Writing a book turns out to be a larger and more collective endeavor than one suspects at the outset. I am lucky to have a large and wonderful cast of characters in the background of How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School. Their wisdom and fingerprints are all over these pages.
First, Stanford Law School is a wonderful place, and I learned a tremendous amount during my years there. I chose Stanford largely so I could keep learning from Robert Weisberg, who has been my mentor, friend, and even a sort of spiritual guide (he’ll hate that term) for nearly twenty years. My 1L summer, I had the good fortune to start working with Pamela S. Karlan, and in the years since, she has taught me more about law, life, and teaching than I would have thought possible to learn from a single person. I also had the good fortune to work closely with George Fisher, who raises teaching to an art form; Barbara Fried, who tells the truth in her life and in her fiction; Lawrence Marshall, who taught me what a difference lawyers can make in people’s lives; and Joan Petersilia, who beautifully blurs the line between policy work and academic research. On the other side of campus, my advisors and mentors in the sociology department were Shelley Correll, who guided me professionally, sharpened my sociological thinking, and generously shared her criticism, enthusiasm, and wit; Monica McDermott, who taught me how to be a researcher and showed me that I might belong in academia; and Rebecca Sandefur, who made me fall in love with the study of law and society. All three continue to influence me as a social scientist and as a teacher long after I’ve left their classrooms. Many years earlier but no less important are Alan Hawkins, Tom O’Hara, Wayne Thallander, and especially Paul Horvath. Those four helped me figure out who I wanted to be in the world.
Marc Tafolla was my partner in crime for many years, and we shared countless aspects of the law school experience. It was tremendously helpful to see law school through his eyes as well as my own, and I doubt I would have been able to write this book without him. Debbie Mukamal, who is not only a fabulous researcher and teacher, but also the executive director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, cheered me up countless times with a meal, hike, or story, and I learned a lot about law school from her. Several people from my law school class or adjacent classes became close friends and made my life immeasurably more fun and interesting. In addition to Marc, special thanks go to Adair and Bryan Boroughs, Tara Heumann, Annie Osburn, Stephanie Rudolph, Craig Se-gall, and the other public interest and/or criminal law and/or clinic comrades with whom I spent time. I am also grateful to a handful of close friends who offered moral support for my endeavors even when my own enthusiasm flagged. These include Eric Albert, Kendra Bischoff, Chris Bourg, Diane Doolan, Kat Fabel, Lauren Friedman, Sara Jordan-Bloch, Megan Knize, Sarah Kovatch, Lynne Rosen, Amanda Sharkey, Judith Wilson, and Kathy Zonana.
An enormous thanks to the more than 1,100 law students and 250 alumni who took the time to complete my extensive survey and whose results ground this book. Their insights, humor, anecdotes, and expertise underpin every word. I am particularly grateful to the students who shared their experiences through in-depth interviews about their time in law school: Taylor Altman, Hannah Brewer, Brandon Bowers, Lydia Brown, Bri’An Davis, Katie Dunning, Ryan Gramacy, Tyler Hadyniak, Cameron McGinn, Ava Morgenstern, Jared Sands, Hannah Taylor, Peder Teigen, Melissa Wasser, and Francis Yao, as well as several students who requested anonymity.
Many others offered assistance and encouragement of various kinds while I worked on this project. Thank you to Debra Lee Baldwin, David Ball, Jordan Barry, Steve Boutcher, Michelle Budig, Andrea Cann Chandrasekher, Barbara Creel, Nora Demleitner, Hillary Farber, Michael Fischl, Naomi Gerstel, Chris Golde, Michele Goodwin, Anika Green, Kjerstin Gruys, Deborah Healy, Janice Irvine, Margaret Johns, Kelly Jones, Megan Karsh, Karen Kelsky, Liana Christin Landivar, Joseph Lavoie Jr., Sandra Levitsky, Jen Lundquist, Mona Lynch, Joya Misra, Sasha Natapoff, Jennifer Nye, Kris O’Neill, Anthony Paik, Amagda Pérez, Lisa Pruitt, L. Song Richardson, Cecilia Ridgeway, Anna Roberts, Meredith Rountree, Amy Schalet, David Sklansky, Sara Smith, Laurel Smith-Doerr, Elizabeth Tallent, Melissa Wooten, Ronald Wright, and Jonathan Wynn. I am grateful as well to Maisie Young and Dexter Gaudet for keeping me good company and making sure I take plenty of writing breaks; to the late Angus Gaudet for his lovable grouchiness; and to the late Scout Young for being the steadiest, most faithful, most beloved confidante I can imagine.
Special thanks to Mary Rose, a wonderful mentor; Orin Kerr, who allowed me to reproduce his excellent sample exam Q&A in Chapter 18; Kate Bender, my co-author on Chapter 11, who taught me a great deal about law students’ mental health and without whom this book would not be nearly as useful; and the faculty and staff at Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West. I am also deeply grateful for the encouragement and camaraderie of my colleagues in the Sociology Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It is truly a special place, and I am honored to work among such fabulous, funny, supportive, intelligent scholars.
Ruth Ozeki read significant portions of this book, helped me think more effectively about mindfulness, and offered me invaluable feedback, encouragement, humor, walks, and coffee breaks. Her friendship is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. LaToya Baldwin Clark helped greatly with Chapter 7, particularly the section on race and racism, and Hollis Kulwin, Alexa Shabecoff, and Diane Perlberg helped me think more holistically about the law student experience. Diane Curtis, Scott Rogers, and an anonymous reviewer all read the entire manuscript and offered detailed, incisive comments throughout. Michelle Lipinski at Stanford University Press was tremendously encouraging about this project from the beginning and offered me advice, faith, and freedom throughout the process. I am indebted as well to Nora Spiegel, Emily Smith, Jennifer Gordon, and everyone else at SUP. To the extent that this book is useful, it is due in large part to the generosity of these kind, smart readers.
My family—particularly my parents Randy Young and Wendy Young, my late grandmother Carol Young (who made sure to ask, “Are you writing your book?” when I most needed asking), and Jon, Brittney, Morgan, and Kellan Young—have been unflaggingly encouraging. I am grateful to my parents for countless reasons, and they cultivated in me some of the ideas I try to impart here. Growing up, I never heard “That isn’t worth trying” or “No one does that.” They taught me that the most rewarding paths are the ones you forge yourself. I love and respect them both more than I can put into words.
Biggest thanks go to my wife and partner, Liz Gaudet. I deeply admire Liz’s creativity, expansive thinking, compassion, and skilled critical eye. She read every word of this book, and her editorial advice was invaluable. Her support, honesty, humor, and love are the best parts of my world, and I marvel every day at my luck that we get to build a life together.