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Australian Journal of Clinical Education

Abstract

This paper examines the interrelationship between clinical legal education and student well-being in an Australian setting. It reviews literature on the association between studying law and student psychological distress, and the role of clinical legal education in educating students about empathic lawyering. The paper reports on the findings of a small empirical study in an Australian university, which compared students’ and their supervisors’ perceptions of student well-being in the clinic context. Study findings discovered considerable variance between study participants’ perceptions of student well-being, with supervisors noting a tendency for students to be over confident, demanding, competitive and lacking in empathy. This finding does not accord with the literature which suggests students can become overly invested in and emotionally involved with their clients. The authors posit a range of reasons for this finding and present suggestions to address it.

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