Transcript: 

CHRIS NEWBOLD:

Hello, friends and well-being advocates. Welcome to the Path to Well-Being In Law podcast, an initiative of the Institute for Well-Being In Law. I’m your co-host Chris Newbold, Executive Vice President of ALPS Malpractice Insurance. And as you know, our goal is to introduce you to thought leaders doing meaningful work in the space of well-being within the legal profession, and in the process build and nurture a national network of well-being advocates intent on creating a culture shift within the profession. I’m thrilled to be joined by my co-host Bree Buchanan, and I’m proud to announce that as well, and I’ll give Bree a chance to weigh in here, but I also wanted to announce that Bree has transitioned from the co-chair of the national taskforce for lawyer wellbeing, to the first president of the Institute for Well-Being In Law, which is a natural Baton pass from the national task force to the Institute. She’s such a great organizer and we are in really good hands with her at the helm. So Bree, welcome.

BREE BUCHANAN:

Thank you Chris. When you said that, I think my heart skipped a beat.

CHRIS:

You didn’t know I was going there, but I felt like that’s newsworthy. And I want to make sure that that folks know that Bree is continuing in leadership. And as we launched the Institute for Well-Being In Law, she’ll be such a great leader for us. And today I’m very excited to welcome to the podcast, I’d characterize him as a quiet yet influential well-being advocate, Steve Wall of Morgan Lewis, and a conversation about reducing stigmas within the law firm culture and how to overcome individual battles with disorders while maintaining a successful practice. Bree, I’m going to pass it to you to introduce Steve, and Steve, welcome to the podcast.

STEVE WALL:

Thank you very much, Chris. Great to be here.

BREE:

Wonderful. Well, as an introduction, Steve Wall is an award-winning attorney and a managing partner for Morgan Lewis & Bockius, which is truly a global firm. And we were just talking to Steve before we got started and learned that there are 2100 attorneys as part of Morgan Lewis in 31 office around the world. So truly, truly global. And it’s one of the top firms in the world in regards to the number of lawyers. As managing partners, Steve is responsible for the global firm’s practices, industry initiatives, lateral partner recruitment, and strategic business planning. And he’s also, as if that’s not enough to do, he’s also a senior partner in its labor and employment practice. So Steve, thank you so much for being here. We’re so thrilled to have you.

STEVE:

I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Thank you, Bree.

BREE:

So Chris, I’ll let you get us started here.

CHRIS:

Yeah. So Steve, I think one of the things that we customarily do with our guests is just talk to you about what brought you into the well-being space. And normally most of us have some type of a personal perspective that catapulted this issue to the forefront for us. And so we just love it, to start with your personal story and how you found yourself where you are today and some of the challenges that you may have faced as you built a very successful law practice at Morgan Lewis.

STEVE:

Yeah. Thanks Chris. For me it’s very simple. I came into the well-being community because of my own addiction to alcohol, which impacted me from the time I was a teenager until 11 years ago when I came into recovery, and I’ve been in recovery ever since. For me, alcoholism has been a major part of my life as it has impacted my entire family. Both of my parents were active alcoholics until the time they passed, as were many of my grandparents and relatives. Unfortunately, two of my brothers died of this disease. And so I count myself as extremely fortunate and very grateful that I was able to find recovery at a later point in my life than I wish I had, but at least I did. And as such, I believe there is much to give back to those who helped make my recovery possible. And as you mentioned earlier, to eliminate to the extent possible, humanly possible, the stigma that surrounds mental health challenges and addiction.

BREE:

Absolutely. That is such an issue. And I’ll tell you, I just jumped a little bit when you said 11 years ago. I shared my recovery story in our first podcast, but it was 11 years ago that I got into recovery, also for an alcohol use disorder. And I too wished I had not waited until I was 45 years old to make that change in my life. But it is just amazing the gifts that have come from those 11 years of sobriety. D you have the same experience?

