Close up image of black and white letters spelling out Mental Health Matters.

Mental Health Services for Law Students

Published August 18, 2021

Photo of Lindsay Gladney.

Lindsay Gladney is the Vice Dean for Admissions at the University at Buffalo School of Law.

Law school will be one of the most rewarding experiences in your educational journey and is the stepping stone to a meaningful career. But even at the best of times, law school can be demanding and stressful. When you add in unplanned personal events, family issues, and a global pandemic, law school can be an emotional roller coaster.

Maintaining a positive outlook and caring for yourself personally is an extremely important part of coping with the rigors of law school both academically and socially. In this post, we’re touching on some of the mental health services available for UB law students and offering tips for staying focused during such a busy and demanding time in your life.

The Wellness and Equity Task Force was implemented five years ago by Bernadette Gargano, Vice Dean for Student Affairs, and S. Todd Brown, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs. “We gather each month—and as needed—to discuss issues of school-wide importance as well as confidential matters to help individual students in need,” said Dean Gargano.

Three years ago, with Dean Aviva Abramovsky’s support, the Office of Student Affairs coordinated with the UB Counseling Center to bring in Thomas J. Neill, an experienced counselor who would dedicate his time to law students several days a week. Mr. Neill has an office in the law library and maintains regular evening hours to accommodate student course schedules.

The Task Force also worked with various School of Law departments to create a specialized Emergency Assistance Fund for law students. “We hope to grow the fund further,” said Dean Gargano, “but we’ve already seen generous donations from administrators, faculty, staff, alumni and students to provide support to students in need.”

Finally, with the help of Amy Atkinson, Director of Student Life, the Task Force initiated a Peer-to-Peer Advocate Program, pairing 2L and 3L students with incoming 1Ls to provide a welcoming and supportive community.

Current initiatives involve working the new Student Wellness Society, founded and driven by law students, and the Erie County Bar Foundation to continue to improve holistic support for students. 

The Student Wellness Society is a newly approved student organization composed of law students who are passionate about mental health advocacy. Run by Co-Presidents Michelle Cheaib ’22 and Cristian Cruzado ‘22, the Society addresses issues students face during their years in law school. They plan to hold events to help students de-stress, provide information on what the school has to offer regarding mental health, and to bring awareness to and destigmatize the fact that students are faced with mental health issues. Co-President Michelle Cheaib ’22 has also been working diligently on creating a private forum for students to use and engage in collaborative discussion about various topics including mental health, school, and private issues that students may not otherwise wish to discuss publicly.

How can students get involved?

The Student Wellness Society is primarily looking for first-year law students to act as student representatives. These roles will be elected by their student colleagues, so prospects will have to individually campaign and provide relevant event ideas on behalf of their student body. “The hope is to have one representative per class to keep things fresh and current with respect to the mental health support being sought by each class,” says Cruzado.

And while there are currently no open spots remaining on the e-board for 2L and 3Ls, they are still looking for student representatives for those classes. Anyone interested can get in touch with Michelle or Cristian for further details.

Advice for Keeping a Positive Mental State

Life as a law student is exhilarating, rewarding and at times it can be downright exhausting! Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to both putting out your best work and keeping a clear and healthy mind. We asked Michelle and Cristian to provide tips and advice on work-life balance and ways to avoid burnout.

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Maintaining work-life balance

Michelle: During my first week of law school, a 2L told me to try and complete my work for the upcoming week all on the weekend, so I could do more personal things during the week like rest, review or see family and friends. When I finally took that advice during my 2L year, it changed the whole game. I was never scrambling to catch up on work the hour before class or worrying if I forgot to complete an assignment. It was really relieving at moments and made me feel way less stressed on a day-to-day basis.

Cristian: My biggest advice to students to help balance their work is to use study supplements. The School provides WestAcademic, which is basically podcasts explaining every doctrinal subject. This was exceptionally helpful during 1L year and for evidence. Similarly, Barbri offers video lectures called “1L Mastery.” If you sign up early in the semester you can usually get them for free. In terms of mental health, my biggest advice is not to be afraid to get help. I’m currently writing a paper for work on this subject and read some studies showing that the prevalence of mental health issues for law students could be as high as 1 in 2. Half of those living with mental illness are not getting help for it. You are not alone and there are plenty of people who want to help, but that starts with you taking the initiative.

Coping with Burnout

Michelle: My biggest contributor to burnout as a law student was my inability to accept inactivity. I felt that if I wasn’t studying 24/7 or doing something related to school that I was failing my future. Realistically, I realized that people like myself, who study every hour of every day and put in so much extra effort can still lose out. The phrase “work smarter, not harder” really applies to law school. If you spend all your time studying, you’ll never get to experience things you personally enjoy, and let me tell you, it’s just not worth it. Relax and enjoy the things in life most important to you. You don’t always need to achieve something beyond reach. Sustaining what you can do and trying your best is more important sometimes than hitting the highest echelon in law school; it can feel like a never-ending fight to what you see as the “top.”

Cristian: Personally, when I felt burned out it was because I sacrificed the things I enjoyed doing most (working out, meditating, playing video games) for school work. Law school feels like this endless grind where, no matter how much work you do, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing enough. You have to avoid letting that feeling overwhelm you and make time for yourself. Basically, don’t let school completely consume your life and keep doing the things you enjoy!

Always remember: you’re not in this alone! Whether you need to chat with a professional, or you just need some likeminded students to unwind with, UB and the School of Law has the means to help you stay on track and be the best student you can be. Be sure to reach out when you need help and never forget to reward yourself for the hard work you do every week.

Additional Resources

Photo of Lindsay Gladney.

Lindsay Gladney is the Vice Dean for Admissions at the University at Buffalo School of Law.


Office of Admissions
University at Buffalo School of Law
408 O'Brian Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260

Request an appointment:

Learn more about the law school admissions process and School of Law community through an individual meeting with one of our staff members.

[Learn More]

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