23 Jul 2021

Shearman & Sterling outlines hybrid working policy with Tuesday to Thursday 'in office' schedule

Policy aims to allow for flexibility while preserving benefits of in-person collaboration, learning and development

Headshot of Shearman & Sterling's senior partner David Beveridge

David Beveridge: 'A hybrid approach will allow us to continue to execute on our strategy successfully'

Shearman & Sterling has announced its global policy on remote working as it plans for lawyers to start returning to the office, the latest firm to commit to more flexible working practices in the post-pandemic era.

The firm will split employees into one of three categories – fully in office, fully remote and hybrid remote. Fully office-based roles will include receptionists, office services, assistants and on-site IT support staff who will be expected to work in the office 100% of the time. Fully remote roles will include positions such as tech support.

Hybrid roles will apply to the majority of employees including partners who will be expected to work three days in the office every week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays so that teams will be together for the bulk of the time and to ensure ongoing development and training of lawyers. The new policy will come into force on September 13.

David Beveridge, Shearman’s senior partner, said: “Our new approach is tailored to meet the business needs of the firm and our clients while also providing some flexibility and absolute clarity for our people. It incorporates the views of our colleagues following our global survey earlier this year. We recognise the benefits of a hybrid approach with remote working offering flexibility and time for more focused tasks, while having specific ‘in the office’ days will facilitate in-person collaboration, as well as in-person learning and development opportunities.”

Shearman’s statement comes after Morgan Stanley chief legal officer Eric Grossman last week wrote a letter to law firms complaining about a lack of urgency among lawyers to return to the office, adding that firms that maintain remote working policies will be at a disadvantage to firms that return to the office full-time. Grossman said that all critical meetings will be expected to be conducted in-person.

Shearman stressed in its statement that lawyers will still be expected to attend client meetings on days when they are working remotely.

Beveridge added that during the pandemic Shearman lawyers demonstrated they could continue to meet client service expectations regardless of their location.

He said: “A hybrid approach will allow us to continue to execute on our strategy successfully, continue to provide our clients with the legal insight and advice needed to help them achieve their business objectives all while providing some flexibility for our people.”

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