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Where Will Attorneys Work in 2022 and Beyond?

By Laura Temme, Esq. on January 21, 2022 9:29 AM

The number of ways law firms and other businesses have had to pivot in the last few years has left those of us who write about such topics running out of ways to introduce them. How many times can we say, "Wow, the pandemic sure changed things, huh?"

At least once more, as always.

Whether due to the continuing battle over legal talent or a realization that expensive offices in urban centers may not be necessary, many firms are re-examining the way they'll work in 2022 and beyond.

Giving Up Expensive Real Estate

Businesses in every sector have been facing tough decisions regarding real estate. The pandemic has made downtown offices obsolete for months (and now, arguably, years), pushing organizations to decide whether it's worthwhile to keep paying for prime city locations. In March 2021, Minnesota-based Target announced it was leaving the offices it had long occupied in downtown Minneapolis. The retailer concluded that the success employees had with working remotely meant that the company didn't need the space anymore.

The same goes for some high-profile law firms. Global firm Greenberg Traurig recently announced it was opening offices in the Hamptons. Employing what it calls a "work-near-home" strategy, the move cuts down the commutes of its Long Island-based attorneys and clients while reducing the number of more expensive offices needed in Manhattan.

Some Law Firms Move to Virtual Offices

In July 2020, national law firm Husch Blackwell announced its new, entirely virtual office, dubbed "The Link." Fifty of the firm's employees volunteered to join the virtual office at its inception. A year and a half later, The Link has grown to include more than 300 employees, 99 of them attorneys.

As cases of COVID-19's Omicron variant surged in December 2021, California-based firm Quinn Emanuel announced that its litigators in the U.S. will be eligible to work from anywhere in the country "indefinitely." Founding partner John Quinn pointed to the added recruitment opportunities that this model allowed: "We want to invite the best litigators to join our firm, wherever their desks are." And while a 2020 survey found that most lawyers do not want to work from home full time, many firms seem to be embracing at least a hybrid approach.

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