College of Law Faculty Scholarship

Source Publication (e.g., journal title)

Santa Clara Law Review

Document Type



Many law students experience a significant decline in their sense of well-being during law school, particularly during the first year. Research grounded in self-determination theory establishes that the traditional law school curriculum can undermine a student’s psychological need for a sense of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. As a result, student motivation, satisfaction, and well-being all suffer. The research, however, also suggests that an educational environment can be intentionally designed and implemented to provide support for a student’s fundamental psychological needs. Leadership and professional development courses and extra-curricular programming are uniquely positioned to provide that support. If designed and structured intentionally in light of the student need for autonomy, competence, and purpose, leadership curricula can help improve student motivation, performance, and well-being.

Included in

Law Commons