Editor's Letter

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.

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 …

Your lawyers are only human

Editors' views

illustration of wind up businessman

If they are to retain their best talent, law firms must remember their duty of care, writes John van der Luit-Drummond

A few weeks ago, I met up with an old friend from law school. It had been a couple of months since last we met, but the change in them was striking and somewhat frightening. Dark circles around bloodshot eyes contrasted against drawn, ashen skin. Their now furrowed brow was topped by unwashed hair, while …

Polycentricity sets us apart

Interview with: Séverine Hotellier

Severine Hotellier

What works in New York does not necessarily work in Baku, and we understand that, explains Dentons’ Paris managing partner

How would you define your firm’s culture? Dentons is a challenger brand and we are trying to build the law firm of the future together, so it is a very exciting place to work. Our culture is extremely important to us, so we have built a unique culture around five core values: passion, foresight, collaboration, …

Beyond the buzz? Getting to the crux of legal tech

Editors' views

illustration of bee on documents

Deutschland editor Anna Bauböck speaks to a selection of partners about the meaning of legal technology, innovation, and a changing profession

With such a buzz around ‘legal tech’ these last few years, I’ve found myself questioning what people actually mean by the term. Today every firm I meet wants to talk about it, but the definition and understanding of legal tech appears to vary widely and not surprisingly so, as it can encompass a whole host …

Invent, move forward, collaborate

Interview with: Georg Frowein and Rainer Krause

George Frowein and Rainer

Hengeler Mueller’s co-managing partners provide advice to the next generation of partners and explain why they shun the ‘straitjacket’ of branch networks

How would you define your firm’s culture? How important is firm culture to you? Throughout the existence of Hengeler Mueller, we have preserved a close and cooperative culture within our partnership. We regard this as a very precious element of our firm and key to our success. Most Hengeler Mueller partners spend their whole career …

Gavin Vallely: A true industry focus

Interview with...

Gavin Vallely

HFW’s Australia managing partner on what sets his firm apart from the competition, creating a ‘one stop shop’, and ‘unrestricted’ partner access

What’s the main change you’ve made in Australia that will benefit clients? When we established HFW’s first office in Australia in 2006 our principal service areas were shipping and commodities, being the industry sectors for which the firm is widely recognised internationally as having market-leading expertise. Australia generates about 10% of the world’s bulk freight …

How to attract Chinese rainmakers

Interview with: Milton Cheng

Baker McKenzie’s Hong Kong managing partner talks about the firm’s joint operation with FenXun Partners and the challenges facing international firms in a tough China market

How would you define Baker McKenzie’s culture and how important is it to you? We believe firm culture is very important. It sets the tone for how we interact with each other, our clients and our communities at large. We have a collaborative, entrepreneurial, pragmatic, diverse, and inclusive culture. These qualities among our lawyers and …

Making a merger – the hard yards behind the first year of BCLP

Leadership

illustration of office

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner co-chair Lisa Mayhew speaks to UK Solicitors editor Georgina Stanley on 2018’s transatlantic merger and the strategy for future growth

‘What have I learned?’ quips Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) co-chair Lisa Mayhew, speaking to The Legal 500 last month on the first anniversary of the firm’s merger, ‘I’ve learned that mergers are hard work and you don’t sleep much.’ The combined firm launched at the start of April last year, when top 20 UK …