LAW FIRM’S WELLNESS SNAPSHOT
Allen & Overy – Corporate Initiative
It has its own Minds Matter programme to support its people by focusing on mental health in workplace. There are over 40 Mental Health Advocates – partners and senior support professionals from every major A&O office. Their role is to sponsor its Minds Matter programme locally by normalizing mental health conversations and championing working practices that support positive mental health. Allen & Overy is an active member of the City Mental Health Alliance in Hong Kong. Alongside other city businesses, it is supporting the Alliance to achieve its vision of helping city workers, at all levels, talk about mental health without fear of stigma.
Ashurst - Corporate Initiative
The Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being in Workplaces (the Advisory) has been introduced by the Tripartite Partners to encourage employers to implement a wide-ranging series of workplace initiatives to support the mental well-being of employees.
In recognition of the importance of mental health in the workplace, the Singapore Tripartite Partners have released the Advisory. Given the potentially adverse effects on employees' mental well-being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Advisory provides various recommendations which employers should implement to support their employees' mental well-being.
Cleary Gottlieb has been recognized by Yale Law Women in its 2021 Top Firms for Gender Equity & Family Friendliness Report for its leading policies and practices to support the advancement of gender parity.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, Cleary Gottlieb associate Eloise Skinner wrote “The Wellbeing Checklist: How Are You Doing?” for The Lawyer.
The checklist helps lawyers evaluate their mental and physical health, personal relationships, work-related stress, and more. Eloise encourages lawyers to make the checklist evaluation a regular habit as part of an overall well-being plan.
Clifford Chance – Hong Kong Office and Corporate Intiative
The law firm has partnered with a coalition of global organisations and business leaders including leaders of BHP, Deloitte, HSBC, Salesforce and Unilever, who are committed to advancing mental health awareness and best practices in the workplace to launch The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health.
Clifford Chance has been awarded for its commitment to workplace wellbeing. As one of the 106 organisations to take part in Mind’s second annual Workplace Wellbeing Index, Clifford Chance was recognized with a Bronze Award, as commendation for firm’s commitment to achieving change within its workplace.
Deacons – Corporate Initiative
Some 34 professionals from law firm Deacons take time out on Saturday morning to stretch and get into the magic laughter to pursue emotional wellness. Deacon’s team shook hands and mingled with 25 individuals brought together by the Mental Health Foundation, a charity that organizes events to advance mental wellness of Hongkongers. Deacons senior partner Lillian Chiang Sui-fook hoped more people would understand the importance of mental health.
The firm also has an annual health week in June that helps to raise awareness among members of staff and their families of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. During the firm’s health week, it spoils their employees with in-office chair massages. The conference room is transformed into a spa complete with 4 massage stations, music and ambiance.
Regarding the inventive mindfulness practice, it is worth taking reference from a European practice of such model which has demonstrated enormous effectiveness. Dentons, the largest law firm in the world by number of lawyers, achieves 32% reduction in stress in European mindfulness. Dentons, without formal headquarters and partnership equity, can be classified as a truly international legal entity with its Swiss Verein structure.
European practice (other than UK) has rarely come into world attention. Yet, its mindfulness initiative NextMind by Denton’s Europe Chief Mindfulness Officer (i.e. Denton is the first global firm to create this role) Ms Furga-Dabrowska has received worldwide recognition as a groundbreaking scientific invention. Relying on principles of neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology, NextMind uses regular mindfulness meditation to develop core elements of emotional intelligence, such as self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, social skills and empathy.
Participants in the pilot NextMind program reported a reduction in stress of almost one-third, a 75% improvement in social wellbeing, and an 18% improvement in emotional wellbeing. Beyond formal wellness program, the firms can also enable their attorneys to provide exceptional client service and improve attorney decision-making. As the firm becomes more inclusive, the employees are more willing to talk about their vulnerabilities and open to consultation and treatment.
Goodwin Procter – Corporate Initiative
The firm hands out new lawyer “wellbeing” bonuses and up to $20K for paralegals. The firm’s managing partner Mark Bettencourt emailed to paralegals outlined bonuses worth between $8000 and $20,000. In additional to paralegal bonuses, Bettencourt announced $1,000 bonuses for all non-partner lawyers, science advisors and science law clerks in some offices including that of Hong Kong. The partner said in another internal email that the money can be used in ways however you like to engage in self care or new exercise equipment. The payments come as major firms grapple with concerns over lawyer and staff burnout and look for ways – ranging from widespread industry bonuses to retain lawyers and keep them content.
Hogan Lovells - Corporate Initiative
Hogan Lovells has bolstered its policies and procedures around workplace stress and mental health in the wake of the tragic suicide of respected IP partner David Latham. The firm currently has a dedicated, full-time occupational health adviser who is based on-site and supported by a senior offsite occupational health physician who is available to provide advice and guidance to individuals or line managers who may have concerns. It also has a private GP service and a confidential 24 hour help and advice line staffed by trained counsellors.
King & Wood Mallesons – Corporate Initiative
Their current initiatives include regular lunchtime seminars on a variety of health-related topics, health & well-being expos, free and subsidized gym memberships, flu vaccinations, skin cancer checks, dental and health insurance discounts, massage and reflexology, subsidized yoga and pilates, and sporting activities including lunchtime team events and corporate sporting events.
