For decades, lawyers who worked in BigLaw could expect some version of the following: Work long hours, including nights and weekends, with minimal free time, giving up almost all semblances of a social life. The reward: money and a potential partnership. And if you didn’t like it, there was the door. And if you were having mental health or wellness issues, then suck it up and deal with it.
Whether it was the idea that stress was just part of the job or that taking time out for your wellness was either a sign of weakness or lack of productivity, the legal industry has not always made mental well-being a priority. Some law firms are trying to change that. One such firm is O’Melveny & Myers.
The firm has made wellness a top priority for its lawyers. In 2019, it launched the “Living Well” program that focuses on mental, physical, nutritional, social and spiritual well-being. The program looks to help lawyers and staff reduce stress; focus on personal resilience and financial health; and if necessary, address addiction and substance abuse.
Led by George C. Demos, the chief operating officer at O’Melveny, the program got a boost in February, when the firm hired its first full-time director of well-being.
In this episode of the Legal Rebels Podcast, Demos talks with the ABA Journal’ Victor Li about his firm’s wellness program, as well as ongoing efforts within the legal industry to address mental health and well-being—an issue that is personal for him.