When Joanna Litt sat down to write about the death of her husband, Gabe MacConail, a Sidley Austin partner who died by suicide in 2018, she couldn’t have known how far her words would reach. Her open letter, “Big Law Killed My Husband,” quickly spread across the legal industry and beyond, striking a nerve in a profession so often focused on billable hours and business development at the expense of attorney well-being and mental health.

Litt’s powerful words—and the overwhelming response to them—sparked an important conversation around the industry, inspired Law.com’s Minds Over Matters project, and led The American Lawyer to name her the 2019 Attorney of the Year at the annual American Lawyer Industry Awards in New York on Dec. 4. In her acceptance speech, Litt said, “I don’t expect to change an industry, but I know we can do better as individuals.”

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