Editor's Letter

May 2019 issue front cover image

One of the first articles I wrote as a junior reporter explored the impact stress and anxiety has on young solicitors and what UK law firms were doing to better protect the mental health of their fee earners. It’s an issue dear to me and in the years since I have returned often to the topic – it even featured in the inaugural issue of this magazine (November 2018, ‘Lawyers, it’s #TimeToTalk about your mental health’) – as year on year talented lawyers contemplate walking away from the profession due to poor wellbeing.

Some of the stigma attached to mental health issues has diminished of late thanks, in part, to the many celebrities and public figures – author J.K. Rowling (depression), actor Ryan Reynolds (anxiety), and Prince Harry (panic attacks), to name but a few – who have opened up about their own demons. By contrast, few high-profile lawyers have spoken publicly about their own battles with mental ill health.

The recently sadly departed Paul Rawlinson is one lawyer who helped bring mental health out of the shadows when, in October 2018, the global chair of Baker McKenzie stepped down from his post citing ‘medical issues caused by exhaustion’. If someone as talented, respected, and likeable as Rawlinson could suffer from the stresses and strains of law, then surely anyone can. So, in recognition of Mental Heath Awareness Week (13-19 May 2019), this month’s big issue focuses on lawyer wellbeing.

We begin with Krista Logelin explaining how Morgan Lewis’ new ML Well initiative aims to help its lawyers and support staff cope with the pressures of everyday legal practice; Young Bar Committee chair Athena Markides reports on the pressures of the junior Bar and how chambers can help; while Dr Bob Murray looks at the kinds of stress-related illnesses that commonly affect lawyers. Also weighing in, I look at the latest statistics on lawyers’ poor health.

Among our usual features, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner co-chair Lisa Mayhew talks to Georgina about last year’s big merger and the firm’s next phase of growth, and the leaders of Davis & Gilbert, Dentons Paris, Hengeler Mueller, HFW Australia, and Baker McKenzie Hong Kong explain the challenges and opportunities facing their firms across the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

The issue also features articles on the importance of incorporating human rights considerations into your legal advice; how junior US patent practitioners can get ahead; and Deutschland editor Anna Bauböck takes a look at how firms in Germany are getting to grips with legal tech.

There is all that and much, much more in the May issue of fivehundred. So until next time – and in the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Week – take care.

The business of patents

Dr Dana Ferchland talks to Louis W. Beardell, Jr, Dion Bregman, and Eric Kraeutler about Morgan Lewis Bockius’ growing patent practice, recent market trends, and the rise of ‘big data’ to drive patenting strategies and transactions

Your patent practice has grown significantly over the past few years, especially in 2018. How has this bolstered patent practice added to the firm’s existing strengths?  Louis W. Beardell, Jr., deputy practice leader: Recent additions to Morgan Lewis’s patent practice in Chicago, Orange County, San Francisco, and Washington, DC have boosted our ability to offer …

Accessing justice in a time of austerity

Pro bono

London Legal Walk

Every year, members of The Legal 500 join with thousands of legal professionals pounding the streets of London and the South East of England to raise money for pro bono advice centres. Sarita Guatama and Rosa Coleman of the London Legal Support Trust explain why these funds are so crucial to advice centres and the clients they help.

Access to justice is a basic principle of the rule of law; it is a right, not a privilege. However, the effects of legal aid cuts combined with local authority cuts have had a significant effect on the availability and accessibility of free legal advice, meaning that the most vulnerable people cannot access the help …

Embracing technology in legal marketing


illustration of woman working at desk

Technology won’t change the face of law overnight but firms should be prepared to innovate, says Sean Graham, Seddons’ head of marketing and business development

With a younger roster of legal professionals clawing their way up the ranks, we are seeing a workforce which understands the importance of technology, realises the benefits of using it, and adapts to and utilises new tech quicker than before. This also means that they expect much more from their marketing teams. Technology is expanding …

How ‘well’ are you? Conceptualising a wellbeing programme

The big issue

illustration of mental health colour

Big Law does not have a great reputation for promoting good mental health, but Morgan Lewis’ management is looking to change that, writes Krista Logelin

Your wellbeing is not fixed. The extent to which you are thriving is something each of us has the ability to influence, which is why I’ve chosen to focus my career on enabling individuals and organisations to flourish. In my position as director of employee wellbeing, I am tasked with designing and implementing a custom …

The present business of law and mental health

The big issue

mental health illustration

Poor mental health won’t be solved until we marry the business of law with human design-specs, argues Dr Bob Murray

‘Ted’ was not old, maybe in his mid-60s. He was the managing partner of his mid-sized law firm in regional England. His colleagues told me that he seemed always bright and cheerful. Last month he committed suicide. About one in three lawyers of all stripes ideate suicide once a year. Criminal lawyers and barristers come …

Don’t trade your mental health for success

The big issue


Young Barristers’ Committee chair Athena Markides highlights the impact of judicial bullying, harassment, and poor wellbeing on the junior Bar

As chair of the Young Barristers’ Committee (YBC), one of my first tasks is to set the committee’s priorities for the year. Along with business as usual (e.g. Brexit and court reform), the YBC needs to identify key issues facing barristers in their first seven years of practice, and then to try and address those …

Clerks or business leaders? Modern-day thinking and business development

The Bar

Sam Carter

Running chambers as a commercial enterprise requires sophisticated, professional, and entrepreneurial clerks, writes Sam Carter, senior clerk at Coram Chambers

There has been many an article written in recent years about the constant changes at the Bar and how chambers should adapt. As a service industry, being cost effective, offering and maintaining a high standard of excellence should be the focal point of any set’s strategy while also remaining ahead of the game. A growing …

The problem with pupillage

The Bar

Ed vickers

For the Bar to cast off its image of privilege, it must talk about how it selects barristers of the future, argues Ed Vickers QC of Red Lion Chambers.

The legal profession has an image problem. For many students thinking of a career in the law, the Bar in particular is seen as overwhelmingly white, male and privately educated; the language of the law is old fashioned and resonates a world of privilege; and this image is compounded by photos of judges in full …

The benefits of being ‘other’

Interview with: Ron Urbach

Ron Urbach

Davis & Gilbert’s chairman on why the New York firm is the antithesis of Big Law and the importance he places on offering clients value-added service

How would you define your firm’s culture? How important is firm culture to you? Our culture is a reflection of our firm’s history and core values, grounded on the concepts of family – care, respect, understanding, integrity and service; history – learning from and respectful of the past; entrepreneurial spirit and business focus; and always …