Mind How You Go: Dentons appoints a “mindfulness” chief to help boost wellbeing

August 30, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Global law firm Dentons has appointed a “chief mindfulness officer” to teach its employees about stress-management, perfectionism and the problems associated with multitasking.

What does this mean?

This week, Dentons appointed Karina Furga-Dabrowska to her new role where she will implement her “NextMind” training programme. This programme is designed to promote regular mindfulness meditation sessions for Dentons staff. Using techniques like breathing meditation, the programme is designed to develop the lawyers’ emotional intelligence, reduce their stress, improve their well-being, and develop their empathy and self-awareness. The course also introduces solicitors to exercises that they can do before meetings or when responding to emails.

Why should law firms care?

It’s no secret that lawyers are regularly affected by the stress of the job, due to the long hours and the pressurised work environment. In fact, welfare charity LawCare cites stress as “by far the most common reason for calls to [its] helpline.” So it’s clear why firms are starting to take this issue seriously.

Dentons’ NextMind programme is based on principles of neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology and was designed by Karina Furga-Dabrowska (a partner in Dentons’ tax division) and the Kalapa Leadership Academy (a company which gives mindfulness training courses). When the scheme was piloted last year across the firm’s European offices, participants reported that they were feeling less stressed and felt that their emotional and social wellbeing had improved.

While other global companies such as Google and IBM have incorporated similar schemes for their employees, Dentons is the first global law firm to create such a role and initiate a wellbeing programme. Furga-Dabrowska said that “neuroscientific research shows that regular mindfulness practice improves resilience, communication, productivity and wellbeing, which are not only beneficial for our people, but also for our bottom line.” With mindfulness programmes leading to productivity benefits for the employer, it is clear to see how law firms could perceive it as a win-win for them and their staff. While combatting one of the most severe causes for workplace illness and focussing on the wellbeing of its staff, a company would also benefit from the productivity gains associated with happy, stress-free employees.

With the issues of work-life balance coming to the forefront of the career conversation, legal talent could respond to initiatives such as Dentons’ NextMind. The benefits for employees have been evidenced throughout the trial which showed a reduction in stress of almost a third. The benefits for the employer are apparent through the increased productivity of healthy staff. As significant evidence already exists supporting the link between mental wellbeing at work and productivity, it won’t be long before schemes like this are emulated across other global law firms.

Report written by Idin Sabahipour

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