that come under this professionalism umbrella and the key design feature of both of these programs is institutional infrastructure. The students being served are at the center, but there is a whole web of support that we’ve built around them. And that support includes faculty, it includes administrators, it also includes other students. A really big and important part of our professionals in programming is leadership development.

And we have been thoughtful about where we use leadership and where we use professionalism because they’re related but I don’t think that they’re entirely the same. So it’s key in these programs that we support the students who participate in these programs as the leadership. So the house system we developed primarily for the first year students and it’s organized by sections. So law school is still the same as it was when I went where all first year students, or at least at Fordham it is, all first-year students have all their classes with the same cohort, and so we call that cohort a house.

But what we did within that structure is three things. So the first thing is that we used the house to connect students with faculty and administrators. So there’s a faculty house leader who runs programs and the students can turn to with problems and questions. Usually that’s a person who’s not one of their teachers and the idea is that this is sort of a neutral faculty member who understands the institution, understands where these students are going and what their needs might be.

In addition, there are librarians, student affairs counselors, career planning counselors, and other people assigned to each house so that students know people in all the administrative offices that they’re going to need to work with. And we think that this really eases the entree to looking for a job, getting academic support when you need it. In addition, there are alumni mentors, mostly recent graduates for each house.

So the house is really designed to create connections for students with people in all these different ways who will be essential to their development as lawyers. The second thing the house does is it’s the place where we do a lot of programming around professionalism. So programs on choosing career paths and thinking about co-curricular activities, mental health, equity and inclusion. We have specific programs on a lot of different things.

Some of them are more formal, some of them are more casual, but the idea is that the students get together for house meeting every week. There is a real curriculum and so it deserves to be treated as part of the academic program. And that has been great in many ways because there were so many random programs that students had to or should take part in and this was a way to organize it and to really rationalize the curriculum as a whole.

And the third thing is that house is social. It gives students an opportunity to interact with each other in a context other than class. So this was a little hard in the pandemic, but we did the best we could, we hope it’ll grow more when we’re back in person. But the idea being that there are house parties, there are inter-house competitions, pro bono projects that the houses do, really giving students a way to interact with each other that’s outside of the strict confines of their classes in which students seem so one-dimensional to each other.

And so we think that the community of students that we create the first year is really key to the continued success of students throughout their law school career. The peer mentorship program is really my passion project. It grew directly out of the student advisory board that I mentioned and it’s designed for second year students.

And what I learned in talking to students was that we kind of had been ignoring students starting their second year, but that that’s a point of tremendous vulnerability for a lot of students, that the first year we decide everything for them, they don’t get to choose any of their classes, it’s the rigid schedule and then they have their first summer, some students will be disappointed with their first year grades, some will have had failed job searches, most students will not have made law view.

And so the beginning of the second year, it turns out, is a really tough time for a lot of students. And after taking care of all decisions for them in the first year, at the beginning of the second year we’re like, “Okay, go. Now, do what you want.” And so that is an easy moment for students to feel overwhelmed, to feel isolated. But really the law school never recognized how precarious students can be at the start of their second year.

And so what we did in the peer mentorship program is that we created a system where there would be third year mentors for second year mentees. And the key aspect of the program is that all mentors must take a class that focuses on mentoring skills. There are three of us who teach the program. So the director of professionalism who we hired in 2019 teaches with me as does an additional adjunct who is a 2018 graduate of the law school.

But the idea is that the teachers support the mentors who support the mentees. And of course, the skills that we teach in the class are skills that are not only useful for being a good mentor, they are useful for being effective lawyers and good professionals after graduation as well. So the program is voluntary for both the second and the third years, but it has grown exponentially since it started in 2018. And I hope that eventually all students will choose to participate because I think it can be a really enriching experience no matter what the students’ experiences are.

BREE:

Wonderful. Linda, when I was thinking about a common theme for both of those programs, and it looks like a lot of your work is to help create connection, which is so vital to a sense of well-being and to break through the sense of isolation. There’s a research that came out in the last year or so that showed that lawyers are the loneliest of all professionals. And I think a lot of that can start in law school with the inherent sense of being in competition with everyone that you’re there with. I wanted to ask you also going back to the very beginning of the law school experience, and you’ve done a lot around the orientation process. Could you talk to us about what changes you ushered in for the August orientation for everyone and what issues you were trying to address?

LINDA:

Yeah, sure. So I’m a tax professor and some years ago I spearheaded a project to teach students some basic quantitative skills that lawyers need. Of course, people come to law school because they never want to do anything quantitative again. But of course, when you become a lawyer, you realize that you actually need to have some quantitative skills. So we put it in orientation because we saw that as part of a toolbox really for students beginning their law school journey.

