Hybrid vs Remote vs In-Office Work in the Legal Industry

There is no doubt the pandemic made remote work and work from home a new normal for many legal professionals. Now that pandemic restrictions have eased, many law firms are still navigating the next step – whether to require employees to return to the office full-time, embrace remote work, or explore a hybrid workplace incorporating the two.

Where do law firms stand now? A study conducted by Bloomberg Law showed that 31% of attorneys surveyed reported complete flexibility to come into the office or work from home. Meanwhile, 31% are required to come to the office at least three times per week, and 12% were expected to be in the office full-time (Bloomberg). 

When it comes to preference, the Bloomberg study showed that 26% of the attorneys surveyed prefer to work remotely full-time. Twenty percent would like to go into the office two days per week, while only 15% prefer to be in the office full time (Bloomberg). Once again, some degree of flexibility – whether partly or fully remote – seems to be the overwhelming preference. 

Many organizations have changed their policies based on employee demands, while others have not. Those who are mandating a full-time return to the office may risk losing talent – especially younger generations – to employers who will offer flexibility. A study by the American Bar Association showed that 44% of lawyers who have practiced for 10 years or less would leave their job for another one that provides the opportunity to work remotely. By contrast, only 13% of lawyers practicing for 41 years or longer reported they would do the same. (Reuters) 

Both employees and leaders see value in returning to the office for human interaction, collaboration, building trust with face-to-face meetings, as well as mentorship and guiding new associates. However, employees also value flexibility and the other benefits that come with remote work. This is where hybrid – as opposed to exclusively in-office work – becomes a good solution. Hybrid work provides an added element of work-life balance for employees, including reduced commute times and improved management of home life. Productivity remains strong, while employees enjoy flexibility.

What’s the right answer when it comes to balancing these two sides? There is no “correct” answer and it may all come down to customized solutions based on the firm’s goals, budget, and taking into consideration everyone’s needs and preferences.

  • Questions to consider when deciding on your work model

    • Are you losing potential candidates because you are unwilling to consider remote work?   
    • Would your processes suffer because of remote work? If so, how?   
    • What can be done to alleviate this situation?   
    • What will bring the most benefits for the company in five years’ time?   
    • How can you change your processes or invest in the office environment?   

    Source: Forbes 

Stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Kristy Carbajal, Vice President of Adams & Martin Group, where she’ll discuss what she learned at the recent ACC Conference, including some shifting trends, attorney hiring, clearer differences between in-house and law firms when it comes to coming out of the pandemic and more.

If you have questions about the current landscape in legal hiring or need to hire attorneys, legal professionals, or document review teams, Adams & Martin Group can help. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your hiring challenges and upcoming plans.