STEVE:

Absolutely. It’s great to know that we’re siblings in recovery Bree. Because those 11 years seem to have gone by very, very quickly. But my life has changed immensely. I was what you would call the classic functional alcoholic. And while my disease continued to worsen and the personal consequences of being an addict continued to take their toll, at the same time, I was continuing my career as a big law firm associate, a big law firm partner, a big law firm leader, and literally separated my personality between the addict side of me, which was the true side of me, and then the professional side of me, which is what I wanted you to see. And as we all know when it all crashes, that separation goes away.

BREE:

Yeah. And so painful. It’s like you are speaking my story to that separation. And so people wonder, it’s like, “Well, how can you have such an issue with alcohol and yet you seem to be just hitting all the buttons at work?” And it’s hard to understand. Let me ask you, just digging a little bit deeper, what got you into recovery 11 years ago? If you don’t mind my asking.

STEVE:

Sure. I realized in my thirties that my alcohol use disorder was causing problems. It was causing problems in my personal relationships. It was causing potential problems in my professional life because I would engage in behaviors around drinking which today certainly would not be acceptable. Back in the 1980s, work hard party hard had a different meaning to it than it does now. And so I, I made the mistake that so many of us that have large egos and who believe that we can control everything about our surroundings, I made the mistake in believing that I could control my drinking. And so that started about a decade long attempt to control my drinking, which had positive consequences, because a lot of the negative things around my drinking mitigated, and I wasn’t doing the stupid things and putting myself in stupid positions that I had been before. But then as we know the disease of addiction progresses and it doesn’t get better.

And so I then found myself falling back into the types of behaviors, the lying, the hiding, the making up excuses as to why I was late or not available for professional and personal matters. And that led to about a 10 year descent into a dark state. All of the things that happen to individuals around addiction.

BREE:

Right.

STEVE:

My physical health started to worsen, my ability to have strong personal relationships with people was being cracked. My professional life was at risk because of circumstances I would put myself in. And it all came down to a Sunday morning breakfast in a diner where across the table from me was my boss at the time who was then the chair of the firm and my wife. Who had gotten together, and both said, “Enough.” That my attempt to divide my life between my professional life and my personal life had now ended with a two by four to my head. And I had a simple choice, which was to do something about it and to seek help for the first time in my life, or to let both parts of my life leave because that was the choice that they gave me.

BREE:

I ran into that same two by four, and it is a painful wake up call for sure. And so I, why we’re asking you about these things, Steve, of course, I’m sure you know the point of this is to try to, for us to share our stories. So something resonates with one of our listeners who may be starting to think there’s an issue, or they’re worried about somebody else and bring that light on. Just another question, you said that you started to develop some awareness that you were having this dual life and issues with the alcohol in your thirties, but then there was this 10 year period that you just knew you needed to hide it, or borough it, keep people from knowing the extent of the problem. That’s certainly something that I experienced. What was going through your mind during that period of time that kept you from taking the step to get help and start getting some relief and get better?

STEVE:

Yeah, great question. And it ultimately has to do with who I thought I was as a person. And I believe that in this way, I have a lot in common with many, many attorneys. Now, we are trained to be problem solvers. We are trained to be analytical. We are cheered and given great reward for the success we have in solving other people’s problems. And as a result, we developed this false persona that there is no issue that we are incapable of solving ourselves.

And the single biggest factor that kept me from recognizing the depth of my addiction and getting into recovery sooner, was my inability to recognize that I could not do this myself and I had to seek help.

BREE:

Yeah.

STEVE:

And when it finally became evident that if I did not seek help, I was going to lose everything that was dear to me personally and professionally, for the first time in my life, 11 years ago, I sought help. And when I sought that help, I was honest about what was going on with me, as opposed to trying to project an image of somebody who had it all together and had everything under control. And if there was one thing different I could do in my life, it would be to have that moment of grace which I had 11 years ago about the necessity of reaching out to others for help when you’re dealing with mental health issues.

BREE:

Yeah. I think of one word that, that can answer that question for me. And it comes down to ego of you just sort of devolve everything down into what’s keeping you from being honest, keeping you from asking for help. Which is, asking for help is not something we lawyers do very well. Chris, let you jump in here a little bit.

