Charles (J.D. ’18) Leads National Mindfulness Society’s Student Division

Austin Charles (J.D. '18) teaching a yoga class

Austin Charles (J.D. ’18) (center) leads the weekly yoga class for students, faculty and staff. The class is part of Georgia State Law’s mindfulness program.

Austin Charles (J.D. ’18), with the help of his faculty advisor Charity Scott, the Catherine C. Henson Professor of Law, is the chair of the Mindfulness in Law Society student division and has taken the lead for developing mindfulness resources and networking among law students who desire to establish mindfulness programs at their law schools.

Charity Scott

Charity Scott, Catherine Henson Professor of Law and founding director of the Center for Law, Health & Society

“Austin has put in an enormous amount of time and effort to launch the MILS student division,” Scott said. “He has established both an online databank of mindfulness resources and numerous personal connections with law students across the country to build mindfulness programs in law schools. He’s being looked to by law schools across the country to help with setting up these programs.”

The Mindfulness in Law Society (MILS) is a national organization designed to serve students, lawyers, law faculty members and judges. It aims to improve the mental well-being of legal professionals across the nation through mindfulness practices.

“At first, we thought it could be a good idea to find out what other schools were doing and learn from their programs,” Charles said. “As it turned out, we discovered that our program was one of the more active ones, so we decided to start connecting and networking these student groups so that we could help support one another and exchange ideas.”

Whether it’s assembling bylaws for new student organizations, directing prospective schools toward the MILS website for in-depth information, or giving advice on how to informally garner faculty and administrative support, Charles is connecting law students interested in developing their mindful practice and student organizations to these valuable resources.

A number of law schools have already signed up to join the MILS student division. Charles has benefitted from the experience of robust programs established at Miami Law and Missouri Law. The parent MILS organization is the brainchild of Missouri Law Professor Richard Reuben (J.D. ’85). Scott Rogers, lecturer in law and director of the Mindfulness in Law Program at University of Miami School of Law has published in the mindfulness field and spoke at Georgia State Law last year.

When Charles is not consulting with other law students about their interest levels and assessing their needs to build or build upon a program, he’s traveling to other schools or presenting at national conferences.

“A lot of what we’ve been working on are the relationships,” Charles said. “I went up to Columbia Law this fall and taught a mindfulness workshop for their students, and in turn, we’re having the student director of its program come instruct at one of our retreats.”

“I have been pleased that our faculty have reacted positively to establishing the mindfulness program for students at the College of Law,” Scott said. “The program benefits greatly from Dean [Steven J.] Kaminshine’s initial and enthusiastic support. He’s to be credited with taking the first step and allowing us to develop it.”

“From my personal experience talking to my professors about our student organization, the national society, and our yoga program, they’re happy we’re doing this,” Charles said. “Giving students the opportunity for more stress reduction is something that they get behind.”

While the College of Law has supported its mindfulness program, students elsewhere may face challenges from their faculty or administration.

“Faculty at other schools might say ‘this doesn’t have anything to do with academics, the students need to toughen up, this is going to slow students down’,” Scott said. “Mindfulness programs are relatively new in legal education. Some might not understand what the programs offer or be hesitant to embrace them until after they have learned more or seen the benefits of established programs.”
And that’s where Charles can help students at other law schools, as chair of the national MILS student division.

“The network of law schools we are creating is a tremendous resource for law students who are interested in creating mindfulness programs,” Charles said. “We all benefit from the experiences of each other.”

Learn more about the MILS student division>>