On an almost daily basis, there are articles on whether large law firms will require attorneys to return to the office in September. Remote work ameliorates the perceived ills of working at large law firms, dampening lateral movement and contributing to the current tightly constrained legal job market. “Return to work” policies will open the flood gates in associate movement. Much like when law firms recently raised associates’ salaries to retain and attract legal talent, law firms will now be forced to offer a variety of remote work benefits to compete for associates. Short term.
During the first tech stock bubble in the late 1990s, Wall Street investment bankers eschewed their beloved pinstripe suits and wingtips for jeans and flip flops in an effort to curry favor with the young west coast tech titans and secure the next mega IPO. Institutional trading desks followed the lead and summer casual Friday became the daily norm. When the bubble burst and profits nose-dived in the early 2000s, guess what happened? The suits and ties went back on.
So, the July 16th article in Bloomberg entitled “Morgan Stanley Top Lawyer Demands Law Firms Return to Office” bears reading and watching.
Eric Grossman, chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley, sent a memo Thursday to law firms and legal service providers encouraging them to improve client service by having lawyers and employees return to the office, according to a company official. Grossman’s memo suggested that those continuing to operate remotely risk their relationship with the financial services giant.
Bottom line, if the clients demand it and profits per partner begin to suffer, remote work will quickly become a thing of the past.
But in the meantime, if you are contemplating a lateral move, a savvy local legal recruiter will be able to help sort out which firms’ philosophies, benefits, and policies best align with your legal career goals.