Helping Lawyers Thrive: A Pioneer in Legal Well-being Honored at World Congress

Professor Lisle Baker receives achievement award from the IPPA
Professor Lisle Baker (center) receives an achievement award from the International Positive Psychology Association. 

This summer, Suffolk University Law School Professor Lisle Baker won an achievement award from the world’s preeminent group of social scientists studying human happiness. The International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) honored Baker for, among other reasons, his path-breaking teaching of positive psychology courses for law students and for spearheading a successful attempt to persuade the American Bar Association to make law student well-being exploration a curricular standard at law schools.

The field of positive psychology studies the conditions that contribute to the optimal functioning of people, groups, and institutions. Baker received the award at the IPPA World Congress on Positive Psychology in Vancouver, Canada.

The positive psychology community: From U.N. sustainability officials to neuroscientists

The 2023 IPPA Congress speakers included members of U.N. sustainability committees, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and the Ministry of Community Development in the UAE. The IPPA World Congress brings together social and clinical psychologists, social entrepreneurs, public health scientists, and behavioral neuroscientists, among others. The thousands-strong social psychology organization is dedicated to the science of how people thrive.

At Suffolk, Baker teaches Positive Psychology for Lawyers, Character and Fitness for Professional Success, and Professional Identity Formation and Well-being, all based on his study of applied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Master’s degree in 2016 at age 74.

According to the 2023 IPPA World Congress e-book, “the IPPA Outstanding Practitioner Award is bestowed to the IPPA practitioner who has shown the most outstanding excellence and impact in advancing the practice of positive psychology in ethical and evidenced-based ways.”

Using the science of thriving to help new lawyers be their best

In his remarks in accepting the award, Professor Baker said, “How we educate new lawyers matters to all of us because attorneys are the guardians of our liberties, our livelihoods, and our environment. We need them to be at their very best when we want their help.”

Baker’s most recent article, "Louis D. Brandeis and the Formation of a Positive Professional Identity," 56 Suffolk University Law Review 275 (2023) (co-authored with Scott Campbell), assesses U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis in terms of the values, guiding principles, and well-being practices that were important to Brandeis’s positive professional identity.

In addition to his teaching, writing and speaking, Professor Baker is a member of the executive committee of the Balance and Well-being Section of the Association of American Law Schools. Baker is a city councilor for the City of Newton, Massachusetts, and serves on Newton’s Zoning and Planning Committee.