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Cooley Will Not Require Lawyers to Return to Office in 2021 (1)

July 20, 2021, 4:17 PM; Updated: July 20, 2021, 5:02 PM

Cooley, a law firm known for its stable of technology industry clients, told its lawyers and staff via email Tuesday that it won’t require them to return to the office this year, but will eventually mandate vaccines for the coronavirus.

In an email sent early Tuesday morning by administrative and legal practice partner Mark Pitchford, and obtained by Bloomberg Law, Cooley said that it will not institute a mandatory return date or a minimum number of in-office days for those at the firm whose job duties permit remote work.

The firm is also requiring that by Labor Day, everyone working in or visiting one of its U.S. offices must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19. Cooley will process requests for “reasonable accommodation” to this policy on an individual basis.

The announcement by Cooley comes as law firms juggle requiring attorneys to return to the office and giving them the flexibility that work from home arrangements have offered during the pandemic.

The Silicon Valley-based firm’s announcement, which is one of the more flexible policies announced by a Big Law firm in recent weeks, comes on the heels of Morgan Stanley chief legal officer Eric Grossman’s demand that the banking giant’s outside law firms return their lawyers to the office if they want to keep their business.

“The Cooley culture we cherish—and which so differentiates us from our primary competitors—is the product of the trust and bonds we developed over the years by sharing experiences in person,” Pitchford said. “We have evolved to such a degree that our workplace of the future will be neither fully remote nor fully in person.”

Pitchford said that Cooley will “remain a workplace for the future, characterized by trust, support, and agility,” to best support its people, clients, and culture by delivering “world-class” legal services.

“Given this, and the fact that we must remain vigilant about our health and well-being, now is not the time to delineate precisely what the post-pandemic work environment will look like,” he said. “We will, of course, provide more information about 2022 closer to the end of this year.”

Cooley is known for its prominent technology industry clients, including Zoom Video Communications Inc., which the firm advised this week on its $14.7 billion acquisition of cloud-based contact center provider Five9 Inc., and Snowflake Inc., a cloud data company whose $3.4 billion initial public offering it handled last year.

The nearly 1,100-attorney firm saw its gross revenue hit roughly $1.5 billion in 2020, up nearly 17% from the year prior, according to the latest AmLaw data.

Cooley has recently been hiring in Chicago, where the firm opened an office this year, and has loaded up on lawyers to serve clients in the booming life sciences sector. Cooley also hired a chief strategy and legal practice officer in January.

(Adds information about Cooley and its clients throughout.)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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