Dentons appoints chief mindfulness officer to roll out wellbeing programme


Global law firm Dentons, which employs 17,500 people worldwide, has appointed a Europe chief mindfulness officer, to take responsibility for rolling out its wellbeing programme, NextMind, as well as to train in-house mindfulness ambassadors.

Dentons has appointed Karina Furga-Dabrowska, partner in the tax and life sciences division. In this newly created role, Furga-Dabrowska will liaise with Dentons’ talent team to run organisation-wide mindfulness initiatives, as well as to train a network of in-house mindfulness ambassadors.

Furga-Dabrowska will also take responsibility for rolling out the organisation’s wellbeing programme, NextMind, which was piloted in autumn 2018 with 60 employees across its Europe offices.

The NextMind programme, which is based on the principles of neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology, uses regular mindfulness meditation sessions to develop core elements of emotional intelligence, such as self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, social skills and empathy.

Introductory workshops are followed by an eight-week training programme, designed by Furga-Dabrowska and the Kalapa Leadership Academy, where staff can learn how to incorporate mindfulness practices into their daily work. Employees will also learn about the neuroscientific aspects of long-term stress, the psychological impacts of perfectionism, the consequences of cognitive bias and the potential dangers of multi-tasking.

At the conclusion of the NextMind pilot in December 2018, participants reported a reduction in stress of almost a third, while 75% saw improvements in their social wellbeing and 18% had bettered their emotional wellbeing.

These results led to NextMind becoming part of Dentons’ global NextTalent initiative, which aims to develop greater emotional intelligence and resilience among its worldwide workforce. Around 500 employees have participated in introductory mindfulness workshops to date.

Furga-Dabrowska has completed a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy teacher training programme in the US, and is currently enrolled in a similar training course at Oxford University. She has further completed two teacher training courses designed for non-clinical settings.

Karina Furga-Dabrowska, Europe chief mindfulness officer at Dentons, said: “Mindfulness is simply about exercising [the] 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.

“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 programme 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 mind set and greater team cohesion to drive productivity and innovation.”

Richard Singer, Europe chief managing officer at Dentons, added: “Recognising the health and productivity benefits that mindfulness can bring to an organisation, innovative global [technology] 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.”