BakerHostetler is postponing its office return date to Jan. 4, joining other Big Law firms that say uncertainty about the Covid-19 delta variant requires a go-slower approach.
The Cleveland, Ohio-based firm, which brought in nearly $790 million in gross revenue last year, has been postponing its return date since early September. BakerHostetler as of Oct. 18, however, will encourage in-person work on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The AmLaw 100 firm joins a growing number of rivals that have opted to wait until next year to mandate office returns, despite concerns that continued remote work could hurt firm culture.
BakerHostetler Chairman Paul Schmidt said in September that a fall reopening was possible, but firms faced a “small window” to do so with Thanksgiving and winter holidays just weeks away.
“I don’t think it’s sustainable in the long run,” Schmidt said of remote work. “The question is, how long can the short run be? How long can we wait till we start doing irreparable harm to your culture, to training, to all those value propositions from in-person interaction?”
Cooley LLP was one of the first firms to delay its office return until early 2022 at the earliest. Since then, several firms have announced similar policies.
Perkins Coie and Cahill Gordon & Reindel have said they will welcome lawyers back to the office in January, and Wilson Sonsini has set a return date of Feb. 1.
Schiff Hardin announced last month that its already-delayed return date of Nov. 4 would be deferred indefinitely. The Chicago-based firm originally intended to begin in-person work on Sept. 7.
“The health and safety of our personnel, and their families, is of the utmost importance,” Schiff Hardin firmwide managing partner Joe Krasovec wrote in a memo to the firm. “Given the current uncertainty over when conditions related to the pandemic will improve, we are not setting a definitive date.”
Still, other firms have decided to plow ahead with their 2021 office-return schedule. McDermott Will & Emery have already welcomed lawyers back, while Ropes & Gray, Akin Gump, and Fried Frank have planned return dates for early November.