Now US firms are eyeing ‘agile working’
The London office of US law firm Shearman & Sterling is considering a work from home option for its solicitors pending the outcome of an internal review.
The elite firm — that has operated an informal agile working scheme for a number of years — has confirmed that it is in discussions with staff over the formalisation of the current arrangement.
The news comes as the New York-headquartered outfit announced that a “remote working policy” was now in place for its lawyers in the US. A memo (embedded below) — sent to the firm’s staff and acquired by website Above The Law — revealed that “associates and counsel in good standing” will have the option to work from the comfort of their own home twice a month.
With Shearman hoping to improve retention, efficiency and productivity, the internal note — rather amusingly — makes clear that this isn’t an opportunity for lawyers to simply skive. Billing targets are still expected to be met, and the memo stresses that associates must be “actively working” and not simply “checking emails”.
For lawyers who decide to take up management’s offer, the firm will provide them with their own printer and scanner to take home.
If the initiative is given the green light this side of the pond, Shearman — which pays its newly qualified solicitors a whopping £88,000 and expects plenty of hard work in return — would join a host of London firms already trumpeting the benefits of agile working.
Last year Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Linklaters all unveiled schemes that would allow their lawyers to work from home one day-a-week. Other firms to embrace flexible working in one form or another include Mishcon de Reya, Quinn Emanuel, Wedlake Bell, Foot Anstey and DAC Beachcroft.
In spite of an abundance of UK firms adopting agile working, the uptake by US firms based in the City has been slow. But that could be changing. Just last week the London office of US-based giant Mayer Brown revealed that it was piloting a similar scheme within its construction department. Due to conclude this summer, the firm will collect feedback from those involved before any permanent decision is made.