Imagine if Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Oprah Winfrey had become lawyers. We’d be handwriting our opening statements by candlelight and packing our briefcases in saddlebags, and, perhaps, we wouldn’t know what books merited our reading time. Each of these colorful geniuses would have become grayer, duller and indistinguishable from one another. 
This is, essentially, what happens in law school. We collect some of the greatest minds in the country, strip them of their unique brand of intellect and tell them only one thing matters: thinking like a lawyer. Or maybe two things: thinking like a lawyer and finishing in the top 10% of their class. And then we wonder why law students and young lawyers as a group are depressed, disillusioned and dissatisfied. 
Studies repeatedly show that first year law students arrive with excitement, well-being and passion for a law career. According to Lawrence S. Krieger, who along with Kennon M. Sheldon, conducted the most recent study: “the overall law school experience is likely to have an undermining effect on professionalism and career/life satisfaction.” Law graduates are significantly different people from those who arrived to begin law school. “They are more depressed, less service oriented, and more inclined toward undesirable, superficial goals and values.” 
For over one hundred years, law schools have taught students “the science of law” using the “Socratic method.” Law schools have bragged about teaching students to “think like a lawyer.” I fly almost every week and I sometimes imagine how I would feel if the best that could be said about my pilot’s training is that he or she was taught to “think like a pilot.” I want my pilot to learn how to fly the plane, not just think like a pilot. The “art of being a good lawyer” is all about relationships. According to law professor Daisy Hurst Floyd, “legal education devalues relationships.” I believe most clients would prefer that law students learn how to actually be a lawyer rather than just to think like one. They probably would be even more pleased if law students were taught to also “think like a client.” 
So, many law graduates arrive at their law firms already disillusioned about their decision to become a lawyer and stressed out over their future. At many large law firms, they quickly conclude that only one thing matters: Their billable hours. They become further disillusioned when they are assigned to a team sent to a warehouse for “document review.” The good news is they get to record lots of billable hours, spending 14 hours a day in a warehouse. The bad news is they get further away from the dream they once had when they decided they wanted to be a lawyer. As one anonymous young lawyer wrote in a D Magazine article: “Associates want a sense of Purpose from the practice of law. But, you can’t find Purpose in the library or the warehouse doing document review.” 
And then we wonder why lawyers as a group are depressed, disillusioned and dissatisfied. And why the clients we represent neither like nor respect us very much. 
Law school teaches that intrinsic values, purpose and passion doesn’t matter, and many large law firms teach that having intrinsic values, purpose and passion doesn’t pay. And both teach that goals are nothing more than extrinsic numbers: test scores, billable hours, associate salaries and profits per partner. When recruiters search for new talent, they rate candidates by their pedigree: school and class rank without considering emotional intelligence, core values, individual talent or interest. 
There has to be – and, fortunately, there is a better way. We can encourage law students to follow their passions and to realize them by focusing on purpose, vision, core values, goals, plans and execution. We can teach them what it is like to be a lawyer and how to serve clients. We can teach elements of emotional intelligence. In this way we will be focusing on the whole person and better prepare law students for their future careers.