R. Lisle Baker
Professor of LawSend a Message
Before joining the faculty of Suffolk University Law School in 1973, he practiced law with the Boston firm of Hill & Barlow, as well as appeared on the Peabody Award-winning Public Broadcasting System (PBS) public debate series, The Advocates. Professor Baker has also been elected to twenty two-year terms on the Newton, Massachusetts, City Council, where he continues to serve as the Ward Councilor for Ward 7, and serves on the Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee. He graduated with honors from Williams College and Harvard Law School, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. At Suffolk, he has taught such subjects as Property; Negotiation; Law Practice Planning: Law as a Career and an Enterprise; Leadership and Character Strengths; Positive Psychology for Lawyers; Character and Fitness for Professional Success, and Preparing for Professional Success. He has published articles on such topics as character and fitness for leadership, designing a positive psychology course for lawyers, learning how to pay attention, delivering bad news well, educating lawyers for compassion and courage, how to become more physically active in a busy professional life, and using insights about perception and judgment as an aid to mediation, among others. In 2016, he earned a Master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, he convened conferences at Suffolk on Integrating Positive Psychology into Legal Education. He has served on a number of Bar Association Committees, most recently focused on lawyer well-being. He is also a member of the Legal Education Subcommittee appointed by the Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-being of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He was a principal author of A Guide to Law Student Wellness and Well-Being, At Suffolk, he has also served on and also Chaired the Law School’s Self-Study and Long-Range Planning Committee (which was principally responsible for the introduction of areas of concentration), the Building and Space Committee (which was principally responsible for the tiered classroom design in Sargent Hall, including installed technology), and the Ad Hoc Committee on Well-being and Professionalism (which recommended offering a pilot one-credit first year course on well-being, professionalism and inclusion, Preparing for Professional Success.) He also Chaired the University Strategic Planning Council, the precursor to the Faculty Senate, on which he has also served. He is also the first person to win the University-wide Suffolk University Award for Service (2019).
- Williams College, AB, cum laude with highest honors in history, Phi Beta kappa (1964)
- Harvard University, LLB, cum laude, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (1968)
- University of Pennsylvania, Master of Applied Positive Psychology (2016)
- Character and Fitness for Leadership: Educating Lawyers for Compassion and Courage as well as Brains: The Wizard of Oz was Right, 14 TENN. J. LAW & POLICY 287 (2020) (discussing pedagogical issues involved in educating lawyers in compassion and courage as well as critical thinking where all three are needed to succeed).
- Integrating Positive Psychology into Legal Education, 48 SOUTHWESTERN L. REV. 295 (2019) (summarizing national conferences on this topic held at Suffolk University Law School in 2017 and 2018 by organizing the participant presentations thematically around some of the important features of legal education (critical thinking, competition, independence, diligence, & professional values).
- Character and Fitness for Leadership: Learning Interpersonal Skills, 58 SANTA CLARA L. REV. 101 (2018) (arguing that the Bar admission requirement of “character and fitness” can also be an aspirational goal to help provide a rationale for leadership education in law school, and that as interpersonal skills are an important part of leadership learning, it is helpful for law students to learn how to pay better attention to other people, be aware of their and others’ strengths, and understand and acknowledge concerns that they and others have for appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status and a meaningful role).
- Designing a Positive Psychology Course for Lawyers, 51 SUFFOLK U. L. REV. 207 (2018) (describing how to help students take advantage of opportunities for more meaningful and ethical service, improved performance and well-being, and greater resilience in the face of challenges of the profession)
- Planning Your Career in Law Practice, 50 SUFFOLK U. L. REV. 1 (2017) (outlining the framework for work in the course: Law Practice Planning: Law as a Career and an Enterprise which helps students develop criteria for choosing a professional opportunity and then undertake a feasibility analysis of some of its economics, including a pro-forma cash flow statement).
- R. Lisle Baker, and Daniel P. Brown, Ph.D., On Engagement: Learning to Pay Attention 36 U. ARK. LITTLE ROCK L. REV. 348 (2014) (discussion of attention and how to develop it co-authored with a Harvard Medical School psychologist and professor).
- My Tree Versus Your Solar Collector or Your Well Versus My Septic System? -- Exploring Responses to Beneficial But Conflicting Neighboring Uses of Land, 37 B.C. ENVTL. AFF. L. REV. 1 (2010) (discussion of limits of conventional law of nuisance and the use of case law and informal norms as a guide to conflict resolution, including photographs of properties involved in conflict; selected for inclusion in the ZONING AND PLANNING LAW HANDBOOK, 2011 ED., Patricia Salkin, Editor.)
- Using Insights About Perception and Judgment from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Instrument as an Aid to Mediation, 9 HARV. NEGOT. L. REV. 115 (2004) (an analysis of how samples of the general public, lawyers, judges, and mediators compare in how they prefer to gain information and make decisions about it, and how mediator understanding of those different cognitive preferences can be an aid to the mediation of disputes).
- How the Teaching of Law Practice Management Courses in Law Schools Tends to Enhance Professional Competence and Legal Excellence, 40 J. LEGAL EDUC. 375 (1990) (winner of $3,000 prize in national essay competition on this subject sponsored by the Economics of Law Practice Section of the American Bar Association).
- Common Law Environmental Protection in Massachusetts, in McGregor, ed., MASSACHUSETTS ENVIRONMENTAL LAW (Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, 1991, & Supp. 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2019 and 2022) (discussion of non-regulatory remedies for environmental harm under Massachusetts law).
- R. Lisle Baker, Larry Richard, Ph.D. & Michael D. Matthews, Enhancing Attorney Resilience with Psychological Protective Gear, LAW PRACTICE TODAY (June-July, 2022) (examining how the military analogy of helmet, vest and boots can aid law student and lawyer resilience when challenges arise.)
- R. Lisle Baker & Carol-anne Hoffmann, Standing Up for Your Client or Sitting in Judgment: the Power of Posture, LAW PRACTICE TODAY (January, 2022) (examining how lawyers can enhance their well-being and performance by appropriate ergonomic practices and complementary physical exercise)
- Cultivating Wellness in Those Who Lead and Those Who are Led (2021)
- Emerging State Bench and Bar Resources for Attorney Well-Being, LAW PRACTICE TODAY (January, 2021) (examining different initiatives being undertaken throughout the United States, including an extensive appendix of resources to assist those interested).
- R. Lisle Baker and Anthony Colesano, Becoming More Physically Active in a Busy Professional Life, LAW PRACTICE TODAY (January, 2020) (discussing the importance of physical activity for well-being and performance as well as physical health, including a companion video of the co-authors demonstrating what is described).
- R. Lisle Baker and Jennifer List, Delivering Bad News Well, LAW PRACTICE TODAY (January, 2019): (discussing how to deliver bad news to clients and do it well, based on learning from a medical protocol devised by a Philadelphia pediatric palliative care physician having to inform parents that their children are unlikely to survive their illness.)
Honors and Awards
- Visiting Scholar, Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, 2021-22, 2022-23
- Suffolk University Award for Service (2019).