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 …

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


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 …

Being nimble wins the game

Career corner

photo of cheetah

Senior researcher Dr Dana Ferchland explains how US patent litigation practices have adapted to the changing legal landscape and grown their talent pool

The US patent litigation market has evolved significantly over the past few years. Two main drivers are responsible for most of these changes. The first is 2012’s America Invents Act which introduced the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and established inter partes reviews (IPR) as a new tool to challenging the validity of patents. …

How to become a smart shopper of AI


illustration of robot shopping

Whether making a direct investment or utilising the products of others, there’s plenty of options for robot lawyering, says Dan Carmel, chief marketing officer of iManage

Information is the coin of the realm for any corporate legal department or law firm – and that is probably why the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) has a generated so much excitement across the legal industry. AI, properly applied, can produce dramatic productivity improvements, enabling document reviews and other basic legal tasks to be …

Legal advice must include human rights considerations

Human rights

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Australia’s first federal Modern Slavery Act came into effect on 1 January 2019, in a move that has been hailed as a significant step to end forced labour and human trafficking. Law firms have started responding with changes to their teams to advise clients on the act’s implications. Under the new law, companies with an …

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


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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

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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 …