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May Advocate 2017

408 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 3 M A Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE In 2015 fifty-six per cent of law school respondents to the Academic Experience Survey conducted each year by UBC Vancouver’s Alma Mater Society indicated that they had experienced stress or anxiety “that jeopardized the successful completion” of course- or degree-related work. This response is consistent across other data points. In the 2016 Law School Survey of Student Experience (“LSSSE”), fifty-one per cent of Allard Law students said that stress significantly impacted their law school performance. In the 2015 LSSSE, seventy-four per cent of Allard Law respondents rated their level of law school–related stress or anxiety as five, six or seven on a seven-point scale, whereas only twenty-six per cent indicated that the law school emphasized “ways to effectively manage stress and anxiety” “quite a bit” or “very much”. Clearly, there is more that can be done to help build resilience as part of legal education. The Allard School of Law has begun working over the past year with UBC’s wellness strategic support team and the ALSS to conduct consultations with various members of the community, which will be developed into concrete action plans. One step that has already taken place is the introduction of a Director of Wellness within the ALSS. “Law students face a unique array of stressors that affect mental health and well-being,” says Elise Kohno, the first and current ALSS Director of Wellness. “Our students are often not well informed about the resources available to support them in dealing with such stressors. It is always a challenge to balance staying healthy through, for example, proper eating, exercise, sleep and social activities with the challenging course load. I am extremely appreciative of the support given to wellness initiatives by the dean and the faculty at Allard.” Wellness is also figuring in the law school’s Re-Orientation Day programming. Held this January for the second time, this now-annual event is offered to all first-year J.D. students, with the aim of “further engaging students on matters of equality, diversity and wellness,” says Kaila Mikkelsen, Allard Law’s Assistant Dean of Students. “Now that students have had a few months of law school and are more comfortable with their classmates, professors and materials, we would like to challenge their thinking and reflection on a deeper level.” Featuring a series of “equity vignettes” with facilitated discussion by faculty members and a mock First Nations Sentencing Court, this year’s Re- Orientation Day also included a lecture on “Positive Mindset for Success” by lawyer-coach Allison Wolf. Creating the space to discuss questions of equity and diversity respectfully, as well as to build greater competency regarding Indigenous cultures, is also an important dimension of well-being. The law school experience is different for individuals of different socio-economic


May Advocate 2017
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