Major Law Firms Asking Lawyers for Three Days Per Week

Major New York City-based law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell will soon begin asking its lawyers to come into the office at least three days per week, echoing the policies of several other large law firms.

According to an internal Davis Polk memo, the firm expects its lawyers in the United States at all seniority levels to work in the office at least three to four days per week, with attendance required on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The policy was set to begin May 2.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

The internal memo was sent by Neil Barr, Chair and Managing Partner of the approximately 1,000-lawyer firm, and was dated April 21. The industry blog Above the Law first reported on the memo on April 25.

After more than two years of lawyers primarily working from home due to COVID-19 and the resultant quarantines and stay-at-home orders, law firm leaders have recently had to find a balance between allowing their lawyers more flexibility in where they work and a desire for face time in planning widespread office returns.

Kirkland & Ellis (the largest law firm in the world by total revenue in 2021), like Davis Polk, has chosen the three days in the middle of the week for in-person work.

According to incoming Presiding Partner Peter Furci, lawyers at Debevoise & Plimpton will work in person at least three days per week, while Vinson & Elkins and Norton Rose Fulbright have also announced that they are expecting attendance at least three days each week.

On the other hand, Cooley, a firm known for its tech clients and that also has approximately 1,000 lawyers, said that it is allowing many of its lawyers and staff to decide for themselves when to go into the office or whether to go in at all. "One size will definitely not fit all," said Joe Conroy, Cooley’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in a memo provided to Reuters. But at the same time, "there is something special about in-office interactions," he wrote.

Litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is letting its U.S. lawyers work from anywhere in the country, while Nixon Peabody's return-to-office plan allows for a range of options including hybrid and fully remote.