HomeRemote WorkBig law firms thrive with hybrid office policies

Big law firms thrive with hybrid office policies


In the wake of the pandemic, big law firms have successfully transitioned from remote work to hybrid office attendance policies. Despite initial concerns, a recent survey by Thomson Reuters reveals that these policies have been embraced with enthusiasm by law firm employees. The survey, which included responses from over 350 employees across 100+ large law firms, sheds light on how these changes have impacted employee satisfaction and office engagement.

Survey highlights: Employee satisfaction and office attendance

According to the survey results, more than half (57%) of employees at large law firms are “satisfied” with their office attendance policies. Another 29% are “neutral,” leaving only 13% who are “not satisfied” with the mandates. This positive reception counters the initial concerns about strict return-to-office policies.

Bill Josten, Strategic Content Manager for Thomson Reuters, highlighted that many law firms are not enforcing full-time office attendance. Instead, they have adopted more flexible policies, allowing employees to find a balance that works for them. This approach has been well-received, with Josten noting that lawyers appreciate the balance these policies strike.

Increased in-office engagement

Interestingly, big law firms are seeing more in-office engagement than expected. While 71% of survey respondents reported that their firms require at least three days of office attendance per week, a surprising 46% of respondents chose to attend the office four or more days a week. This exceeds the requirement, indicating a higher level of comfort and acceptance of the hybrid model among employees.

Laura Terrell, an executive coach, and former Big Law partner, mentioned that the gradual transition and flexibility have played significant roles in this acceptance. Employees who had moved away from metro areas during the pandemic were given time to adjust, making the shift smoother.

Enforcement of attendance policies

Despite some firms threatening to withhold bonuses based on attendance, the majority of survey respondents (95%) reported that enforcement has been “passive” or “moderate.” Only 5% stated that their firms are “aggressively” enforcing in-office attendance. This lenient approach has likely contributed to the high levels of satisfaction and acceptance among employees.

The future of hybrid work in big law

Big law associates and partners seem to have accepted their new in-office routines. The survey suggests that any significant changes to the current hybrid work policies are unlikely, as such changes could disrupt the balance that employees have grown accustomed to.

In summary, big law firms have found a sweet spot with their hybrid office attendance policies. These policies offer flexibility and moderate enforcement, leading to high employee satisfaction and unexpected levels of office engagement. As firms and employees continue to navigate the post-pandemic world, the hybrid model appears to be a sustainable and effective approach for the legal industry.