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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, December 1, 2017

Law Schools Help Students Deal With Stress Of Finals: 'Puppies With The Dean,' 'Midnight Breakfast'

YesTexas Lawyer, As Law Students Enter Finals, Schools Find Ways to Help With the Stress:

As Texas law schools enter another final exam season in December, they know that students are stressed, and they’re trying to help. On the lighter side, they distract students with fun events—puppies on campus—or relax them with neck massages. On a serious note, schools present students with information about appropriate and inappropriate ways to cope with stress, and they provide free counseling services. ...

Law school is always stressful, but during finals, it’s like a cardiologist putting a patient on a treadmill for a stress test. Any weaknesses come out, said Bree Buchanan, director of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program, which helps law ­students, lawyers and judges with mental health and substance use struggles. “The level of anxiety and fear it induces can be extreme. In a lot of ways, the law students can be their own worst enemies,” Buchanan said. ...

One tactic that Texas law schools use to help stressed-out students is to offer fun distractions for study breaks.

Baylor hosts “Midnight Breakfast” events just before exam periods, and Texas Tech has a breakfast-for-dinner night when professors serve pancakes to their students. The events are a moment of levity during a stressful period that builds a sense of community.

St. Mary’s has held a “puppies with the dean” event with real fur babies. Texas Tech, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas and the University of Texas School of Law in Austin bring therapy dogs on campus, offer massages and provide snacks for study breaks.

On the more serious side, multiple Texas law schools include a segment during orientation focused on healthy ways for students to cope with stress.

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Villanova faculty and staff has been hosting midnight breakfast (originally at midnight but now in the morning or afternoon, depending) for many years. E.g.,

Posted by: James Edward Maule | Dec 1, 2017 6:46:24 AM

OK - I enlisted at 17 and went to Vietnam so I do not count.

How do you reach 22 and find law school finals the most stressful time of your life? Charmed life? Helicopter parents? At what point can you handle stress without puppies on campus or a campus counselor? How do you practice law without a therapist on speed-dial?

I suppose I should be thankful that my free-range kids will be competing against these.

Posted by: aircav65 | Dec 1, 2017 6:47:50 AM

Puppies with the Dean? We're any creatures harmed during this event?

Posted by: Enrique | Dec 1, 2017 7:34:00 PM


Certainly the stress of rigors are trivial next to being in war. Hopefully no one in the academy is tone-deaf enough to suggest otherwise. But I imagine the stress comes from the knowledge that, unless they are at one of the top six or ten law schools, a single bad grade is enough to utterly torpedo their chances at halfway remunerative employment after graduation, and will be exiled into the world partial financial hardships, increasingly threatened income-based repayment plans, and generally speaking an adult life with no hope or chance at socioeconomic mobility or middle-class comfort. Not to mention the deleterious consequences to wealth-building via home equity, 401ks, etc. that law school loan payments negate. A recent study found that holding just $30k in student debt translates to ~$325k in lost 401k wealth by retirement, so just imagine what holding $150k or $200k in law school loans means...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Dec 2, 2017 11:02:09 PM