“The firm is actively looking at how to give support to stressed lawyers,” firm partner Nicholas MacFarlane reportedly said at in inquest into the suicide of 58-year-old David Latham.
Latham jumped in front of a train in February of this year, a day after he told a colleague he was going to kill himself, according to the Daily Mail. The fellow partner didn’t think he was serious, though.
Gillian Webb, Latham’s wife, told the Westminster Coroner’s Court her husband had been consumed with worry about a big case at work. Latham hadn’t slept well for weeks, she told the court. He kept getting calls from work the night before his suicide while the two were sharing a Valentine’s Day meal, she reportedly said.
“If a person shows the signs as David clearly had, they should have put something in place to prevent such tragedies,” she reportedly told the court.
A Hogan Lovells spokesperson gave this statement to The Lawyer:
We … have regular interactive talks on health related topic, recent examples include managing your mental health, dealing with stress/developing resilience, sleep, diet and exercise. These events are well attended and appear to be valued by staff and partners alike … Even before these events we were looking at what we provide in terms of support to everyone in the firm and that work continues.
While it’s impossible to know what was going on in Latham’s life, lawyers have an unusually high rate of suicide and depression. Many lawyers tend to be perfectionists, psychologist Tyger Latham has pointed out.
“While this characteristic is not unique to the legal profession — nor is it necessarily a bad thing — when rigidly applied, it can be problematic,” Latham wrote.
In America, people David Latham’s age — between 50 and 60 — have had a huge spike in suicides in the past decade.
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