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Law Firms Start Tying Office Attendance to Job Security and Bonuses

ALM: “With demand down, lateraling is down, and firms have more bargaining power. Law firms have had trouble enforcing office attendance policies. But with the labor market tightening and more personnel cuts likely, some have become more assertive, law firm leaders and industry observers say, planting stakes in the ground by tying bonuses or job retention to in-person work. Analysts for months have suspected law firms might use the increased leverage that came with a slowdown in demand to be more vigorous about office returns. But now some law firms are becoming more explicit about office attendance, observers say, corresponding with associate job cuts across several law firms and a continuing drop in demand. As recently as the second quarter of this year, firm leaders were more likely asking how they could entice transactional associates to work in-person with things like free lunches, said Michelle Fivel, a partner at recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. “Now it’s, ‘If you’re not coming in, there’s going to be consequences,’” said Fivel, who specializes in placing associates. “Whether that’s losing your job or maybe not getting bonuses, or maybe that carrot of just, ‘Hey, if you’re not around, you’re not developing.’ That skill development. So, there is this concern about how this is going to affect the rest of your career,” she said…”

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