Telecommuting Policies For Associates, A Radical Change For Legal Profession

By Nethani Palmani | Apr 03, 2017 11:23 AM EDT

Collaboration is a big part probably of practicing law, certainly with things like litigation and deal-making. And it is likely one much-needed element in telecommuting policies. (Photo : Carl Court / Getty Images)

Two large law firms, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Jackson Lewis, have announced telecommuting policies for associates in the past month. The two firms are among a handful of large law firms that have made a similar move, which is somewhat a radical change for the legal profession.

Morgan Lewis is providing computer hardware for lawyers to work from home two days a week, while Jackson Lewis is allowing associates to work from home as needed. With regard to the telecommuting policies, the ABA Journal has talked to Sara Sutton Fell, the founder of telecommuting-focused career website FlexJobs, about lawyers working remotely.

When asked about the importance of face-time seems to some lawyers, Fell explained that there's a real falsehood and "a lazy management reliance on face-time" as it doesn't actually measure productivity. She said that many lawyers and people in the legal sphere are already doing work remotely from their phones or laptops at home, and even while they travel.

Fell then highlighted the baseline to acknowledge and realize that managers need to be really evolving how they assess the key performance indicators for productivity amongst their lawyers. Although the managers may choose to be proactive in this, staying in regular communication with their in-office coworkers or manager is fundamental.

Fell also noted that law firms need to be working with their IT department closely, to make sure that remote workers under the telecommuting policies know the appropriate protocols and the corporate settings in the cloud they are working in. This is especially vital for law firms because of the volume of information and sensitive information that is available in the cloud.

The most important thing that Fell is likely conveying is the win-win-win situation telecommuting policies offer, according to IndaLaw. While lawyers greatly benefit from this, the optimism of the method will also help the law firms in retention and recruitment.

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