The morning air is getting brisk and summer officially ends in two days. Another thing that’s ending is Biglaw firms’ hopes and dreams of getting associates and staff back into their offices before the new year begins. Thanks to the continued assault of the coronavirus crisis, many of the nation’s most prestigious law firms have delayed their reopenings numerous times.
But how many postponements does it take for a firm to realize that it may not be safe or wise to reopen in full in 2021?
For Holland & Knight — a firm that brought in $1,044,337,000 gross revenue in 2020 and recently completed a merger with Thompson & Knight — the third time seems to have been the charm.
Last week, on September 15, the firm sent out a memo (available in full on the next page) concerning its decision to forgo bringing employees back to the office this year. Here’s a relevant excerpt from the memo:
In May, we believed that a return date following Labor Day for our domestic offices would be appropriate as the pandemic seemed to be waning. During the summer, however, the rise of the Delta variant and increasing infections led us to announce that the return date would be delayed to October 12. …
Given the current circumstances and the outlook for the next few months, the Firm has decided to postpone the October 12 return date for our domestic offices. We will continue to evaluate when to move forward, and plan to provide at least 30 days’ notice of a new return date for our U.S. offices. At this time, it appears unlikely that a full reopening date would occur earlier than January, 2022.
Holland & Knight joins Cahill, Cooley, Perkins Coie, Sanford Heisler, and Willkie in giving up its return-to-office plans in 2021. For those who do wish to return to the office in some fashion, there are rules, including a vaccine mandate:
- As of August 30, personnel must have provided proof of partial vaccination status to be present in the office. As of October 12, personnel must have provided proof of full vaccination status to be present in the office.
- Personnel should not visit the office if they recently had or currently have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Personnel are “strongly discouraged” from planning or attending firm events and meetings with more than 10 guests.
Will your firm do without a 2021 return to office due to the worsening pandemic? Help us help you. Let us know what your firm is doing to protect employees and adjust to the new normal during this unprecedented moment in time.
(Flip to the next page to read the full memo from Holland & Knight.)
As soon as you find out about the reopening plan at your firm, please email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Office Reopening”) or text us at (646) 820-8477. We always keep our sources on stories anonymous. There’s no need to send a memo (if one exists) using your firm email account; your personal email account is fine. If a memo has been circulated, please be sure to include it as proof; we like to post complete memos as a service to our readers. You can take a photo of the memo and attach as a picture if you are worried about metadata in a PDF or Word file. Thanks.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.