Confessions of a Legal Recruiter — Is Remote work Dead?
This is the second installment of a two part series offering insights into how law firms and attorneys are finding ways to work in the turbulent world of uncertainty.
Many law firms are telling their staff to report back in the office as COVID restrictions are eased. Morgan Stanley CLO, Eric Grossman said that the remote work model is not sustainable in the legal industry.
Firms are asking lawyers to come in at least three days a week starting in September. Having successfully navigated the remote work space, lawyers are pushing back. They simply don’t want to go back to the office full time.
The Great Resignation created record high job openings. Right now there are two openings for every lawyer looking for work. Law firms are faced with recruitment and retention challenges.
Competition for lawyers with a book of business is intense. Top pay is often not enough, legal recruiters are instructed to offer rainmakers flexible remote work schedules to sign on the best.
Is remote work dead?
For the past two quarters the economy has contracted, consequently the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates considerably. Since World War II there has never been an instance where the U.S. contracted in consecutive quarters without a recession occurring. Analysts are predicting that the economic downturn. This will result in layoffs — but experts are not predicting layoffs that occurred during The Great Recession of 2008.
An estimated 10,000 lawyers and thousands of staff lost their jobs in 2008. Since the Great Recession, firms have been become more lean and have made sure that partners have more skin in the firm’s financial holdings.
“During this downturn, lawyers are well advised to make a point of showing up at the office. While remote work may become the new normal down the road, it behooves most to ensure that they are not let go during this recession” — Shari Davidson, President On Balance Search Consultants.
Being on-site strengthens the office culture, there is truly no substitute to the in-person interactions gained from working with seasoned partners who have decades of experience and expertise.
Don’t underestimate the intangibles of being seen and heard at the office. Showing up at the office may very well insulate you from being let go when the firm needs to pair down staff.
Embracing hybrid work to retain and cultivate a diverse team.
Going forward law firms are well advised to make a hybrid model of in-office and remote work part of the new normal. Flextime helps lawyers efficiently manage their commuting time to the office and in-person court appearances.
There needs to be a balance that recognizes the value of collaboration, team work, productivity, mentoring and career advancement that can only be achieved on-site.
Offering remote work clearly empowers attorneys to realize their professional and personal aspirations. Law firms’ leadership need to recognize that hybrid work is perhaps the only way retain and recruit a diverse and gifted group of legal talent.
Be sure to read part one this two part series which offers insights into how law firms and attorneys are finding ways to work in the turbulent world of uncertainty.
As Remote Work Becomes Permanent, Can Manhattan Adapt? (NY Times)
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