As a South Florida legal recruiter for over 30 years, I’m used to the uncomfortable discussions surrounding talent hiring and retention. It takes thick skin to be a recruiter and even thicker skin to advocate for increased mental health awareness in the legal community.
Objections about a lawyer’s career pale in comparison to the objections I hear when I talk about mental health. People have an uncanny ability to amaze and offend simultaneously, usually from a place of benevolent ignorance. Here’s an extreme example: A managing partner told me that “if we know someone has a problem, we have to fix it, but if we don’t, we’re not responsible.” Their willful blindness aside, the essence of the argument was that if a firm had a lawyer abusing alcohol, overcharging files, missing deadlines, and creating a significant risk of malpractice, but that was under the radar, everything was fine. Such denial and ignorance are powerful and, at the same time, potentially catastrophic.
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