Since March 2020, the data privacy team at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith has worked remotely, handling client breaches from a variety of locations and only going into the office on an as-needed basis. This is because of the diffuse nature of cybersecurity legal services, says practice group chair Sean Hoar, which relies on the group operating around the clock from a variety of locations.
When Hoar’s 44-member group relocated to Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete at the beginning of this year, the team’s virtual work preference was a “unique” arrangement that leaders at labor and employment-focused Constangy were happy to agree to.
“We’re treating this group as both a virtual office and a practice group,” says Neil Wasser, chairman of the executive committee at Constangy. “It’s going to be fully integrated group that works together daily as a virtual office. We think it is reflective of how we’re going to see law firms work in the future.”
The Lewis Brisbois to Constangy move, one of the largest lateral group moves in the first month of 2023, indicates that, under the right circumstances, firm leaders are still willing to allow the kind of workplace flexibility that firms had no choice but to accept over the past several years. If the COVID-19 pandemic showed that remote work was a viable stop-gap solution, the frenzied pace of deal work that prompted 2021′s hiring boom kept it going by tilting labor market dynamics in candidates’ favor.
However, as receding demand for legal services and correspondingly legal talent sends the seesaw tilting in the opposite direction, the willingness of law firm leaders to accommodate the workplace preferences of candidates is now an open question. Industry observers and firm leaders say the visible manifestations