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Skadden Unveils Flexible Office Reopening, Covid-19 Testing Plan

May 24, 2021, 9:17 PM

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom will require lawyers to work in the office three days per week starting in September, according to a memo viewed by Bloomberg Law.

The “hybrid work model” gives lawyers the flexibility to work remotely two days a week, according to the memo.

The firm is currently targeting Sept. 13 for its reopening, though some offices might open later given local conditions, the memo said. People can work voluntarily in firm offices this summer.

The Skadden reopening plan, accompanied by a Covid-19 testing protocol, comes as a growing number of firms unveil plans to have workers return to office as the U.S. outlook improves for lessening the spread of the coronavirus.

This new hybrid reopening model applies to all of Skadden attorneys, and the firm will likely make adjustments as time goes on, according to the memo. The firm expects “remote work flexibility will be part of our work routine going forward.”

The firm isn’t requiring its attorneys to be vaccinated as a condition to return to the office, but is urging its employees to get the shots, the memo said. Davis Wright Tremaine and Sanford Heisler Sharp have stated that employees must be vaccinated in order to return to firms’ offices.

Skadden, however, will require all unvaccinated attorneys and professional staff to test negative for Covid-19 within 48 hours of their arrival to the office or any other in-person offsite location.

The firm will also be requiring masks to be worn in all public and shared spaces during the transition period.

As vaccinations rates increase and coronavirus cases fall across the country, more and more Big Law firms are announcing plans to head back to the office. However, firms are attempting to strike a balance between requiring attorneys to return to the office and giving its lawyers the flexibility that work from home arrangements have offered during the pandemic.

Goodwin Procter last week said it also plans on reopening its offices on Sept. 13, pledging a flexible approach through the end of the year, though its lawyers are “encouraged” to work at least three days in the office.

Several firms, including Cooley, DLA Piper, Faegre Drinker, Fish & Richardson, Reed Smith and White & Case, are also eyeing the beginning of September for their reopening dates, emphasizing the flexibility of their plans.

Some firms have opted for earlier timelines. Sullivan & Cromwell has said that its lawyers are “strongly encouraged” to return to the office on July 6, according to the American Lawyer. Nixon Peabody has also targeted July 6 as its return to office date firmwide.

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

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

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