The burning question of the summer was whether other firms would follow Skadden’s move to a Monday-Thursday office policy, or continue with the predominantly three-day model Biglaw adopted post-pandemic. It’s essentially a less fun version of the salary wars, with firms glancing side-eye at each other to figure out if they’re all going to torch their goodwill with associates or not.
Davis Polk has decided to bank on Skadden. Despite a report that the Skadden policy was so unpopular that even the partners rejected it in a vote, Davis Polk seems convinced that Skadden’s forging a new consensus, and will adopt a mandatory Monday-Thursday schedule as of Labor Day.
Neil Barr informed the firm this morning.
The key driver behind our in-office attendance philosophy is a desire to provide all members of our community with best-in-class professional development opportunities, including mentorship, training and the opportunity to create more meaningful relationships with others at the Firm. As you have now heard me say many times in our Town Halls and elsewhere, I believe that these opportunities derive, in the first instance, from our collective presence in the office and, for our Firm, simply cannot be cultivated as effectively in a remote environment.
To that end, when we return after Labor Day, all lawyers and, with the exceptions noted below, business services personnel will be expected to work in-office four days a week. Attendance will be mandatory Monday through Thursday.
Davis Polk had a mandatory Tuesday-Thursday model, which they had been claiming as a success. Apparently Mondays are the critical lynchpin that allows “mentorship, training, and the opportunity to create more meaningful relationships with others at the Firm.” You just can’t get that on Tuesdays!
DPW’s decision to join Skadden isn’t a huge surprise. In March, the firm signaled its waning faith in its existing office policy when it installed a bonus threat, holding compensation hostage if attorneys were not at their desks. At the time, the firm made the implicit commitment that if everyone could just come in three days a week, everything would be fine.
As it turned out, this was the “frog in boiling water” move setting the table for a four-day policy.
We will concurrently introduce a new concept to allow some flexibility as we move into this new work paradigm – an annual remote day “bank.” This policy will allow you to choose 16 days annually to work remotely. For 2023, you may choose 5 remote days between September 5 and year-end. Additional details on the remote day bank, including related policies and procedures, will be made available shortly via an update to our Firm policies on the intranet.
The firm is also announcing that everyone can work remotely (subject to their workload) Thanksgiving week, the last week of December, and the last two weeks of August. Because partners have no intention being in on those days either, so they don’t need their coterie of paid friends hanging around to keep them company in the office.
As one tipster reports, “Absolutely ridiculous. Everything they said about hybrid ‘working’ was clearly not how they felt, despite it being true. This is going to significantly lower the happiness of associates for no additional benefit. This is simply to justify their rent.”
And so the momentum toward four days in the office mounts. Where everyone else lands will likely be decided over the next month or so.
Earlier: ‘You Didn’t See Your Kids Before The Pandemic, You Shouldn’t Expect To See Them Now,’ Says Elite Law Firm Partner
Davis Polk Associates Better Get Their Butts To The Office If They Want Their Full Bonus
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.