Esoteric Message Sign of the Month

D&LAnd the winner is … Bernard Health, a Nashville-based insurance advisory firm with three locations in town (as well as a couple in Ohio and Indiana). That message in the photo is on the streetside sign at their retail location at the intersection of Harding Pike and White Bridge Road. Will many, or even any, of the throngs of Nashville drivers who pass through this busy intersection grasp the semi-arcane “Dewey & Leboeuf” reference?

Indeed the lawyers might. Dewey & Lebeof is the largest U.S. law firm ever to collapse into bankruptcy. The New York headquartered firm, which once had 1,400 attorneys, went Chapter 11 back in mid 2012. Just yesterday the Manhattan D.A. unsealed a 106-count indictment charging four key D&L leaders with grand larceny, securities fraud and falsifying business records. (The New Yorker ran a terrific piece by top-flight business journalist James B. Stewart last October chronicling the firm’s downfall.)

So the sign on Harding: How does Bernard Health’s braintrust imagine that it can drum up some business advising lawyers on health insurance by warning them not to mimic the most spectacular law firm failure in U.S. history? I posed that question to Ruthie Dean, Director of Communications at Bernard. She told me that while there wasn’t an insurance angle to D&L’s debacle, Bernard is trying to get lawyers to ponder the intersection of healthcare and mismanagement. Law firms, it turns out, are charged more by insurance companies for group health plans — often much more, according to Dean, who says it’s “because lawyers are categorized as high utilizers of healthcare.” Dean says it often makes sense for smaller law firms to drop the group plan and let their people buy insurance on the individual market, where they can’t be penalized just for being lawyers. (Although they can be mocked, I’m assured by other sources.)

Will lawyers tooling down Harding Pike recognize health insurance advisory services as the way to avert mismanagement and bankruptcy and scandal and prison? Hard to know, but props to Bernard Health for giving it a shot via a creative (if esoteric) use of the message board. Do lawyers utilize healthcare more because as a group they are hypochondriacs? We’ll leave that one for another day.

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.

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