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Freshfields Tells U.K. Lawyers to Stay Home Amid Omicron Fears

Dec. 9, 2021, 8:51 PM

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is advising its lawyers and staff in the U.K. to work remotely beginning next week, following new pandemic guidance in London.

The announcement comes a day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the country to work from home as part of “Plan B” in response to the spreading omicron Covid-19 variant. The new variant is four times more transmissible than the delta variant, according to a Japanese study.

“The wellbeing of our people is uppermost in our minds,” a firm spokesperson said in an email. “Our agile policy of up to 50% remote working will not apply and our people can choose to work remotely as of today if they prefer.”

Freshfields is one of the largest firms in the U.K., known in London as “Magic Circle” firms. It has set its sights on the U.S. in recent years, expanding aggressively by poaching notable dealmakers and other lawyers from competitors.

Other major firms in the U.K. are likely to make similar announcements.

The delta variant had already disrupted and delayed many firms’ office return policies in the U.S. Omicron presents yet another threat ahead of many planned 2022 office reopenings.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com