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 John C. Trimble
The Pros and Cons of Remote Work for Lawyers: Questions for Law Firm Leaders
By: John Trimble
Anywhere that lawyers gather, the discussion usually turns to the future of the workplace. Managing partners, in particular, are concerned about productivity of their lawyers, utilization and leasing of space, technology, firm culture, and employee turnover. All of these concerns are impacted by the question of whether to continue to allow lawyers, paralegals, and staff to work remotely.
Many of us have seen major employers in the business world go completely virtual. Businesses are giving up or downsizing their offices. Technology is continually being adapted for virtual chatting, meeting, and remote access from anywhere. So, the question is whether this model of working can apply to law firms?
The short answer is that we know it can work.
However, I have learned that your view of this topic is influenced by your age and experience. More senior lawyers, in general, find greater comfort in the traditional law firm setting because that is what they know. I say “in general” because there are many senior lawyers who got a taste of retirement during COVID, and they loved working from Florida, France, a lake house, or the deck of a boat somewhere.
Younger lawyers, who have grown up with technology and a differing sense of work-life balance, have embraced virtual work more readily, and many would be happy to work remotely full time. Many of them see their counterparts in the business world working from the local coffee shop, and it has attraction to them.
Here are the questions that I hear from law firm leaders:
Will associates working remotely be able to engage in the internal relationship building and cross-marketing that they will need to become partners some day?
How will younger lawyers be mentored by more senior lawyers if they are not physically present in the office?
If law for young lawyers is akin to an apprenticeship, how will they get experiential learning from tagging along with partners and sitting in on client meetings?
Law Practice Management

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