Law firm, Quinn Emanuel, has announced a full remote work policy while other law firms have indicated a willingness to offer hybrid work accommodations especially for transactional attorneys. Without extenuating circumstances, like relocating for a spouses’/partner’s job, family health concerns, or lack of adequate childcare, law associates who are serious about progressing in the legal profession should think long and hard about working remotely full-time. The practice of law remains a service industry best practiced by people in concert and connection with other more skilled and experienced people. Lawyering skills, legal nuances and interpersonal relationships are developed and learned through observation, instruction and mentoring. At many law firms, associates compete for work and partners give work to those associates they know and trust. Business development, the lifeblood for the vast majority of partners and a critical skill for advancement to partnership is not accomplished remotely. When it comes time to promote new partners, partners are going to vote for those they know best. Finally, when the inevitable downturn comes, and it will come, and hard personnel choices are being made, do you want to be a living, social human being with an office full of pictures of kids and dogs or a 2-dimensional zoom image with a 9+ room rater score?
While remote work sounds comfy, associates interested in making partner and a long and successful legal career should get back in the office as soon and as much as possible.