Student Wellbeing Policy

The wellbeing of our law students is of paramount importance to Duquesne University School of Law. We encourage and support student wellbeing for the mind, body and spirit.

At Duquesne University School of Law, we are concerned about law students' personal wellbeing as well as their academic achievement. Law students are encouraged to develop healthy habits that will sustain them through the demands of law school and their legal careers. One of the keys to success in law school involves managing the volume of work and the stress associated with the workload. To manage stress students need to stay healthy by doing the following:

  • Making healthy food choices
  • Exercising regularly
  • Treating illness as it crops up
  • Handling an emergency or injury right away
  • Seeking help whenever necessary

In particular, the faculty and administration of the School of Law recognizes that the stresses of law school may lead to drug and alcohol abuse and dependency and mental health issues. Early intervention is the key to avoiding or addressing such problems. Accordingly, any student struggling with any such issues is strongly encouraged to immediately seek help from one of the resources listed below.

Policy Implementation

The School of Law has established a Wellness Committee, which will work to implement the above Student Wellbeing Policy by creating toolkits for achieving wellbeing and by working with the School of Law and University administrations to ensure that students have a safe, clean working environment and affordable healthy food choices. In addition, they will schedule regular programming to advance student wellbeing.

From The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania February 2022 newsletter:   

Psychology Professor Recommends: Cultivate Optimism

A psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and former president of the American Psychological Association has some free advice for lawyers to combat depression and get better results: cultivate optimism.

Professor Martin Seligman, giving the keynote speech at the inaugural virtual conference of the Institute for Well-Being in Law, noted that lawyers are trained to anticipate unexpected adverse developments and worst-case scenarios. However, this job skill sometimes develops into a general pessimism, which can carry over into the lawyer's personal life, causing problems such as high rates of depression, burnout, alcoholism, and divorce.

Seligman defined optimism as the belief that one can make a positive difference in the world now and well into the future. He argued that lawyers often need to make a deliberate effort to move past their natural tendency to pessimism and cultivate an attitude of optimism. "Optimism is what causes perseverance," Seligman said. "When you are optimistic, you keep going in the face of obstacles."
Seligman states that optimism is an important safeguard against depression, as optimistic people think of the bad events as temporary rather than permanent, and believe they can do something about bad events, as opposed to believing they're helpless.

Seligman identifies five pillars to his theory of optimism, which he memorializes as PERMA -- Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.

"Meaning," as Seligman uses the term, is a sense that a person is a part of something larger, and that her or his actions contribute to a greater cause. "Being attached to law and the rule of law is to be attached to something much larger than the individual, something right at the heart of human progress," he said. "The profession of law happens to be just about as meaningful a profession as exists."