Depression and affect among law students during law school: A longitudinal study

Alan Reifman, Daniel N. McIntosh, Phoebe C. Ellsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Law students report a variety of negative emotional states and indicate that they experience humiliation, a lack of control, and isolation during their legal training. However, it is unclear whether their distress increases after entry into law school, and how their levels of distress compare to other populations. We collected self-report data on a cohort of students at a major law school before and throughout their training to investigate changes over time in psychological distress. Compared to their responses before starting law school, the students' depression levels were elevated during their law school careers. At the end of both the first and third years of law school, approximately half the students attained symptom scores suggestive of clinical depression. Comparisons were also made between the present sample and other groups for whom aggregate data were available. The law students appeared comparably distressed to unemployed people or individuals experiencing marital separation, for example. Assessment and treatment of psychological distress in graduate and professional students are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Emotional Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Emotion
  • Law school
  • Professional training
  • Stress
  • Trauma


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