A weekly brief round-up of articles, conversations, hot-takes, and quips in the world of corporate and legal resilience.
1. Joe Milowic’s Story of Depression Should Spur Renewed Focus on Lawyer Well-being
With the backdrop of Joe Milowic’s story of depression and renewal, this letter to the editor by Joseph Bellacosa in the New York Law Journal calls for an end to the stigma around mental health care in the legal industry:
Ironically, the plainly growing nature of the psychological and clinical challenges impedes ready acceptance of available help among many of the people who desperately need it.-Josepsh Bellacosa
The call, however, doesn’t include the larger question of how to end the stigma. Our view here is that the path to ending the stigma is to cultivate healthy resilience practices proactively for all instead of retroactively for a professional after he/she feels “broken.”
2. Are Your Clients Impressed By What You Think They Are?
I met with a partner from a mid-sized law firm and she shared a phone call she had with a client that I believe underscores a harder-to-measure factor in the importance of lawyer well-being. The partner described getting a phone call from a client who conveyed that he had received an email from an associate at the law firm with a 2:15am time stamp. The client stated, “I think this lawyer believes I am impressed by this. I am not impressed. I am worried.”
Is it just me, or did you also just hear the record screech to a halt? The message that was being sent to the client was that the lawyers working for him either failed to properly manage their time, were being driven so hard that mistakes were going to happen, or more likely, both. When we consider lawyer well-being, we need to consider the potential damage it does to the reputation of the firm when clients see lawyers being ground down. Law firm leaders might see those sleepless nights and weekends in the office as a Badge of Honor; clients see that as potential for error, or worse, malpractice. I applaud the client for speaking truth and I doubly applaud the partner who heard him loud and clear.
3. Is Your Rainmaker A Tempest In A Teapot?
I’m going to file this one under “Things That Make You Go Hmmm.” I spent the week in Atlanta at the annual Legal Marketers Association Conference. I was blown away by the talent, creativity, and inquisitiveness of these professionals. They care deeply about the firms they represent and the profession as a whole. As I chatted with them one evening over dinner, someone lobbed this question at me, “Has anyone quantified the impact on a so-called rainmaker’s profit margin when he/she is so miserable to work with they are burning through paralegals, executive assistants, and associates like dry kindling?” No, but I sure as heck will now.
Many people who experience toxic stress engage in unhealthy self-destructive behaviors, like drinking, to self-medicate their suffering. Others, however, “off-load” their toxic stress by abusing those around them, particularly those they see as marginal. These behaviors put a firm at risk for a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and bullying behaviors. If so, a firm’s untouchable rainmaker might just be bringing in stormy weather that isn’t worth the damage.