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Cooley Tells Lawyers They Can Mostly Stay Home as Offices ‘Open’

April 20, 2022, 3:31 PM

Cooley LLP will allow many of its lawyers and staff to decide whether to come into the office when the law firm officially reopens workspaces in June.

The firm will allow employees whose duties allow them to work remotely to continue doing so without being required to return to offices, Cooley’s chair Joe Conroy said in a memorandum viewed by Bloomberg Law on Wednesday.

The new flexible working model comes as law firms look to navigate return to office plans after two years of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and its various surges.

“At the core of our flexible approach is an acknowledgment that in the Cooley workplace of the future, one size will definitely not fit all,” Conroy said. “We will each have different perspectives, desires and unique life circumstances dictating our decisions around how much of our work life to conduct in the office.”

The firm told its lawyers and staff last July that it wouldn’t require them to return to the office in 2021 but would eventually mandate coronavirus vaccinations for anyone coming in. Cooley will continue to require vaccination, Conroy said.

As the pandemic raged, law firms shuttered their offices and lawyers shifted to working from home. But over the last year, firms have attempted to come up with return to office plans that provided lawyers with flexibility that work from home arrangements provided.

Some law firms have reopened offices, mandating lawyers be in the office at least two to three days a week. California-based litigation shop Quinn Emanuel said in December that it would allow its U.S. lawyers to “work from anywhere” indefinitely.

Conroy underscored Cooley’s commitment to physical office space.

“We will not be a virtual law firm,” he said in the memo. The firm’s goal is to spend more quality time together in person and create more opportunities to foster connections, he said.

“To be clear, as we adopt new and creative approaches to coming together and strengthening our ties, Cooley is committed to the value our offices provide,” Conroy said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com