Many law firms have been operating with a “post”-COVID mindset for quite some time now, but some are just now officially reopening their offices. For lawyers who have gotten used to the remote lifestyle that’s been emboldened by the ongoing pandemic, what they really want to know is how many times they’ll be required to return to the office each week. For one top firm that recently announced its return-to-office plans, the answer is they won’t.
Cooley — a firm that’s ranked at No. 19 in the 2021 Am Law 100, with $1,552,149,000 gross revenue in 2020 — released its reopening plans last week. The firm’s offices will be fully in play as of June 1, and all personnel must be vaccinated to set foot inside the doors. Perhaps most importantly, there is no in-office requirement for attorneys. That’s right, associates won’t have to return to their desks. The American Lawyer has some additional details from a memo sent by CEO Joe Conroy:
“At the core of our flexible approach is an acknowledgment that in the Cooley workplace of the future, one size will definitely not fit all. We will each have different perspectives, desires and unique life circumstances dictating our decisions around how much of our work life to conduct in the office,” Conroy wrote. But he underscored that Cooley “will not be a virtual law firm.” “Whether it is the morning greeting from our reception desk, the impromptu coffee run or the informal knowledge share across the hall, all of these moments have been missing from our lives. As we look toward the future, we will reimagine how we work together and how we interact with our workplaces, and our partners will lead by example,” Conroy wrote.
To us, Conroy’s messaging here seems to point to the fact that at some yet-to-be-determined point in the future, attorneys will be expected to make appearances at the office, but for the time being, those who are happy to work at home may continue to do so.
As soon as you find out about reopening plans at your firm, please email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Office Reopening”) or text us at (646) 820-8477. We always keep our sources on stories anonymous. There’s no need to send a memo (if one exists) using your firm email account; your personal email account is fine. If a memo has been circulated, please be sure to include it as proof; we like to post complete memos as a service to our readers. You can take a photo of the memo and attach as a picture if you are worried about metadata in a PDF or Word file. Thanks.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.