Choose ‘where and when you work’, Irwin Mitchell tells lawyers

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National firm set to transform offices into ‘collaborative working hubs’ as part of post-Covid plans

Irwin Mitchell has become the latest law firm to reveal its post-Covid working plans, with the national giant telling its lawyers and staff they can decide where and when they work, subject to their role and client work being completed effectively.

The Sheffield-headquartered outfit said the decision followed research among both colleagues and clients to establish the best approach to working in the future, with the majority preferring a “hybrid approach” that sees staff split their time between the office and home.

The firm said it expected its 15 offices to be running at 50% capacity from 21 June — the date England’s coronavirus lockdown is due to end, if strict conditions are met — but that they would transform into new “collaborative working” hubs to reflect the more flexible approach to life as lawyer.

Susana Berlevy, chief people officer at Irwin Mitchell, said:

“We’ve seen throughout the pandemic how much colleagues have embraced working from home and have appreciated being able to work flexibly around their lives. From listening to our colleagues we anticipate most people to take up hybrid working patterns with time split between offices and home. There will also be some roles which are office based due to the nature of the work they do, and we expect some people will wish to work from home full-time.”

She added: “It’s crucial that we trust our colleagues to make the best choice for themselves, the other colleagues in their teams and their clients in how they decide to work in future. We know wellbeing is also an important consideration, we’re building this into our policies and we also have extensive resources available to help our colleagues to build their resilience and overcome any challenges they face.”

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A raft of law firms have offered up similar flexible policies as the profession looks to adjust to a new way of working in the post-vaccine world.

Lawyers and staff at Herbert Smith Freehills have been told they can come into the office just 60% of the time, while Linklaters‘ lot now have the option to work remotely for up to 50% of the working week as part of a new long-term global policy. Fellow MC players Allen & Overy and Freshfields have also gone public with similar flexi-working initiatives in recent months.

Elsewhere, Squire Patton Boggs announced recently it was abolishing “core hours” so it can offer lawyers and staff greater flexibility with start and finish times, while DAC Beachcroft confirmed its colleagues could work from the office, from home or a mix of the two, and select the times they work across the day and week.

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Suppose 3 similar firms had a 5 day / 3 day / whenever you want in the office plan respectively.

Which firm would produce the best lawyers, retain the best lawyers and which firm would clients instruct?


In my experience clients will demand you respond instantly no matter where you are so they really don’t care about that part.

As for producing the best lawyers however, the more office time the better but you have to ask which firm will also retain the best lawyers/mentors. I can’t think of any senior associate signing up to a 5 day office week for the trainees’ benefit. I’ve known some that would but HR tended to discourage those sort of relationships.


The 5 day a week would produce the best lawyers all things being equal, but it’s just not feasible after all this WFH.


I’d like to choose to work quite some distance from Sheffield if that is OK.

Irwin Mitchell Big Boy Partner with PEP circa £80k plus magic beans

Work where you like, I’ll still pay you Sheffield wages. So just about enough to live in Wirral, Huddersfield, Rochdale and Newcastle. Take your pick pleb.


I don’t do the North. The thought makes me shudder.


Thing is… it’s IM. All that will happen is that the more senior people will demand that the juniors come in more so the junior staff will still have associated commuting costs. Then due to the “less use” of office space they’ll pay the juniors less etc and the grossly overpaid and largely pointless and ineffective BD managers will still get paid for old rope. Partners cream profit people still hate it there. If they leave they’ll exploit a whole new load of grass. It’s a tale as old as time and the Irwin Mitchell strap line

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