You have to learn how to brief a case and you have to have some other basic tools also. So when I became associate dean, it occurred to me that we should do the same thing for professional tools, that we should make sure that students have what they need so that they can better succeed in law school and as lawyers. And so we added a module to orientation that focuses on personal values and developing a professional identity. From day one, we want students to think about how they can be lawyers while also being their authentic best selves.

In their first days of law school, we talk about implicit bias and anti-racism, growth mindset, vulnerability and empathy, and character strengths. The idea being you came here for a reason and we want you to remember what that reason was and be the kind of lawyer that you want to be. And so we sort of start that message in orientation, all the things you do in orientation, you have to keep doing it again. And of course, it’s worth revisiting so many of the things that we do in orientation later on. But our ongoing development of the professionalism curriculum is about building competencies throughout these areas.

In addition, one of the big things that we did with orientation is that we added an orientation in the middle of the first year in January. So before the students come back for their second semester, they spend a day, this coming year we’ll make it a two day program but the idea was that there were some things that we couldn’t do in August because the students hadn’t yet built the trust that they would need to have certain kinds of conversations. So we wanted to do a deeper dive into anti-racism and engage students in more sensitive conversations.

And it seemed that students would be better prepared to do that after a semester and it would really be too early to do that in August. And so we made that a full day program in January all about equity and inclusion. And last year, we were able to hire a director of diversity who has been fantastic designing and leading this program. Next year, we’re planning to build out the January orientation into a two day program so that students can also reflect on their strengths, values and commitments as they start on their second semester and really dig deep into growth mindset, which is so important to their continued success in law school.

BREE:

Wow. That’s profound. I really am particularly impressed listing to adding in that January orientation and being really thoughtful about where do we place basically this curriculum for our students. And that is just fabulous. Linda, we’re going to take a break to hear from our sponsor right now and then when we get back, we’re going to get to hear more about what you’re working on. So thank you, and we’ll be right back. Welcome back everybody. And we have with us today, Professor Linda Sugin, the associate dean for academic affairs at Fordham Law School.

And Linda, we were just talking about the orientation programs and all of these ideas of really around helping students feel connected and breaking through some of the isolation. Could you just talk generally about these programs we just discussed? How do you see them helping the students maintain, I guess, their mental health and the best place to be able to learn as students and benefit from their law school experience?

LINDA:

Yes. Thank you. So what we have seen in looking at the success of our students after they graduate is that connection in law school is the most important indicator of success. And so we were very, very purposeful in trying to figure out ways that could find their home, their connections within the law school. And a lot of students do it organically. The students who are on a competition team or on a journal, they often find their smaller cohort that really supports them but there are always some students who fall through those cracks.

And so those are the students that we are trying to help find connection. And so let me focus a little bit more on the peer mentorship program because that’s one of the biggest initiatives that we have. I mentioned it before, but I’ll tell you a little bit more about how it’s organized. So we have it so that all students are part of a group with more than one mentor. Last year, we had a lot of mentees so most groups had two or three mentors and five or six mentees. And so that gives you a little community within the law school that you can work out any way that it works for you.

And some of the groups really click as a whole, and that’s like a little team there of seven or eight students. Some of the groups end up pairing off in various ways and individuals find connections between mentors and mentees on different issues or for different reasons. And it’s all good, we feel like it really works out. I’m going to stick my neck out here a little bit and say I think all students feel isolation, self-doubt and fear, even the strongest students feel those things.

And it really breaks my heart that so many of them think that they’re the only ones having these feelings because that’s what they think. And if they could just be a little bit more vulnerable with each other, they would find so much shared experience and mutual reassurance. So having a person or a group to share your insecurities with is really important. The peer mentors are only one year ahead of the mentees.

So they have just a little bit of knowledge that the mentees don’t have, but they are really in the same place as the mentees in so many ways. So lots of the mentors are still looking for jobs, they’re questioning whether they want to be lawyers, they’re still struggling to finish their homework on time, right? So they’re feeling a lot of the same feelings and they can really understand what the second year mentees are going through.

There’s just enough distance there and enough closeness that they can really provide crucial support that I think nobody else can. The faculty can’t do that, their families who don’t understand what’s happening in law school can’t really do that. And so that was really why the program was designed. But my greatest surprise pleasure of the peer mentorship program has been seeing the mentors grow. So because they take this class with me, I watch them and I can see how they grow in confidence and well-being over the course of the semester.

The course that the peer mentors take focuses on skills like teamwork, cross-cultural communication, cultivating growth mindset, right? All the topics that we cover are important to professional success. And the mentors keep journals every week that I read. And what I see is that so many of them get so much gratification from the mentoring work. Helping others, as we know from lots of research, is good for our own mental health. And so the program has been really helpful for both the mentees and the mentors. I guess I just want to mention the one other big leadership program that we have, we call it the professionalism fellows program and it’s connected to the house system.

