Diversity, Inclusion and Well Being in the Life Sciences Bar: Ethical Considerations in Building a Better Life Sciences Legal Community

February 25, 2015 2:00pm

Lisa L. Mueller
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP (Chicago, IL)

George Ng
Senior Vice President & General Counsel
BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc.

Marianne Slivkova
Director – Legal
Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (Ardsley, NY)

In this session, our esteemed panel will explore the challenges and opportunities for in-house and law firm retention of diverse talent and how the bar as a whole will benefit by having a diverse group comprised of individuals of different races, genders, sexual orientations, and generations, with a wealth of perspectives and personal experience. Topics to be discussed will include:

  • Taking a look at the current statistics of diverse representation in executive positions at life sciences companies and in leadership positions at law firms
    • Keeping up morale in the face of a reputed “old boys’ club” and pay gap
    • Getting a seat at the table: increasing the prominence of diversity in power positions in the life sciences world
  • Designing and implementing sustainable policies and procedures that will truly effect change and promote a diverse workforce
    • What recruitment, retention, and advancement initiatives are working and which are merely academic?
    • Advocating for diversity and inclusion policies and procedures at your company and firm
    • Staying respectful of non-traditional family structures
  • Identifying actions and solutions that can help overcome stereotypes and implicit and explicit bias in law firms and companies
  • Fostering relationships with colleagues to work towards a mutually respectful and beneficial working relationship
  • Rainmaking and business development
  • Communication strategies for leaders: “bossy” does not need to be a bad thing
  • In-house perspective: Understanding how much diversity matters when vetting and choosing law firm counsel

Spotlight on Law Firm Culture and the Lawyers’ Epidemic”: Substance Abuse, Depression and Suicide

Work related stress in the high-stakes life sciences legal community is more intense then ever, with clients and colleagues having virtually 24/7 access to attorneys through technology. Perhaps as a result of job pressures and a quest for perfectionism at all costs, the statistics show that lawyers are more than twice as likely than other professions to suffer from substance abuse and depression. In this session, our leaders will discuss the high incidence of depression and substance abuse in the legal profession and solutions for best helping our peers facing these challenges.

  • Understanding the nexus between substance abuse and character and fitness to practice law
    • Encouraging attorneys to seek help and minimizing stigma
    • When is the duty to report another attorney’s mental health or substance abuse triggered?
  • The physiology of addiction and depression: a clinical look
  • Strategies for coping and cultivating a full and healthy life outside the office while balancing the intensive commitment of a life sciences legal career and 24/7 availability through technology
    • Participating in social events, often involving alcohol, without overdoing it
    • Understanding the benefits of meditation, yoga, and exercise
    • Putting an effective support system in place to lighten the load
  • Overcoming any hesitation to take advantage of corporate policies promoting work life balance and encouraging mental well being
  • Walking away from professional and personal guilt in the quest for perfection and learning to be okay when you can’t give 110% on every front