The confusion and missed deadlines for the reopening of law firms has created continuing uncertainty for lawyers everywhere. The default setting for many law firms remains as working from home and telecommuting, but as the pandemic continues many firms remain hesitant about widespread office re-openings.
In the United States, various firms have made various promises about when they will open their doors, but rescheduled dates are more common place than an actual opening.
A recent report from Reuters reported that Ropes & Gray had pushed its reopening back without setting a new date. They are, however, providing breakfast and lunch for those who come in to the office.
Silicon Valley-founded Cooley has said that it is not expecting its US attorneys and staff to return to the office until 2022 and it would seem that such plans will be put into place by several firms. Similarly the firms like Cooley – who have 11 offices in the US – are expecting any lawyers and staff returning to be fulling vaccinated.
The firm will continue its ‘hybrid approach’ of working remotely.
“Essentially, we have evolved to such a degree that our workplace of the future will be neither fully remote nor fully in person,” Pitchford wrote.
With school re-openings, firms are attempting to accomodate the various requirements upon families to ensure they can get routines sorted and work practices back to something approaching normality, but continued vaccination issues among other things throws such planning into the realm of uncertainty.
In the US, as the pandemic continues to sweep the country, the suggested open dates have been pushed back during September while a number of firms have not made any reopening commitment, telling employees that they will set a 30 day notice period prior to doing so.
UK Law Firms
In the UK there has been similar uncertainty despite the fact that restrictions have been relaxed.
Since the July 2021, there have been no restrictions on contact with others and the official government guidance regarding working at home was removed, which has permitted many law firms to re-open but the return to work has been gradual.
US-based Morrison & Foerster has been the first firm in the UK to mandate that those returning to work in the office must be fully vaccinated.
Other firms have taken a strict approach towards vaccination, but not to the extent that MoFo has. However, there is little doubt that other firms will adopt a similar strategy.
However mid September has seen many law firms achieve a greater degree of normality with re-openings but with the important change to law management in the 2020s – the embracing of the hybrid model.
With lawyers working from home the necessity to achieve a better sense of how firms will operate in future has seen a marked shift towards adopting the hybrid approach with better work-life balance as well as overall flexibility in the way law work is conducted.