CHRIS:

Yeah. Steve, I was going to ask, do you feel like you find yourself where you are today without that boss-wife conversation?

STEVE:

Probably not. I have worked enough in recovery with other alcoholics and addicts to know that everybody’s bottom is different. Sometimes the bottom is because you get caught up in the legal system through DUIs or other criminal activity, and that’s often a wake up call. And I certainly could have seen myself headed in that direction if I had continued to use. Sometimes it’s health. The doctor basically says, as he said to my father, before my father drank himself to death at the age of 55, “If you don’t stop drinking you are going to die.” And sometimes that brings people into the rooms of recovery. But for me, it was the recognition that my efforts to keep my professional life distinct from my personal life has now failed, and that they were talking to one another and both were going away if I did not get honest with both and deal with the mental health challenges that I had.

So for me personally, that was the wake up call. And I’m grateful for it. I’ve expressed to both of those individuals how grateful I am. I wasn’t particularly grateful that Sunday morning in the diner, but since that time, I’ve developed a sense of gratitude and understanding of how hard it was for the two of them, neither of which have addiction issues and found it impossible to believe that the person that they loved and had worked with for decades could not control this problem of drinking.

CHRIS:

Yeah. And I think one of the things that’s… We talk a lot in the well-being movement about the desire for a culture shift. And I’ve always been of the belief that it takes individuals like yourself who actually have a thumb on the pulse of culture within law firms that could really be the catalyst for us to significantly move forward. Right? If your boss hadn’t come and sat you down, this could be a very different ending.

And Steve, I’m curious on your just reflections. I think I’m right in saying that you’ve spent your entire career at Morgan Lewis, right? So you’ve seen the firm grow up if you will. And just your general impressions of how much culture has shifted per se, in terms of, again, the ability for folks to have more honest conversations about things that are affecting them, particularly in their health happiness, which we know ultimately affects productivity as well.

STEVE:

Chris, great questions. Because I joined Morgan first as a summer associate after my second year of law school at Cornell Law School. And I then joined Morgan Lewis after I graduated, and then worked for a year on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as a clerk, and then came back to Morgan Lewis. And so, my entire adult life, my entire professional life has been with this same institution. And there has been massive change, which is not unique to Morgan Lewis, but it’s a change that, over the course of the last 11 years, I’ve been privileged to quicken and hopefully bring to the point where we can become an example of positive mental health awareness and practices within professional law firms. The differences are many, but I would say that the key ones are, I grew up in an environment where everyone honored working really hard, really intensely, personal problems were just that, they were personal problems.

If you were going through marital issues or relationship issues, you just had to deal with them. If you were going through mental health issues, well, suck it up, because that’s not what our clients pay us for. Our clients pay us to work hard, solve their problems, appear indestructible in what we do. And I look back now over my time at the firm in the eighties and the nineties, and I see victims of that culture. I see people who I know, if we had been the firm that we are today, we could have helped those people. They might still be here. They might still be alive, as opposed to having found themselves in situations where they could not extricate themselves from the horror of descent into bad mental health. And I’ve seen many careers and marriages and personal lives destroyed by addiction over the course of the last 30 years.

So the work hard-party hard culture really needs to be put aside forever, because it just makes no sense. And the stigma, and you put it Bree, ego, the belief that we as lawyers are indestructible and that nothing should bother us, that’s not what people pay us for. That cultural problem has to go away too, because it just isn’t true. We’re just like everybody else. In fact, the intensity of our profession makes it more likely, as all of you know, from the great studies done by Patrick Krill, the intensity of our profession makes it more likely that we will suffer from mental health than many, many other professions and many, many other jobs that people have in our economy.

BREE:

Absolutely. So well put. And Steve, I just want to dig a little bit more into your story, because I think that there is further lessons for people that might be listening. When I finally had that two by four to the head and decided to do something, for me, I waited too long and I ended up losing my marriage and losing my job. So I went to the other side of what you wanted to avoid. But man, when it got my attention, I threw myself into every single thing that I could think of to get better. What was part of your recovery? What helped you?

