Professor Huang’s Workshop Targets Stress, Anxiety in Legal Field

Published: June 5, 2017

Professor Huang (far right) and conference attendeesLaw professors and scholars gathered on June 1 and 2, 2017, at the University of Colorado Law School to examine how law students and lawyers can use creative techniques to manage high levels of anxiety and stress. Professor Peter H. Huang and University of Denver College of Law Professor Debra Austin co-organized the conference, titled “Positive Lawyering, Mindfulness, and Humane Games.”

Colorado Law’s Boulder Summer Conference Series brings top scholars from around the nation to Boulder for focused and thoughtful discussion of legal issues in particular fields and their implications for society more broadly. Inspired by Huang’s own research, the Positive Lawyering, Mindfulness, and Humane Games workshop analyzed the role of mindfulness, positive psychology, and humane games in addressing the troubling and pervasive phenomenon of the overworked, unhappy lawyer.

Huang, who holds the DeMuth Chair in Business Law, has a JD from Stanford University and a PhD in applied mathematics from Harvard University. He is well known not only for his substantial track record of publications in business and securities law but also for his current work in law and neuroscience, psychology, and well-being.

Huang said the conference was important because of empirical research that shows law students and lawyers experience high levels of anxiety, stress, depression, burnout, alcoholism, suicide, divorce, and substance abuse.

“This conference focused on how law students, lawyers, and law professors can apply insights from research about positive psychology interventions, mindfulness, and humane games to cope with, manage, and cognitively reframe the negative well-being and suffering that is unfortunately prevalent in today’s legal practice,” Huang said.

“I am optimistic the conference will produce actionable strategies to help law students become more professional, ethical, and happier lawyers with sustainable careers infused with meaning and career satisfaction." Professor Peter Huang

The conference featured, among others, Professors Scott T. Leutenegger and Rafael Fajardo, who introduced the phrase “humane games” to encompass games for education, games for health, and games for change. Andrew Hafenbrack from the Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics presented on “Mindfulness Meditation as Workplace Intervention.” Other presentation topics included “Gaining Self-Awareness through Journaling” and “The Introverted Lawyer.” Speakers from CU’s psychology and marketing departments, as well as those from other law schools and universities, shared a rich set of perspectives.

Huang said he wanted participants to reap the benefits of a multi-disciplinary set of perspectives, including “diverse conversations, novel insights, and creative synergy.” He said he also hoped that participants could foster relationships that might bloom into co-authorships and further collaboration.

“I am optimistic the conference will produce actionable strategies to help law students become more professional, ethical, and happier lawyers with sustainable careers infused with meaning and career satisfaction,” Huang said.

Huang has published dozens of articles and other works, which include:

Conference presenters included:

  • Peter H. Huang, University of Colorado Law School
  • Debra Austin, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • Heidi Brown, Brooklyn Law School
  • Rafael Fajardo, University of Denver Emergent Digital Practices
  • Phil Fernbach, University of Colorado Leeds School of Business Marketing Department
  • Emily Grant, Washburn University School of Law
  • Andrew Hafenbrack, Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Organizational Behavior
  • Randall Kiser, DecisionSet
  • Martha Knudson, Aspire
  • Scott T. Leutenegger, University of Denver School of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Nathalie Martin, University of New Mexico School of Law
  • Carter McKell, University of Colorado Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Sarah Myers, Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program
  • Todd Peterson, George Washington University Law School

Pictured: Professor Huang (far right) with conference participants and presenters.