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What's In A Name?

Competence, (like the name Montague) is not something one can simply declare and leave unexamined-- the Bard knew better, and so should we (See, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II).

Is competence difficult to grasp or define? Is it a quality that can change, depending upon facts and circumstances? Does it fluctuate from one moment to the next? Yes, yes and yes-- but that's no excuse for failing to recognize its critical importance, and struggling to encourage it in both ourselves, and in others.

Shakespeare wrote an entire play about just such a thing (i.e., the love between a Capulet and a Montague) so surely, the subject of something like lawyer competence is deserving of this blog's scrutiny and the attention of the legal profession. Complications and unpredictable consequences make for good viewing-- and good thinking.

For leaders in the legal profession, however, the question might be more accurately framed as: Do complications and unpredictable consequences make for good business? After thinking a lot about the connection between lawyer wellbeing and professional competence my conclusion is, unquestionably, "yes".

Some firms have reached consensus and begun to test the hypothesis, but the overwhelming majority have not. The explanations are as varied as the number of firms in question, but the end result is near unanimous-- although firms remain committed to the notion of professional competence, their effort to encourage or cultivate it through meaningful wellbeing initiatives, is sorely lacking.

A wellbeing initiative by another name could very well be labelled a professional competence initiative-- call it what one will. The name is not nearly as important as the fact that it exists!


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