Ensuring the well-being of your team in a high-level, holistic manner.

CCBJ: Tell us about your role as Director of Health and Well-Being at Akin Gump.

Kimm Merkel: At Akin Gump, we believe that benefits play an integral part in a person’s ability to manage work and life outside the office. We have a team mantra that says it’s important to meet people where they are. Individual needs differ so greatly, so it can be a challenge, but it does guide us in our programming, as well as how I approach my responsibilities. We focus on providing high-quality, competitive programs that arm each individual with resources so that they can make informed decisions.

That covers traditional benefits, like medical, dental and vision, but over the last number of years, it’s also been coupled with a strong focus on well-being, which at Akin Gump is defined as one’s physical, mental, financial and social/community health. We must be balanced in each of these respects, or we could potentially suffer in all of them. For example, if we are struggling with our finances, stressing and worrying about money, that can take a mental or physical toll on a person, and it could
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‘Tis the season when top in-house legal officers get a taste of what outside counsel go through every year when the Am Law 100 is published. There it is for all the world to see: “What’s in your wallet?” That’s because summer is the season when ALM, publisher of The American Lawyer, and the Association of Corporate Counsel drop their annual compensation reports on inside and outside counsel.
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All this talk of in-house megabucks brings to mind the plight of Stephen R. Williams. Williams works in-house – and all hours – with a multi-facility hospital network in the Midwest. He also writes a column, in what little spare time he has, for Above the Law. This summer, Williams let off a little steam in a nifty rant about comp – his comp – which is in white-shoe territory – assuming those shoes are on the feet of a hospital orderly.
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Today’s headlines point to why it is critical to review and strengthen company harassment programs.

In the current climate of #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement, many employers are scrambling to answer a variety of questions relating to harassment in the workplace. Chief among these are what’s changed, and what changes do we need to make now?
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