Legal Law

High 20 Biglaw Agency Gained’t Make Attorneys Return To Workplace In 2021, However Vaccines Will Be Required

While some Biglaw firms have mandated that associates and staff members return to the office on a regular, everyday basis, others have simply put an end to the five-day, in-office workweek, encouraging employees to come to the office a few times a week, with no pressure for facetime. But what if your firm let you know that you didn’t have to go back to the office for the rest of the year?

That’s exactly what’s happening over at Cooley. In a memo sent earlier this week by Mark Pitchfield, the firm’s administrative and legal practice partner, he noted that thanks to the pandemic, the firm had “evolved to such a degree that our workplace of the future will be neither fully remote nor fully in person.” What does that mean for Cooley going forward? Here’s more from the memo:

Consistent with that evolution, for the balance of 2021 across our US offices, we will not institute a mandatory return date or require a minimum number of in-office days for those whose job duties permit remote work. For the remainder of this year, we welcome all whose personal circumstances and comfort levels permit to begin reacquainting yourselves with office life and with one another. With everyone’s health and well-being as our essential priority, and with the goal of making our workplaces as safe as reasonably possible, by Labor Day everyone working in or visiting one of our US offices must be fully vaccinated.

Cooley associates need not return to the office anytime this year, but the firm expects that anyone who plans to go back to the office be vaccinated. We’re noticing a trend here that more and more firms are expecting employees to be vaccinated before returning to the office. Will your firm be mandating the vaccine for all?

Getting back to Cooley’s “reopening” in name only…

We will remain a workplace for the future, characterized by trust, support and agility – a place that best suits our people, our clients and our culture. To those ends, we are committed to staying on the leading edge of creativity and flexibility while ensuring our ability to deliver world-class legal services. Given this, and the fact that we must remain vigilant about our health and well-being, now is not the time to delineate precisely what the post-pandemic work environment will look like. We will, of course, provide more information about 2022 closer to the end of this year.

Kudos to Cooley for recognizing that things are still up in the air when it comes to the pandemic, and for realizing that the firm should not let all the lessons learned during their time away from the office go to waste. We look forward to seeing what the firm’s hybrid office policy looks like in 2022.

What has your firm announced as far as a reopening plan is concerned? The more information is out there, the more likely it is that firms will be able to establish a market standard for a return to the office.

As soon as you find out about the reopening plan 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 ZaretskyStaci 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.

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