Lawyer Wellness

Kirkland & Ellis hires director of well-being and plans apps to help increase resilience

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A lawyer who is also a licensed clinical professional counselor is the new firmwide director of well-being at Kirkland & Ellis.

The new hire is Robin Belleau, the former executive director of the Lawyers’ Assistance Program in Illinois, according to a press release and stories by the American Lawyer and Bloomberg. She’s also a member of the advisory committee of the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs.

Kirkland’s program will focus on resilience, connection, fitness and nutrition.

As part of the program, Kirkland plans to launch two apps to help reduce stress, increase resilience and support better choices in connection with addictive behaviors and substance abuse.

The firm is also planning a CLE presentation called “Strength Under Stress,” Belleau told the American Lawyer in an interview.

Belleau told the American Lawyer that stress that comes with practicing law is a challenge.

Robin Belleau. Photo from the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

“Being in an adversarial position throughout the day, it really creates a negative mindset, which can affect your mental health and physical health,” she said. “Oftentimes people aren’t necessarily aware of that, and they let it bleed over into their personal lives and into the rest of their day.”

The adversarial nature of law practice creates stress, anxiety and depression, and “that is the biggest roadblock to achieving mental well-being,” she said.

Kirkland’s announcement follows Morgan Lewis’ March announcement that it hired a director of well-being. The Kirkland press release said the firm is “one of the first” in BigLaw to start a well-being program working with lawyers on issues related to mental health and substance abuse.

Bloomberg noted other law firm efforts. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has an on-site counselor at its Washington, D.C., offices for therapy programs once per week. Hogan Lovells also has had on-site psychologists available at a few of its offices for several years, according to Bloomberg.

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