Law Firms Are Finally Breaking Down Taboos Surrounding Mental Health

What happens when lawyers mingle with psychologists?

The legal world is finally beginning to face the issue of mental illness. Though research has shown that lawyers experience higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide than the general population, law firms have been slow to tackle the problem. But recently, several large firms, including Norton Rose Fulbright and Hogan Lovells, have begun to address the issue head-on, with on-site psychologists and mental-health support programs.

“We’re trying to eliminate some of the stigma around these issues,” Tracee Whitley, the chief of operations at Norton Rose Fulbright, told The Wall Street Journal.

Part of the problem, says Joseph Andrew, global chairman of Dentons, is that firms feared being open about mental wellness would give an opening to competitors to claim they have “crazy lawyers.” But with the legal world being ranked 11th in suicides in 2012 among all sectors, the moves are a much needed step to destigmatize mental health issues in a vulnerable population.

And so far, says Oliver Armas, the managing partner of Hogan Lovells New York, “it’s been a rousing success.”