Posted June 30th, 2021.
By Xiumei Dong
Law360 — Ahead of the firms’ fall office reopenings, Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP has rolled out plans for a tiered hybrid work model that offers senior attorneys more flexibility to work remotely, while Dentons LLP thinks that roughly three days a week in the office is the sweet spot.
Both firms have set September dates for requiring attorneys and staff to start coming back into the office and are instituting hybrid work models that allow for a mix of in-office and remote work, according to a Sanford Heisler memo obtained by Law360 Pulse on Wednesday and a Dentons confirmation of its reopening plans.
Civil rights firm Sanford Heisler announced earlier in the month that it is allowing its employees to come into the office on a voluntary basis until Sept. 9, the firm’s official reopening date. After that, it will begin to offer a hybrid work arrangement.
In a firmwide internal memo sent to employees on Tuesday and obtained by Law360 Pulse, Sanford Heisler’s chairman, David Sanford, said the firm is expecting attorneys who have practiced law for less than two years or who have been with the firm for less than one year must come into the office at least four days per week. These attorneys will have the option to work remotely either Monday or Friday, according to Sanford.
He noted that the same schedule will also apply to all legal assistants and other firm staff, as well as all managing partners.
Meanwhile, for attorneys who have practiced law for more than two years or who have been with the firm for at least one year, the firm only requires them to work in the office two to three days per week, Sanford said, but indicated there is a “strong preference” for them to come into the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as the mandatory day on Wednesdays.
“Specific case or firm needs may also require attorneys and staff to be present in the office on other days of any given week,” Sanford added. “Managing partners will maintain oversight of these requirements in their offices and will be available to address any questions or concerns.”
The firm is also giving all of its attorneys and staff the option to work fully remote for a total of two weeks during each calendar year, and extensions of remote work will also be considered but subject to the managing partner’s approval.
However, the firm also reserves the right to restrict or rescind the privilege of remote work if any employee fails to meet the expectation that they will be “available throughout the day and easily reachable by lawyers and staff” or who is unable to successfully work remotely.
Dentons, meanwhile, is encouraging employees to start returning to the office this summer and has marked the week of September 13 as when it will start requiring attorneys and staff to come in on a more regular basis. The firm has told partners, lawyers and business services professionals to plan on returning to the office “3-ish days a week,” though noted that the firm wants to have flexibility within that hybrid working framework to adjust as needed.
“We picked that week, the first full week after Labor Day, because hopefully most people will have kids back in school and can get back into the fall rhythm. We will be taking it one month at a time and will continue to adjust as needed, and what we are doing by Halloween, Thanksgiving, or the December holidays may look different than what we are doing after Labor Day,” the firm said in a statement to Law360 Pulse.
The firm said it has used responses from employee surveys about remote work and returning to the office to guide its policies.