Back in 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ropes & Gray chair Julie Jones, when speaking about the firm’s reopening plans, declared, “No matter what phase we are in, we endorse flexibility post-pandemic. We don’t expect that we’ll ever mandate a five-day a week in-office environment.”
Also in 2021, Ropes & Gray announced its three-phase vision for a return to work for attorneys which, at the time, was perhaps one of the most flexible post-pandemic reopening plans of any law firm.
Starting in February of this year, for phase one, the firm began encouraging its associates to spend one to two days in the office each week. Then, in March, phase two encouraged them to start spending three days in the office each week. Now, for the third phase, Ropes is actually mandating that associates spend three specific days in-office per week.
Jones says this is because “those who do not spend at least three days a week in the office are not getting the full experience of being a Ropes & Gray lawyer — whether it’s being mentored by a colleague, connecting and collaborating with teams, or becoming involved in our larger community.”
The firm has found that a more coordinated schedule, with maximum overlap amongst colleagues, is the key to creating the experiences that build connections and deliver on its teaching and mentoring promise. Thus, starting on October 3, it is requiring office “anchor days,” and has designated Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as the days all colleagues will be in the officer together.
The firm decided on those three days because they were the days with the highest level of attendance over the past six months. While the firm expects its lawyers in the office all three of those days each week, it does acknowledge some exceptions, like client and business development needs or occasional personal conflicts that can affect all professionals.