STEVE:

Yeah. There was a series of things. It started with, I knew, but more importantly, I knew but couldn’t articulate it, but wife and my boss knew that I had to take a break from the practice of law and from my service as managing partner to care for myself. I didn’t know what it meant to care for myself. I was always physically active. I always ran and worked out and try to keep myself in physical state, primarily, so I could continue to work hard. But I never understood what it meant to care for oneself as opposed to taking care of everybody else’s problems. And so I went to rehab for 30 days, and it was at the time, in the beginning, the absolute scariest thing I’d ever done. I thought my life was over. I thought my job was gone. I thought my marriage was leaving while I was away. I didn’t know how to focus on what was really going on with me.

I had never dealt with the fact that I grew up in an alcoholic household. I never dealt with the sense of abandonment, of being the oldest of five children and feeling responsible for everybody because my parents were not capable because of their own illness to deal with the things that they had to deal with. So that stint in rehab helped me immensely to be able to focus on that. But what I learned in rehab was, it would have been a complete wasted effort if I didn’t make recovery, the single most important thing in my life going forward. And that didn’t mean that I had to leave my job or change my personal relationships. What it meant was that I had to put through the prism of my recovery, every single thing that I did from that point forward.

And for the most part, I haven’t been perfect. But for the most part over the last 11 years, that’s exactly what I’ve done. There was a six month period of time where I did not travel for work. I didn’t feel safe traveling. There was a, for two years, I saw a recovery coach, an addiction therapist, at least two times a week, if not more, so that I would stay grounded on what was important, My recovery. I became a member of a 12-step program, still I’m today. I did a lot of service in that 12-step program and still do today. And all of those things were designed to keep me focused on that single most important thing, which was my recovery. Because without my recovery, every single thing that’s important to me would then be gone. And the mistake I had made in the 30 years prior was thinking that the other things were the most important and that I can deal with this alcohol thing if I just had time. If I didn’t have to work so hard, I wouldn’t have to drink. If I didn’t have to deal with relationship issues, I wouldn’t have to drink.

BREE:

Right.

STEVE:

And what I learned was, if I don’t drink, all of those things get better over time.

CHRIS:

Did you consider leaving the practice of law? Or was the aspiration to get back there, but just as a different person, so to speak?

STEVE:

I was confronted with that possibility by my therapist, multiple therapists, by my wife, by my boss. I was confronted with, “Is it going to be better for you to leave the firm and do something else?” I didn’t want to, there was huge fear associated with that. And where I ended up was, that I didn’t have to. Because the things I talked about earlier, things such as putting my 12 step meetings in my work calendar so that my assistant and everyone else knew when I was not available. Telling all of the partners with whom I worked and telling clients with whom I worked, that I had gone to rehab, that I was in recovery, and that I did not drink any longer. Those are the things that allowed me to continue to practice law. Because that divide between my professional life and my personal life, that the lying, the hiding, the projection of somebody who I wasn’t, that all had to end. And thankfully it did end.

So the clients I spoke to about my addiction, about my time off in rehab, about the fact that I couldn’t travel to see them, they were incredibly receptive. And their reception and their understanding allowed me to continue to do what I do. And as time went on, I began to help them. As time went on, a number of clients and colleagues who have come to me because of addiction issues that they’re facing either themselves or with family members or with friends, or with colleagues, has allowed me to give back in a way that they gave to me early on in my recovery. And that’s made it…

In fact, now to me, it’s inconceivable to me that I would leave my position until I retire, because I now know I can do so much good by being an example of a senior partner at a global law firm who’s in recovery. And by being that good example, hopefully give others the hope that they too can deal with the issue and recover. And whether they’re the spouse of an addict or the colleague of an addict or an addict themselves, I now know that I can give hope to those people because they see me, who I am today, different than who I was a lot of years ago. Hmm.