Work & Life is a suite of flexible working policies at KWM, including part-time work, job sharing, teleworking, flexible hours, an emergency child care service, child and elder care resource kits, a work/life links referral service, a no bullying policy, family service meeting times, time off for family commitments, a swap pay for leave program and other initiatives designed to balance life and work. The policy objective is to ensure all staff are able to achieve a healthy work life balance.
Latham & Watkins - Hong Kong Office
Latham & Watkins has transplanted the LiveWell Latham in Hong Kong but the Hong Kong Office has reduced the legal mindfulness issue as a medical issue rather than a holistic well-being advance. It partners with a local corporate-based mindfulness provider to offer i) mental health first aid programs to train Human Resources and other key personnels to be able to respond to signs of mental health issues and ii) allies program that will train colleagues in mental health literacy to be alert of relevant symptoms for themselves and others.
Lewis Silkin – Hong Kong Office
The law firm Lewis Silkin hosted conference on Mental Health in workplace across Asia Pacific which brought together the region’s leading employment lawyers, medical, HR and health insurance professionals to discuss the legal implications of this critical issue and what employers can do to improve mental wellbeing in their organization.
The conference formed part of a global campaign Lewis Silkin launched this year called #ThisPlaceMinds, which focuses on assisting clients with improving mental wellbeing in the workplace. The campaign #ThisPlaceMinds includes a week of wellbeing activities during Mental Health Awareness week – including a dedicated mindfulness room, free gym visits, and a session on how to improve sleep.
Kathryn Weaver, partner of the firm, concluded the conference said the most important thing to get out of today is to keep the conversation going around mental health. Karen Baxter, another partner, said the firm treat the employees’ mental wellbeing as seriously as their physical wellbeing.
Lewis Silkin also introduced a Guardians programme, developed in conjunction with The Old Vic theatre. The role of Guardian is to listen and give neutral support on issue and offer advice on where to get further help. Guardians respect and maintain absolute confidentiality over issues raised with them except in cases in which the issues might amount to a criminal offence.
They have been awarded the ‘Excelling’ accreditation mark by the City Mental Health Alliance (‘CMHA’) in its Thriving at Work assessment for the second year in a row since its inception. The firm has received the highest-level accreditation mark that can be awarded which recognises best practice in developing mental health and wellbeing strategies.
Morrison & Foerster
Morrison & Foerster has been recognized by JUVE/azur, the leading career platform for young legal professionals in Germany, as part of its prestigious azur 2020 awards.
Of note, azur shined light on the firm’s Healthy MoFo Program, stating that few law firms promote a healthy life as comprehensively as Morrison & Foerster. It noted that the firm has made sure that mental health awareness and mindfulness are fostered within its team, giving rise to a new spirit. The publication added that numerous initiatives underpin the program. For example, last year a team from the Berlin office cycled through the Alps, while others went to a weekly workout together.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
The law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman asked employees to share their wellness concerns. To address the urgent concerns of its employees more quickly, the law firm recently partnered with an online health service that matches individuals with specialized therapists or coaches. Topics for help include stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, sleep disorders, and substance abuse. Appointments can take place in person or virtually.
Early indications show the program hit the mark. Within three weeks, 10 percent of the global workforce signed up for the confidential service.
Reed Smith – Corporate Initiative
Reed Smith LPP’s Wellness Works Team first launched “Get Moving Challenge” in 2018. The Get Moving Challenge uses creative local activities, education, friendly competitions, and technology to help its people increase their personal physical activity levels.
Wellness Works was launched in January 2018 to promote, support and sustain the well-being of all employees of the firm in response to the inherently high pressure environment of the legal profession. The initiative comprises stress management, work-life balance, healthy habits, and health mindfulness.
The six week Get Moving Challenge has fired up the imagination of Reed Smith personnel throughout the globe, including its Hong Kong office with involvement in local walks, runs, and other planned fitness events organized by Get Moving Champions in each office.
Participants use their smart devices or other fitness trackers to log their daily activities and advance across a virtual map of the firm’s offices. The Wellness Works Team would award grant prizes to the challengers who log the most physical activity in the period.
Slaughter and May - Corporate Initiative
In 2019, Slaughter and May has become the first law firm to partner with workplace mental health and wellbeing app Unmind. The workplace-focused platform, which counts British Airways, Just Eat and Farfetch among its clientele, provides written advice, podcasts and assessment tools to help staff prepare for meetings and calls, ready themselves for presentations, assist with breathing and sleeping, and deliver preventative approaches.
Witherworldwide – Hong Kong Office
Wither’s law firm is located in Admiralty, Hong Kong, whose relocation transformed their office into an open and agile workplace that offers a relaxing and welcoming environmental for clients and staff. They have multipurpose rooms adjacent to café and perks such as a TV corner with video games, a wellness room and a fully equipped fitness room to reflect the energetic side of their employees.
Law firm Withers engaged employees across 17 offices in a fundraising fitness challenge “The Withers World Tour”, which started in October 2020. The purpose of the challenge is to invite employees to travel the 23,000 miles between their offices and raise US$23,000 for charity. A total of HK$357,000 was given to three charities in Hong Kong, the UK, and the US.
Another objective of the fundraiser is to increase awareness of the importance of “work from home”, inspired in part by one of the London team’s family members who passed away in 2020. It is also a means to bring people together the world over while we adapted to some new home working environments, and to motivate and support us all to get out of our seats