Once upon a time, the biggest question a starting solo would face was whether to work from a home office or from a physical office. In fact, I devoted long blog posts here and here about trying to make a decision between the two and reassuring lawyers that there really wasn’t one right answer.
Fast forward to 2021 and almost a year after the pandemic started, there is one correct answer: A remote office and work environment must ALWAYS be an option.
A recent article in the ABA Journal asked whether current home work will continue after the pandemic ends. The play interviews several lawyers who remotely share their positive experiences, but at the same time several predict law firms will be back to business as usual after the pandemic.
Here is the thing. Just as you can’t put the genie back in the bottle, we can’t just erase the past year. The ability to work remotely has changed all of us, including our expectations. Clients realize they don’t have to leave the comfort of their home for 30 minutes of driving to meet with a lawyer. Young parents are realizing that they no longer have to tolerate missing a child’s noon event because a boss needed them to work in the office. In other words, remote offices are no longer just about attorney preferences, it’s also about what customers and employees ask for.
I like going out of the house as much as anyone I kept my small office in a downtown WeWork facility and I go down once a week to change scenery and get access to a large conference room to spread out in. In addition, as long as we are still receiving mail, I prefer a professional address that is not my home for data protection reasons. In short, physical offices will not go away, but we will use them less and differently. In the meantime, law firms must recognize this new reality and relax their ridiculous rules for a once and for all bonafide office – or lawyers will not survive the post-pandemic world.
Has the pandemic made you rethink your plans for your law firm, and if so, how?