CHRIS:

This is a good time, I think, for our first break. But let me be the first Steve, to thank you for sharing your story. There’s a vulnerability that has allowed you to share your experience in a way that I’m sure resonates with many listeners out there. And again, your willingness then to both share that in a raw account and then be willing to give back and identify and help others in similar situations. That’s what we need within the profession. The ability for us to step back, reflect, but then re-engage for the betterment of our profession and how it serves society. And we certainly appreciate your willingness to come onto the podcast and share your individual story.

BREE:

Yes, absolutely.

CHRIS:

Let’s take a quick break and we’ll come back and talk a little bit more about Morgan Lewis and some advice Steve has for law firm leaders as we continue to advance the well-being movement.

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BREE:

All right, welcome back everybody. And we have, again with us today, Steve Wall, who is managing partner at one of the largest global firms on the planet, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, and have been having a really amazing, honest, deep conversation about recovery. We really want to sort of switch gears a little bit, and let’s start talking about the legal system in general and what’s going on in the shifts around well-being. So I know some of the things that I know about Morgan Lewis is that your firm was one of the original signatories of the ABA’s Well-Being Pledge for legal employers. I know, and we’re delighted to say Morgan Lewis is a founding champion, a supporter of our Institute, the Institute for Well-Being In Law. Could you talk a little bit about some of the things that Morgan Lewis has done specifically around programming for well-being? And just different initiatives in structural changes?

STEVE:

Yeah. That I think you know there’s so much more that we can do at Morgan Lewis and that law firms can do generally, but I’m very proud of what we’ve done under the leadership of our current chair, Jami McKeon, over the last six years. We were one of the original signatories to the ABA Pledge and proud to be that. We have had mandatory training of all of our lawyers on mental health issues within the profession. We have encouraged our human resources team, our practice leadership team, our senior partners across the firm to be very active with much empathy when it comes to mental health issues across the firm. We are committed to eliminating the stigma that comes with mental health.

I often, Bree, as you can understand, I often analogize it to diabetes. If I had a partner or an associate who is suffering from diabetes, and as a result had to be quite disciplined about his or her diet and needed to ensure that they were able to eat and ingest food and nutrients on a regular basis, I would bend over backwards as a leader of the firm to ensure that that individual had what he or she needed in order to stay healthy as a diabetic.

And we should be doing the exact same thing with mental health. We should recognize it as an illness that is no one’s fault. There is no good or bad about a person who suffers from mental health. They are not evil. They are not weak. They are not bad people. They are sick people who need our help. And the more we can do to eliminate that stigma, the more we will allow people to come forward and ask for the help that so many of them so desperately need. So that cultural shift has been a huge shift within our firm, but we also see it in some of the ways in which we act. Morgan Lewis has a very special relationship with Caron treatment centers, which is one of the country’s most well-known and best addiction treatment facilities in Wernersville, Pennsylvania.

We have made arrangements for many, many of our lawyers to seek treatment there. We have helped the organization financially. We have invited some of their treatment personnel to speak to our lawyers. We’ve made clear that if someone needs assistance, they’re going to do it with our help, not behind our back, because we want to know. Other things we’ve done, I mentioned the training. But we’ve had a special relationship with one of your colleagues, Patrick Krill, who has personally met with the entire leadership of the firm, our advisory board and our management committee, which are the top leadership groups within our firm. Had a two hour presentation by Patrick Krill a couple of years ago, in which he helped us understand the types of things that we needed to do to set a culture that was conducive to strong mental health.

And we have recognized we have a very liberal leave of absence policy that does not distinguish between leaves of absence for mental health and leaves of absence for physical disabilities, which we all understand. If someone needs to have surgery on their back, we understand why they can’t be available to work. Well, the same is true for someone who needs to take time off to go to rehab, to go to counseling to seek psychological assistance. It’s no different than that person who had back surgery and who we recognize, explicitly, needs time off before they can come back to work.

BREE:

One of the things I think is just indicative of the commitment, I believe Morgan Lewis was one of the very first to create a position within the firm. You have a Director of Well-Being, and that just speaks volumes as well.

