Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, has appointed partner Karina Furga-Dabrowska [based in Poland] as Europe Chief Mindfulness Officer. The appointment reflects her groundbreaking work in launching Dentons’ NextMind program, which helps the Firm’s lawyers and professionals to reduce stress, improve well-being, and develop emotional intelligence through mindfulness techniques.

Relying on principles of neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology, NextMind uses regular mindfulness meditation to develop core elements of emotional intelligence, such as self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, social skills and empathy. The program starts with introductory workshops to allow novices to experience mindfulness first hand. It then progresses to a full eight-week training program, designed by Furga-Dabrowska in collaboration with the Kalapa Leadership Academy, where participants begin incorporating mindfulness practice into their daily work. They also learn about the neuroscientific aspects of long-term stress, psychological pitfalls of perfectionism, consequences of cognitive bias, and the dangers of multi-tasking.

Participants in the pilot NextMind program reported a reduction in stress of almost one-third, a 75% improvement in social wellbeing, and an 18% improvement in emotional wellbeing. Following the success of this program, mindfulness has become a cornerstone of Dentons’ global NextTalent program to develop greater emotional intelligence and resilience among its people worldwide.

The NextMind project initiated and implemented by Karina Furga-Dabrowska won the “Best innovative solutions in law firms” category in Rzeczpospolita’s annual legal ranking of law firms and has recently been shortlisted for the FT Innovative Lawyers Europe Awards 2019 in the “managing and developing talent” category.

In her new role, Furga-Dabrowska will work with Dentons’ Talent team and a network of trained in-house mindfulness ambassadors, to roll out NextMind more widely across the Firm’s offices in Europe and globally and will lead various other mindfulness initiatives within the firm.

“Mindfulness is simply about exercising your mind to improve cognitive ability and mental clarity. 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,” said Karina Furga-Dabrowska. “My goal as Europe Chief Mindfulness Officer is to make mindfulness an integral part of Dentons’ vision to be always the law firm of the future and to contribute to our global NextTalent program by developing essential skills of the lawyer of the future. I want to nurture a culture in which high performance is founded on compassionate leadership, authenticity, honesty and respect. I will also strive to promote a growth mindset and greater team cohesion to drive productivity and innovation.”

Furga-Dabrowska has been a lawyer in Dentons‘ Tax and Life Sciences groups since 2006, and a partner since 2008. In addition to her legal practice, she has completed a Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) teacher training in the US, and is currently enrolled in the MBCT MSt course at the Oxford University. She has also completed two teacher training programs designed for non-clinical settings – “Mindfulness in the Workplace” and “Mindfulness – Finding Peace in a Frantic World” – at the Oxford Mindfulness Center.

“Recognizing the health and productivity benefits that mindfulness can bring to an organization, innovative global tech giants, such as Google, IBM and SAP, have appointed Chief Mindfulness Officers, but Dentons is the first global law firm to create this role. This is an example of how we are taking best practices from other sectors to bring innovative solutions to the practice of law,” said Richard Singer, Europe Chief Managing Officer at Dentons.

[Source: Dentons official announcement]