Measuring empathy in undergraduate law students: examining the factorial validity of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy - Law Students (JSE-LS)

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Several scholars have hypothesised a link between empathy and a range of important outcomes for law students including well-being, mental health and the development of effective client-lawyer relationships. However, few studies have examined these claims empirically. Empirical investigation of empathy among law students requires effective methods of measuring empathy. The present study sought to examine an instrument designed specifically to measure empathy among law students – the Jefferson Empathy Scale - Law Students (JSE-LS). The study involved examining the internal consistency and factor structure of the instrument using a sample of 276 Australian undergraduate law students. The study found that a four-factor solution was optimal for the dataset. Two of the factors were readily interpretable with previous literature, however the remaining two factors were unstable, suggesting the need for further revision of the instrument. Recommendations for revising the JSE-LS to better measure empathy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Empathy
  • Legal education
  • Legal training
  • Mental health
  • psychometrics
  • Student wellbeing

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