Following his appointment to serve as chair of the Bass, Berry & Sims Employee Benefits Practice in October 2022, attorney Doug Dahl was profiled as part of Law.com’s “How I Made Practice Group Leader” series in which he shared insights on his career, lessons learned and his plans as practice chair in an in-depth Q&A.
When asked about what factors may have led to his appointment to lead the Employee Benefits Practice, Doug discussed the importance of leaders’ ability to bring people together, to communicate effectively and honestly, and to prioritize shared goals and experience over the individualistic approach. Along the same lines, he also addressed the importance of communication as a tool for business development – especially in a practice where the team is frequently explaining complicated and often counterintuitive rules in ways that make sense to potential clients. Another quality Doug emphasized is efficiency, which clients and prospective clients value from their legal counsel as opposed to “over-lawyering” their issues or projects. “I have a slight obsession with efficiency, so it is something I am always thinking about.”
Sticking with the theme of effective collaboration and communication, Doug’s advice to members interested in leading a practice group is “Think about ways that your practice group can excel as a team, not only how individual lawyers can excel and let that lead your decision-making and efforts. Support your colleagues as people first, then as lawyers.”
His advice to his younger self, would be to seek out people he respects and ask them to give him regular, constructive thoughts, even though it may be painful at times. “People who are willing to do that with intention and care are not easy to find,” he said. “I would encourage myself to try even harder.”
Looking at his additional contributions in his leadership capacity at Bass, Berry & Sims, Doug highlighted his service as an active member of the firm’s Working Parents Initiative, whose goal is to support working lawyers and professionals at the firm with policies and resources to help them succeed as parents. “We as a firm very much value the personal and civic pursuits of our people beyond their professional roles at the firm, so supporting working parents is a big priority for us.”
The full article, “How I Made Practice Group Leader: ‘Support Your Colleagues as People First, Then as Lawyers,’ Says Douglas Dahl of Bass, Berry & Sims,” was published on January 9 by Law.com and is available online.