Cover of How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School by Kathryne M. Young
How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School
Kathryne M. Young


312 pages.

Paperback ISBN: 9780804799768
Ebook ISBN: 9781503605688

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Each year, over 40,000 new students enter America's law schools. Each new crop experiences startlingly high rates of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and dissatisfaction. Kathryne M. Young was one of those disgruntled law students. After finishing law school (and a PhD), she set out to learn more about the law school experience and how to improve it for future students. Young conducted one of the most ambitious studies of law students ever undertaken, charting the experiences of over 1000 law students from over 100 different law schools, along with hundreds of alumni, dropouts, law professors, and more.

How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School is smart, compelling, and highly readable. Combining her own observations and experiences with the results of her study and the latest sociological research on law schools, Young offers a very different take from previous books about law school survival. Instead of assuming her readers should all aspire to law-review-and-big-firm notions of success, Young teaches students how to approach law school on their own terms: how to tune out the drumbeat of oppressive expectations and conventional wisdom to create a new breed of law school experience altogether.

Young provides readers with practical tools for finding focus, happiness, and a sense of purpose while facing the seemingly endless onslaught of problems law school presents daily. This book is an indispensable companion for today's law students, prospective law students, and anyone who cares about making law students' lives better. Bursting with warmth, realism, and a touch of firebrand wit, How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School equips law students with much-needed wisdom for thriving during those three crucial years.

About the author

Kathryne M. Young is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she teaches courses on social psychology, criminal procedure, and sociology of law. Young holds a JD from Stanford Law School, a PhD from Stanford University, and an MFA from Oregon State University. She and her wife live in Northampton, MA.

"Where was Kathryne Young when I was trying to decide whether to go to law school? When I was trying to decide whether to drop out? When I was outlining torts, sobbing, in the library? And when I was freaking out about jobs? Never mind. She's here now. I'm so glad that generations of law students, lawyers, and legal academics, and the folks who love them will have her patient, generous, and deeply wise voice in their heads as they launch into a life in the law. Or decide not to, which is also allowed. A big-hearted look at what can be a cold-hearted time. A must-read for the young lawyers in your orbit."

—Dahlia Lithwick, Slate

"Calm, wise, funny, compassionate, creative, students??? Okay, so perhaps these aren't the first words that most lawyers would use to describe themselves at law school, but this eloquent and absorbing book puts such virtues within reach, even for the most harried lawyer-to-be. I'm using it as a guide to a sort-of-happier life, myself, and I'm not even a law student!"

—Ruth Ozeki, bestselling author of A Tale for the Time Being

"How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School is a remarkably wise book. A lawyer-turned-sociologist, Katie Young combines a critical perspective on the law school experience with concrete steps law students can take to survive, and even thrive. Her readers will come away from the book reassured that they are not alone, and inspired to tackle the challenges in front of them with courage, common sense, and even a good laugh every now and then."

—Pamela S. Karlan, Stanford Law School

"As the saying goes, happiness is a function of expectations. If that's the case, How To Be Sort of Happy in Law School is an important correction to many harmful myths concerning law school success, opening up new ways for students to think about their legal educations and careers. With wit that is only outdone by its wisdom, this book should be included in every law student's admission packet for years to come."

—Osagie K. Obasogie, University of California, Berkeley, Joint Medical Program and School of Public Health

"This is the ONE book you should read before starting law school—and then re-read every semester. Make sure your parents and your significant other read it, too. Be prepared to laugh, and perhaps to cry. Kathryne Young has seen and done, or at least heard, it all. Learn to love law school and life from her."

—Nora Demleitner, Washington & Lee University

"How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School comes at a most important time in legal education and will be of immeasurable benefit to law students. Kathryne Young's insights—many borne out of her own experience, alongside the experience of many attorneys—offer an honest and rare glimpse into the challenges of law school. Young provides readers with a useful and hopeful path to more fully experience the excitement and realize the opportunities found in law school and the practice of law."

—Scott L. Rogers, University of Miami

"Young's book is a great resource for law students that I plan on recommending to current or potential law students. I also found the book to contain some excellent practical advice that can help us be happier judges, lawyers, and law professors."

—Tessa L. Dysart, Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors

"[Young's] fundamentally humanistic view should also inspire law teachers to make student empowerment and personal development to a central aspect of their work."

—Bernhard Bergmans, Yearbook of Legal Education 2018/19

"Young does an excellent job preparing the reader to navigate the unique emotional challenges law school presents. The coverage of this topic is unmatched in any other law school advice book."

—Paul Caron, TaxProf Blog