We just finished the first year of the program and it was a great success in ways that I hadn’t really anticipated. Because at the beginning, the fellows started out somewhat timidly, but by the end, the most striking thing I noticed was that the fellows have really developed into partners with the administration in problem solving and program development. And so there was tremendous growth in both the peer mentors and in the professionalism fellows over the time of working with them. And so I think that this is really key to maintaining their mental health as well as setting them up to be successful lawyers.

CHRIS:

Linda, as I mentioned at the top, this podcast kicks off a three-part mini series on the connection between well-being and law schools. I’m hoping that we can pivot a little bit right now and kind of talk a little bit about again, best practices and what are… I think we really would enjoy packaging this up and making sure that we can get this into the hands as to as many law school leaders as possible.

So to that end, what suggestions do you have for others who may be interested in developing similar programs? Again, it seems like you’ve been very progressive, thoughtful and intentional about what you’re trying to do with your student body. So what worked, what would you do differently, what advice would you offer others listening in?

LINDA:

Okay. Yeah, great. So I guess that there were two things that I would advise other schools. So the first one is student leadership. I’m really a huge fan of student leadership. I really believe in the peer mentorship model for all the reasons I was just describing. But you need to be prepared to provide a lot of institutional support. You can’t expect student leaders to feel confident without backing them up with training and encouragement.

I agreed to take on this work in the first place on the condition that we hire someone who would report directly to me and work on these issues full time. And I had the great fortune to be blessed with the most talented and committed person for the job and Jordana Confino has been an amazing partner to me in this work since 2019. So get students involved, give them… empower them to really do important things, but make sure that you’re backing them up, supporting them and helping them at every step of the way.

And then I guess the second thing, and this sort of goes to, we’ve made a lot of mistakes too as well as our successes, I just don’t like to talk about them as much, but I would suggest that people turn to experts if they can. We were lucky at Fordham to get some philanthropic gifts to support our diversity equity and inclusion programming. And it allowed us to hire people with experience and training doing the kind of work that we wanted to do. So I feel like once we did that, it really, really helped a lot of the programming that we have been trying to do without that support which was not going as well and was really challenging.

So now after three years, I guess I can say I have a lot of expertise in creating a peer mentorship program, but at the beginning it would have been really helpful to have worked with a consultant and I may have made fewer mistakes if I had been able to turn to more expert support. Of course, that takes money. And I hope that one of the things like this podcast will do is really convince the community that it’s worth it to invest in these kinds of programs, that they’re really meaningful for the students who benefit for them and they can really be transformational for the student experience.

And that I hope that we can really make them a fundamental part of what law school is. rather than something that’s just icing on the cake that we do if we can get some outside support for it. So that’s kind of my next challenge, is to try to really bring these kinds of programs into the core of what legal education is.

BREE:

And I’ve spent some time as a clinical professor at a law school and my experience in sort of looking around there, that who holds the most power in the law school and who in some ways are the gatekeepers are trying to put on a new program such as this, and that’s my experience was the tenured faculty, that block of individuals and the law school administration, particularly the office of the dean. How did you get those two groups on board with these initiatives?

LINDA:

Well, I was really lucky that the dean was basically on board all along. We had done a strategic plan shortly before I became associate dean and the strategic plan had some sort of general intention to improve the student experience. And so I felt like that gave me the go ahead to sort of figure out what the content of that would be. And so I’ve had tremendous support from the dean from the beginning, and he’s really done a lot of fundraising around this work, which has been tremendous.

The faculty is always more varied and you get a lot of different views on the faculty. I would say that there were a core group of faculty members who were very enthusiastic, particularly about the house system and they have worked incredibly hard from the beginning to collaborate with the administration to turn the house system idea into reality. And I think that some of it is that other faculty who maybe were a little bit more skeptical were kind of waiting and looking and seeing, but I think that now that the house system is up and running, people see how good it is for the students.

Now, there are some new people who are getting involved, which is also really gratifying. But I do think that it’s important not to pressure people into doing anything they don’t want to do. I think that as these things prove themselves to be useful and meaningful, things will be easier going forward. I think that law schools are pretty slow moving institutions in general and making big changes take time. And I don’t feel like I need to be in a huge rush because I see that this is a long-term goal that will have really long-term benefits that are worth waiting for.

CHRIS:

Linda, are you seeing anything on your commitment to well-being in terms of playing out in terms of your strategies on recruiting new students into Fordham? Because it certainly feels like again, there’s a more societal recognition of how important this is and I’m wondering whether you’re playing that into recruitment strategies in what we know is a very competitive landscape and it comes to recruiting law students into the institution.

