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Resilience, positive motivation and professional identity:

Submitted by Nigel Duncan on Tue, 11-26-2019
Long title
Resilience, positive motivation and professional identity: The experience of law clinic students working with real clients
Chapter author(s)
Duncan, Nigel
Chapter author(s)' contact information
Book title
Educating for Well-being in Law: Positive Professional Identities and Practice
Book editor(s)
Strevens, Caroline and Field, Rachael
Book type
Page number
Place of publication
United Kingdom

This chapter explores the experience of students studying for the Bar in England and Wales. Students have the opportunity to elect one of three modules that require them to work with real clients and to be assessed on the quality of their professional work with those clients. Two of these options require a full representation service: FRU (Free Representation Unit) Employment and FRU Social Security. The third, Domestic Violence, requires them to undertake client conferences in order to prepare witness statements and the formal documents required to present claims in the courts with a view to obtaining orders which will protect victims from the perpetrator of violence.

These students regularly encounter clients facing great emotional challenges and this may produce emotional responses in them. In addition, those providing a full representation service may encounter professionals opposing them or judges whose behaviour is challenging. Research conducted over three years has explored these issues and the ways in which students address them. It has done so, informed by theories of emotional labour (Westaby 2014) and self-determination (Deci and Ryan, 1985, 2000). Student responses tend to confirm the observations of Hartwell (1995) that experience provides the most appropriate vector for developing effective ways of responding to these challenges. They also, however, provide reasons to be cautious of the assumption that developing resilience is an unqualified good and to consider the concept of resilience and its consequences critically.

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Lawyer Regulation