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THE MAGAZINE      May/June 2002
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THE INNOVATION ISSUE

Counselor, Heal Thyself

By Geoffrey Hargreaves-Heald

Assume that a law firm wasn’t constrained by precedent or internal politics and that money was no object. What truly innovative practice management activity would you love to see implemented?

The saddest fact about the "dissatisfaction in the law" pandemic, beyond its devastating effect on the profession, is that while ultimate responsibility for the cure rests squarely with each lawyer, few of us have a clue what the cure might be. Management needs to urgently coordinate nationwide financial and logistical support by law firms, law schools, bar associations and malpractice insurers. I hope that, in concert, we will achieve the following:

The profession will have a foundation whose purposes are to understand the multifaceted "illness" and to identify cures. What is needed are not palliatives, but a range of simple practices used right in the fire of the day, with the capacity to transform the individual’s professional life and, ultimately, the legal profession. I suspect that spiritual models (individually shaped to fit the sufferer) will provide the blueprint for many of the most successful of these practices.

The foundation will have a nonprofit arm to dispense its prescriptions through a specially trained faculty that will teach and then provide support through retreats, workplace seminars, audio and video presentations, teleconferences and an interactive Web site, as well as brief individual telephone and (as the technology improves) video interviews.

Management’s final role will be to encourage lawyers to take direct responsibility for healing themselves and their profession, beginning with the work of the nonprofit, and continuing on through the use of their own improved wisdom and resources.

Geoffrey Hargreaves-Heald (gh@nutter.com) is Of Counsel to the firm Nutter McClennen &Fish, LLP in Boston, in the Real Estate and Finance Department.

"Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells. Stress is not a good idea."

— RICHARD SAUNDERS