LINDA:

Absolutely. So in our admitted student days, we always talk about our professionalism initiatives. The professionalism office gets a lot of inquiries from admitted students. So there’s no question that students are looking for these kinds of programs. I think that students are looking for law schools that understand that students have needs and are prepared to address those needs. And so I think that our students are pretty picky consumers when it comes to what the culture of the law school is and what the approach of the administration is. And I hope that we show ourselves to be the kind of welcoming, caring community that we are because we really are.

CHRIS:

Yeah, that’s great. Well, let’s spend the last couple of minutes that we have. I mean, obviously Fordham sits at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, right? And the pandemic. I’d just be curious, Linda, of what impact the pandemic had on your student body, what some of your concerns were and how you’re working in the constraints set by the pandemic to continue to support student well-being in what’s otherwise been a very uncertain time.

LINDA:

Yeah. So it has been a brutal 15 months, I admit that. And the losses that people have suffered are real and varied in our community. And I think that right now we need to focus on recovery. Things are much, much better here in New York now and it seems like things are coming back to life and we are hoping that in the fall we will be back to what we traditionally know as law school.

The pandemic was really extra hard for the kinds of things that we’ve been focused on in the professionalism program, so really hard for community building. But I think that our programs were crucial in getting everybody through the pandemic. If you rely only on organic community building, people making friends in their classes, people might not be able to do it in a pandemic. But I think a lot of our students really needed to connect with each other and with their teachers.

And so I worked with a lot of the faculty throughout the pandemic to help support them in creating welcoming and warm learning communities within their classes. So we had student faculty conversations on all sorts of current issues. We encouraged faculty to make space for more casual student interactions. So faculty did things like they held happy hours and game nights and cooked dinner together virtually with their students and I think all of these things really did make a difference.

We saw in the peer mentorship program that the mentoring groups that would meet weekly really treated it as a gem of a moment that they could get together and have some social interaction with other students when they really had so few opportunities to do that kind of thing. So I’m not going to say that it was good, it was really, really hard for everybody. And it was hard financially and there were a lot of people who got sick and who had a lot of illness in their family so it was definitely challenging.

But I do always try to look for the silver lining. And so when we’re back in the fall, the plan is that we will continue to use some of the remote tools that we learned how to use that I think that some of them can really enrich the support structure of the law school. We have to strike a balance between flexibility, convenience, and immersion and I think we’ll be calibrating that when we get back. But for our fall academic program, I scheduled some online classes in the curriculum even though mostly we’re going to be back in person. So I hope that what we’ll take from this year of disruption will be some tools that we can use to make a richer learning environment that includes everything.

BREE:

Linda, this has been fascinating and inspiring too, and we’re coming to the end of our time together. But just finally, if one of our listeners was interested in learning more about these innovative programs at Fordham, could you give them some advice on how to learn more?

LINDA:

Yeah. So we have a page on the Fordham Law School website for the office of professionalism that has lots of information on the programs that we’re doing. Even better, I love to talk about what we’re doing and so does our director of professionalism. So people should feel free to reach out to me and to her Jordana Confino. Our contact information is on the office of professionalism page. We are really hoping to help other schools replicate particularly our peer mentorship program because we believe it can be really transformational. And so next year when we sort of take this to the next level, that’s one of the things that I’m going to be focusing on, is how is it that we help other schools to incorporate some of these things that I think have made a really big difference for us.

CHRIS:

Well, yeah. What important work that you’re doing. I mean, I just love the fact that you’ve invested so much time and energy into the emotional readiness of the law school experience and I think that that’s going to obviously pay dividends for the culture that you’re building within the law school itself. But if I’m an employer and I’m thinking about what type of students I ultimately want to hire into my firm, knowing that I have a student who’s kind of emotionally ready for the practice of law seems to be a really wise investment from a hiring decision. So any final closing thoughts on that Linda or anything else that you want to raise to our listeners?

LINDA:

Just that I hope in addition to helping them work more effectively, I hope that all of this will really make our students happier lawyers. And so it’s really important that the work that lawyers do to our society, and I think it’s really important that we care for lawyers so that they can do that work and have gratifying and happy lives.

CHRIS:

All right. Professor Linda Sugin, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. And again, for our listeners, our next two podcasts will also be focused on law schools’ culture and some of the advancements going on. But again, what a great way to kick off this mini series to talk about the Fordham experience. And thank you listeners for joining and we’ll be back in a couple of weeks. Thanks.

LINDA:

Thanks you so much for having me.

CHRIS:

Thanks, Linda.

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