We need new rituals.

Design Your Delta No. 6

Our message in this post is simple and direct: we need new rituals to guide our students through the liminality of law school and into the legal profession. We need new rituals to guide practicing lawyers through the Liminal Age of Legal and into what comes next.

We believe the Delta Model offers the framework for creating new rituals around intention, self-awareness, holistic planning, and so much more. All of which will support thriving and success in law school. And thriving and success in practice. 

And, to be clear, this is not a performative exercise to promote an agenda that we should all just “feel good” — though we do believe we should all feel good about our choices because we’ve made them with intention and they are informed choices. 

We know from data that people are more likely to thrive1 when certain conditions are met2 that lead to high levels of engagement. That we know this, and choose not to redesign our woefully outdated and often quite negative rituals to create such conditions? An indefensible position. Especially in light of data we have showing how so many of our current rituals — in legal education and practice — likely inhibit rather than support thriving.3

We also know from data that when conditions for thriving are met, performance is improved. Imagine! More thriving and better performance, which leads to better work — for those doing the work, and those served by the work. It’s a win-win that all stakeholders in the legal ecosystem need.

A ritual for law students

We envision that creating an individual Delta Model becomes a powerful ritual for law students — an exercise to help them orient the skills, experience, and knowledge they bring into law school, and intentionally plan how they will proceed through 3 years of legal education. As a student’s Delta Model evolves, based on ever-increasing experience with and in the law, it offers a compass for navigating through the liminality of law school.

Further, the Delta Model exercise brings clarity, transparency, and understanding to what is often an unnecessarily murky aspect of liminality in legal education: navigating the law school curriculum. And does so in a way that connects curricular choices to professional choices, intentionally and meaningfully.

And, if we can connect the Delta Model to the skills and competencies that legal employers seek from new lawyers, this provides further transparency and clarity in the liminality, as law students transition from the role of student to the role of lawyer.

A ritual for practicing lawyers

We believe the Delta Model serves a similar function for practicing lawyers currently navigating the Liminal Age of Legal, by transparently and holistically revealing the full range of upskilling opportunities that will empower lawyers to meet the many challenges presented in this Fourth Industrial Revolution

We must find ways to innovate our Second Industrial Revolution legal systems and structures because they are simply incompatible with the present times. And, we’re more likely to innovate when we thrive.

“Thriving at work not only enables employees to get their job done well but also increases their capacity to display innovative work behaviors – bringing new ideas to the table, gaining buy-in for these ideas, and creating momentum for implementation.”

Trust, Connectivity, and Thriving: Implications for Innovative Behaviors at Work

In coming posts, we’re going to dive into the liminal experience of law students and lawyers by talking with them and sharing these conversations with you. 

From this, we will co-design new rituals using the Delta Model. Rituals we all can use, no matter what role we play in the legal ecosystem, to navigate the liminality. And thrive, both as individual humans and as organizations and institutions.  

-Alyson and Cat

May 3, 2021

1

 “Spreitzer et al. (2005) advanced a two‐dimensional conceptualization of thriving, composed of the following: (i) a feeling of vitality and (ii) a sense that one is learning or getting better. Vitality represents a sense that one is energized (Nix, Ryan, Manly, & Deci, 1999) and has a zest for work (Miller & Stiver, 1997). The learning dimension signifies the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills to build capability and confidence (Carver, 1998). Together, the two dimensions capture both the affective (vitality) and cognitive (learning) essence of the psychological experience of personal growth.” See Thriving at work: Toward its measurement, construct validation, and theoretical refinement.

2

For example: “Recent research suggests that organizations can facilitate thriving through decision‐making discretion, broad information sharing, feedback and a climate of civility (Porath et al., 2008).” Id.

3

For example, data on law student mental health (here) and lawyer mental health (here).