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Sidley to Associates: Skipping Office Will Cost You Bonus Money

Jan. 25, 2023, 10:17 PM

Sidley Austin is telling junior attorneys they may lose bonus cash if they spend too little time working from the office.

The firm, like many others, requires lawyers to be in the office at least three days per week. Attendance is one of the factors that will determine bonuses this year, managers told mid-level associates during annual performance reviews.

“We have asked all of our lawyers and staff to come into the office and embrace the collaborative culture that Sidley is known for around the world,” Sidley said in a statement.

The firm’s annual associate bonus scale for last year ranged from $20,000 to $115,000, depending on seniority.

Major law firms have largely landed on the three-day requirement, with some outliers mandating four days in the office or making attendance optional. Several firm leaders have said they’d like to see attendance pick up, but firms vary widely in how they police their office requirements.

Firms went fully remote in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and continued to stress flexibility during the associate recruiting war that followed. Many are expected to ramp up in-office work requirements amid an economic slowdown that has prompted layoffs at a handful of large firms.

Sidley policies are similar to those of clients, who have returned to offices, the firm’s statement said. “At the same time, we have heard from associates that they value in-person contact with their peers and partners at the firm,” Sidley said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com