Debra Austin, JD, PhD

professor of the practice of law
university of Denver Sturm College of LaW

Debra teaches Lawyering Process, Advanced Legal Research & Writing, and Professionalism and Well-being Skills for the Effective Lawyer. She received the William T. Driscoll Master Educator Award in 2001.

Debra writes and speaks about how neuroscience and psychology research can improve the well-being and performance of law students, lawyers, and other professionals. Debra's presentations connect lawyer well-being to enhanced performance and ethical obligations, and they are accredited for general and ethics CLE in multiple states.

Killing Them Softly  shines a bright light on lawyer depression, substance abuse, and suicide, and its application of neuroscience to the chronic stresses of law school and law practice depicts how law students and lawyers suffer cognitive brain damage that impairs them from doing precisely what their studies and practices require.  Drink Like a Lawyer  uses neuroscience research to demonstrate how self-medication with substances like alcohol, marijuana, and study drugs impairs law student and lawyer thinking.  Food for Thought  examines neuroscience research that explores the relationship between diet and increased risk of cognitive damage, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and describes optimal nutrition habits that build and maintain a healthy lawyer brain.  Debra is a contributing author on the 2017 ABA National Task Force Report on Lawyer Well-being – The Path to Lawyer Well-being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change.  Her article,Positive Legal Educationproposes a new field of inquiry and a new method of training lawyer leaders, and it offers research-based guidance on how law schools can address the recommendations in the ABA National Task Force on Lawyer Well-being Report.