ANALYSIS: RTO or WFH? Attorneys and Employers Find Common Ground

Return-to-office policies are more closely aligned with attorneys’ RTO preferences than might be expected, according to Bloomberg Law’s inaugural State of Practice Survey conducted last month. In fact, employers and employees are in closer agreement regarding work arrangements than they were last October, perhaps indicating that as the pandemic turns into an endemic, both sides recognize the need for greater flexibility regarding RTO requirements.

It’s now been more than two years since Covid-19 changed the professional and personal lives of attorneys around the world, leaving a lasting impact on how, when, and where lawyers are expected to work.

Bloomberg Law’s survey asked 507 law firm and in-house attorneys about their current work environments, including how their employers’ return-to-office expectations compare with the attorneys’ own RTO preferences.

When asked how many days per week attorneys are expected to be in the office as of May 2022, the majority of respondents reported that they either have complete flexibility or are expected to come in at least two to three days per week. More specifically, 31% of attorney respondents reported having flexibility regarding coming into the office or working from home, while another 31% of respondents reported that they are required to come in at least three times a week.

Only 12% of respondents reported that they are expected to be in full-time, highlighting the fact that firms are not returning—or have not yet returned—to an everyday, in-office work model.

When asked about their ideal work week, a quarter of the respondents indicated that they prefer to work remotely full-time. Working in the office two days per week (20%) was the next most favored option, followed by three days per week (19%). Fifteen percent of respondents reported that they’d like to work in an office setting full-time.

Attorneys’ preferences this year

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