King and Wood Mallesons is a global, top-tier law firm. We've got over 2,700 lawyers and here in our Sydney office, we've got about 650 staff. Our clients range from big multinational organisations to regional and local businesses.
I'm Vicki Irvine, mobility and wellbeing manager here. The thing I love most about my job is I'm just so passionate about making a difference within the profession. On a typical day, one of our lawyers might be spending a lot of hours drafting documents, spending time speaking with clients, understanding their businesses, trying to help them solve their problems.
It's when you're working on big transactions and the banks are involved and the clients say they need something by 9 o'clock the next morning, so teams will work through the night to get that done. And that's what our clients expect. I think we're a top-tier firm, so we attract top talent.
And when you get a lot of people like that in an environment together, they're very competitive. Stress is a big issue for us, so it's around managing their stress. Lawyers thrive when they're really busy, and they're working on a big deal. So a stressed lawyer can be because they don't have enough work.
We try and encourage them that when things are a bit quiet, to go home early, connect with your friends so that you build your resilience and to stay socially connected. I think statistics show that lawyers are four times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than the general population. But I think that it comes back to as well the type of people that are attracted to the law. Lawyers tend to be high achievers, perfectionists, very driven. There's been that reluctance to say "I'm not travelling so well."
Resilience@law was a collaboration between the top-tier law firms to take a leadership role in raising awareness in education around the impact of stress, depression and anxiety across the legal profession. We then looked at producing a DVD just to speak about their mental health experience. It made it okay to say "I've got a mental health concern." And that's been the start of a major cultural change.
Within the first six weeks of showing that DVD, we had 36 new calls to our EAP provider, which was huge because in the legal profession EAP is very underutilised. The two big initiatives that we did last year was one was our well-being officer initiative and the other one was we created a training program with our rehab provider, called Managing Mental Health in the Workplace.
We hosted those training sessions around Australia, and invited all the other top-tier and mid-tier firms to attend. It showed them when somebody comes to you with a mental health concern, what do you do with that? Showing them how to recognise that, how to respond to it. So the main focus for me is getting our HR teams to refer it to a rehab provider, and we're one of the few organisations that actually engages a rehab provider to help us deal with those mental health concerns.
Mental health has always had a stigma attached to it right across the community, and I think the great work by SANE Australia and Beyond Blue has helped make a big difference in that area. And I think Resilience@law has made a big difference in the stigma within the legal profession, that it's now okay to talk about mental health. People don't take so much time off work anymore. People are not getting to the stage where they're broken and they can't continue, they're managing their mental health upfront. So they don't actually get to that place where they're depressed. They're coming to us early, and we can help them.
Lawyers are our key assets. If we don't have lawyers, we don't have clients. So we need to make sure that people look after themselves and invest in their health and well-being, so that they're productive and generating revenue for the firm and looking after our clients.