Muriel Collins (Mississippi), Time to Make it Personal: How Personality Testing in Law Schools Can Improve Lawyer Well-Being:
“Why don’t snakes bite lawyers? Professional courtesy.”
This is one of the many “jokes” that integrate the general public’s perception of lawyers as crooks, cheats, and money-hungry badgers, yet practicing lawyers and law students alike are plagued by stress, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and substance abuse. While many articles and law journals have grappled with the idea on how to improve lawyer satisfaction, there has yet to be a dramatic improvement in lawyer well-being. By incorporating personality testing in legal education, law schools can fight back against lawyer dissatisfaction by encouraging mental wellness and growth at a lawyer’s infancy. This article illustrates how personality testing in law schools can be used to improve lawyer well-being.
In the first section, I list many variations of personality testing. However, objective personality tests may be the best type indicator for law schools to use. Popular test descriptions and which of these tests are the most effective, reliable, and valid are discussed in length. Then, a discussion of personality test limitations is presented, which includes the problem with tests’ reliability and validity, test takers “faking good,” and tests leading to stereotypes.
The paper continues with a discussion on current lawyer and law student well-being statistics. An analysis of legal profession statistics regarding anxiety, stress, depression, and substance abuse are listed, including ways personality testing could help law students avoid such lawyer dissatisfaction. The conversation then opens into the utility of personality testing and the benefits one receives by gaining insight and understanding of themselves.
The main argument centers around how personality testing can be used in law schools. There are multiple areas personality testing can be implemented to improve law school curriculum, such as the need for a new curriculum that emphasizes soft skills and interpersonal communications and improves pedagogy with the use of personality tests. Personality testing will help professors understand different learning styles, personality types’ reactions to Socratic questioning, and new methods of teaching different types. Additionally, personality testing can improve career services by providing law students direction toward potential career paths. Testing may also improve student services’ student wellness strategies, mentoring relationships, and team/group pairings. The final piece of the argument discusses how personality testing could be utilized on the front end of a student’s law school experience through either interviews, admitted students’ welcome packages, or orientation.
Ultimately, the legal profession needs to stop providing lip service that there are “ways” to improve lawyer well-being and begin aiding law students at the beginning of their legal careers. This article lists a range of ways to include personality testing in law schools from legal curriculum to group exercises to extracurricular activities. Thus, law schools may implement personality testing in a myriad of ways that will benefit students educational (and ultimately legal) experience. The only way systemic lawyer dissatisfaction will continue, however, is if the legal profession continues to do nothing. It is time to make it personal.