STEVE:

Yes. And Krista Larson is that director of well-being and she is fantastic. And we focus, not just on the problems associated with mental health, but we focus on mitigating mental health. So as we speak right now, some of the things that we’ve done with pandemic is, we started several years ago and Krista joined us. We started what we call ML Well, and ML Well is an initiative involving hundreds of our attorneys and many of our staff in which they design get togethers, they design concepts, they design webinars. And we’ve used that base during the pandemic to really drive opportunities for people to come together. So it might be virtual cooking classes, virtual meditation classes, virtual yoga, opportunities for families and children to come together. All of that is part of ML Well. So ML Well drives a lot of positive behavior that helps us relieve the anxiety and the pressure of our jobs.

The fact that we have yoga programs several times a week, that attorneys and staff can join virtually, as opposed to encouraging them to join a happy hour or just take a drink, that’s the big change. I remember as a young lawyer really enjoying Thursday afternoon happy hours because it was a chance to get away from my desk. It was a chance to meet up with colleagues. And the fact that drinking was involved was just, that’s just the way it was. We don’t need to do just that anymore. We still that because the majority of our lawyers have no issue with alcohol and use it socially, and they should, but for those who worry about that, or do have issues, or want to refrain from engaging in that activity, we have numerous other ways to relieve stress, to engage with your colleagues, to get to know people other than working across the table or computer from them on the client work that we do.

CHRIS:

Steve, one of the things that we are actively working on in terms of our national movement is how to most effectively measure success. And I’m curious as you think about Morgan Lewis’s investment in well-being, how do you know that the commitment that you’re making is having the desired outcomes, right? Obviously you invested in Krista’s position with a sense that there would be, either a return on investment, or the culture shift. And I’m just curious as you think about that, how do you know that you’ve succeeded or that you’re moving the ball forward?

STEVE:

Well, the individual examples that I’m aware of, the individual lives that we’ve helped better, are enough for me. I know though, for every individual person that I have been involved with or am aware of, there are many, many more who simply see that example and have sought help themselves. I’m constantly amazed even with my openness about my recovery, I’m constantly amazed at how partners and associates will come up to me, who I’ve known for years, and will tell me how proud they are of the firm, that they’ve been in recovery themselves for five, 10, 15, 25 years. And I never knew that. I never was aware that those individuals existed. And now they’re willing to come forward and acknowledge it. And by acknowledging it, they’re changing the culture.

But there have been many, many individuals who I know would not be at the firm today, and may in fact be dead if it weren’t for the opportunities and the reach out and the positive reinforcement that our firm has given those individuals. By sponsoring them to go for help, by working with them on post rehabilitation, changes in their work life, by telling them that it’s okay. It’s okay that you’re, for example, living in a halfway house while still serving as a partner at the firm. It’s okay if you have to take off every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon to go see your therapist and still be a successful associate at the firm. Those are the things that we’re doing openly for those people.

And then you know in any organization, people see those things. And when they see that those things are okay, it gives them a license to take care of themselves better. So I don’t need to see statistics because I know that the dozen or more individuals that I’ve personally been involved with have reaped great benefits for dozens more who see the change in the lives of those individuals at the firm.

CHRIS:

Yeah. I love that. I also imagine that you’re utilizing that in some respects in your talent acquisition of the new lawyers coming into the firms from law schools. Yeah. It certainly feels like work-life balance is becoming more prominent in terms of the next generation. And your commitment, I’m guessing, is part of one of those strategies that allows you to recruit the best and the brightest into the firm.

STEVE:

You’re absolutely correct. We still hire the majority of our people through the traditional summer program. I’ll be at remote in 2020 and likely remote in 2021. But prior to that, we changed up completely the social events around our summer program. I ran the summer program for three years when I was a junior partner, I know the pressure that a summer program that’s heavy on drinking events puts on people who don’t like to, or can’t drink. I know intuitively that we lost Helen, who decided not to join us because the work hard party hard culture was not for them. Well, that doesn’t exist anymore. We don’t sponsor those activities anymore. We don’t allow those activities anymore.

