Cravath Swaine & Moore is delaying its office reopening and allowing its workforce six days per month of remote work, as law firms rethink their return to office plans in the face of the surge in coronavirus cases across the country.
The Wall Street firm had planned on reopening its two major offices in New York and London after Labor Day but will now be targeting Oct. 18 as its return date, depending on conditions and further guidance, presiding partner Faiza Saeed said in a memo to the firm viewed by Bloomberg Law. The change in policy was first reported by Above the Law.
The emergence of the Delta variant of Covid-19 across the U.S. has forced Big Law leaders to determine whether to push back office re-openings, many of which were scheduled for the summer or soon after Labor Day. So far, several Big Law firms, like Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, McDermott Will & Emery, and Schiff Hardin have delayed their reopenings until later this fall.
Upon its reopening, Cravath will limit office access, in-person attendance events, and client meetings to those fully vaccinated, Saeed said, noting that over 90% of Cravath personnel are already fully vaccinated. The memo urged those who haven’t yet gotten vaccines to reconsider.
The rise in Covid-19 cases has also forced law firms to decide whether to require their workforces to get vaccinated in order to return to the office. Akin Gump, Crowell & Moring, Goodwin Procter, Ropes & Gray, and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison are among those implementing such a requirement.
Cravath will allow its attorneys to work remotely up to six business days each month going forward, as the firm looks to balance the “personal flexibility many of us have valued in the remote environment with the requirements of a client-centered apprenticeship model,” Saeed said.
“We expect and trust that professionals of the caliber of our people can determine how that should translate into their weekly routine when we are back in the office,” she said.
When attorneys do in-person to Cravath, they’ll be able to forego formal Wall Street-style, for “business casual” dress—at least some of the time.
“Of course, where making a court appearance, the rules of attire will remain formal business, and when meeting with clients, judgment should be guided by the etiquette the client follows,” the memo said.