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Hogan Lovells has pledged to examine its policies and procedures around workplace stress and mental health in the wake of the death of IP partner David Latham earlier this year.
The inquest into Latham’s death opened yesterday (12 September) at Westminster Coroner’s Court. The Hogan Lovells partner threw himself under a tube train on 15 February this year. According to reports, his wife Gilly Webb told the court today that her husband had felt “unsupported” at work.
The firm has stated that mental health will be a key focus for the future. A spokesperson said: “We also 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”.
However, it is understood that stress management and mental health are not included in the partner induction process.
Hogan Lovells IP partner Nicholas Macfarlane also gave evidence at the hearing.
In a statement at the time of Latham’s death, Hogan Lovells said: “David was one of life’s true gentlemen. He had good sense, good principles and a good heart and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Latham joined legacy Lovells firm Durrant Piesse in 1986 as an associate and was promoted to partner in 1988.
His reported cases included advising Mattel on a cross-border trademark dispute relating to the Scrabble brand. Latham’s clients included Mars, Kraft, British American Tobacco and SABMiller.
In September 2009 Herbert Smith (now Herbert Smith Freehills) launched an internal training programme to help its staff recognise the symptoms of stress and deal with mental illness (28 September 2009).
The firm’s then-global head of diversity and inclusion Carolyn Lee said: “Many corporations shy away from the topic of stress and mental illness because they don’t want to be seen as a stressful place to work, but we wanted to address the situation because we feel it’s important.”