The activities we have now around the summer program, around our new attorney orientation, around our partner orientation, around our partner meeting, the activities are more healthy. They include opportunities to have a social drink with a colleague, but they don’t include open bar for hours at a time. They don’t include, the only opportunity to engage socially is to hang out at a bar, at a hotel, in a hotel lobby. They include things like mountain bike riding in Arizona, and kayaking, and having a celebrity chef come in to teach us how to cook. They include the types of things that have the exact same impact on allowing you to take a break, socialize with your colleagues, relieve anxiety. They allow you to do all that without the unhealthy behavior that sometimes comes with a drinking event.

BREE:

And also to have fun. Those things that you’re talking about sound like tremendous fun. Steve, just a final question, it’s of two parts. Do you have some closing words of advice for new lawyers who are coming on who want to be both successful and well? And do you have any words of advice for the more senior lawyers who might see this movement as a bit beyond their experience in law or perhaps even irrelevant? What do you have to say to those folks?

STEVE:

Yeah, I do Bree. And I’m in no special position other than my own experience. And there are two things that I would change in my life if I could at this point. One, adopt and find healthy habits to relieve the stress and pressure of our very intense profession. Do something that you love to do. Whether it’s physical exercise, reading, music, volunteering, giving back to others, do something that makes you feel good. There’s always, always room and time to take care of yourself. No one expects you to work yourself to death, which is the direction that so many of our lawyers, whether addicts or not, find themselves in. So adopt a healthy lifestyle that allows you to both be a successful professional in an intense profession, but to keep yourself well.

The second point is, do not allow the historic stigma around mental health from stopping you from doing the right thing. And I don’t direct that to people who suffer mental health challenges themselves, I’m directing that to healthy people who see unhealthy behaviors in other people, but because of the stigma around mental health challenges, stay quiet. They’re embarrassed for the person, they’re embarrassed for themselves. They don’t know what to do. And if all of us who live a healthy lifestyle and who are managing well mental health challenges, called out and reached out to those who we see suffering, we will be able to help people sooner, more effectively, and avoid so many of the horrible things that we know happened in our profession and other professions.

Even to this day, even myself, as much as I know, I have to check myself when I find myself thinking about staying quiet when I see somebody acting in a way that I know is indicative of a mental health issue. I wouldn’t do that. If I saw someone clutching their chest and suffering from a heart attack, I would leap to their aid and shout for help. But when it comes to mental health, even I sometimes have to check myself and say, “Why aren’t you helping? Why aren’t you being proactive?” And all of us should be as proactive with mental health challenges as we are with physical health challenges that we see in our colleagues.

CHRIS:

Steve that’s awesome advice, and obviously I think an appropriate recipe for, again, what practice leaders, managing partners. I still remain convinced that that real systemic change within our profession will occur in the individual law firm culture. And if it doesn’t change there, it’s going to take a long time to get there, but it can certainly be accelerated by the steps of individuals like you, who bring that perspective about balance, reducing stigma. Certainly, we’re so grateful for what you do. Again, it’s the like, I could call you a silent hero, right? Because I think that you are the tectonic plates beneath the surface that I think ultimately need to occur for us to accelerate well-being in the profession. So we are just very thankful for you joining us on the podcast, sharing your story, alluding to the great work that Morgan Lewis is doing in this space. And thanks so much for joining us.

BREE:

Thank you.

STEVE:

Very grateful for the opportunity. Thank you both.

CHRIS:

All right. So we will be back in a couple of weeks, and our next guest on the podcast will be Paula Davis. She’s the founder and CEO of The Stress and Resilience Institute, and perfect timing for her as she’ll be coming on to preview her upcoming book release. Her book is entitled Beating Burnout At Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience. So we look forward to our next episode and welcoming Paula to the pod. Thanks again Steve. Thanks Bree. And be well advocates out there and continue to march forward as we work to improve our profession. Thanks for joining us.

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