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Law Firms Are Headed To Hybrid Office, Remote Work Future

Law 360 Pulse – As the COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the country, many law firm leaders have begun to plot their office returns. But with lawyers and staff now used to the benefits of working from home, many firms are considering a long-term shift to a hybrid model that allows for both in-office and remote work. U.K. law firms seem to be leading the way, with Linklaters LLP last summer announcing a new global “agile working policy” to allow employees to work remotely up to half of the time. Others that have made similar moves included Norton Rose Fulbright, Taylor Wessing LLP, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Allen & Overy LLP. Taylor Wessing and Freshfields have only implemented the policy for their U.K. workforces. Few U.S. firms have done the same, and those that have are experimenting in their offices abroad first. Squire Patton Boggs LLP implemented a six-month trial to allow its U.K. employees to work remotely up to half of the time. DLA Piper, meanwhile, drew up a plan to allow all its people outside the U.S., including partners, to work two days a week from home. The hybrid plan implemented in the U.K. does offer a framework for the U.S. offices. Bob Bratt, DLA Piper’s chief operating officer, told Law360 Pulse in a statement his firm is still evaluating and drafting policy for its U.S. employees. “It will give both our attorneys and staff some flexibility regarding remote working,” he said. Meanwhile, Allen & Overy has applied its new hybrid work policy to all of its attorneys and staff worldwide. “Watching the firm move to entirely virtual working almost overnight with really not a lot of advance warning and preparation time, I think it’s surprised everybody how smoothly that went,” Allen & Overy U.S. Senior Partner Tim House told Law360 Pulse. “It’s caused us over the whole period to really reflect on what is the best way to have people combined together in order to continue to serve the client’s needs,” House said. “And no client has shown any concern about the service levels.” Like many other firms, House said Allen & Overy conducted surveys asking how their employees would like to work in the future, how they managed the remote working environment, and other questions on concerns such as wellness, mental health and technological support for home offices. As a result, the firm concluded that “a good balance” would be allowing its attorneys and staff to work remotely 40% of the time while expecting 60% of work to be done in its own or others’ offices on average…”

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