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Frustrated many law firms didn’t allow remote working earlier in the covid-19 outbreak, seems like some partners don’t trust associates to work without supervision. How can we fix this as an industry?

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Trust is earned, not an entitlement. Demonstrate that you are trustworthy over time, and be doubly responsive. Earn my respect, and do even more to engage while WFH. (Q1: Did I do a good job of pissing everyone off by sounding like a stereotype? Q2: And before you react - Did I write anything untrue?)

likefunny

Here’s the thing. I understand that under normal conditions- sure, I need to earn a partner’s trust before I ask to wfh on a random Friday. But it was really frustrating to watch this pandemic spreading and see tech and other professional services firms let employees wfh while we were told we still had to come to the office. And told explicitly it was because partners didn’t trust us to get work done at home. We’re risking our lives and those of our family members- are these not extenuating circumstances?

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Ironic because it’s the partners that are tripping over technological challenges

likeupliftingfunny

What do they think you’re doing by yourself in your office all day at the office while they sit across the hall in their office and communicate with you via email or pick up their phone to call you? Sounds just about the same to me.

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I don’t trust myself to work from WFH

likefunny

I can’t speak to your firm, obviously, but I think the work from home determinations made in the past few months are somewhat more complex and nuanced than you acknowledge. A huge concern for many firms was their technological preparedness and the ability of our Internet infrastructure to handle so many people using residential Wi-Fi simultaneously, particularly for video applications. If you want, feel free to fault firms for not anticipating those needs in advance, but as you do so remember that this situation is literally unprecedented in world history and that very few people and organizations were anywhere close to prepared to deal with the changes we all have experienced since the beginning of March. I am sure some firms also doubted their associates’ willingness and ability to maintain productivity levels while at home, worried about what other firms and clients would think, worried about contributing to panic, and worried about the not-insubstantial cost of suddenly moving 100% of lawyers and staff to a virtual environment. To me, those are not a legitimate concerns. And then of course there are all of the less legitimate reasons that firms may have drag their feet, including politics, unreasonable adherence to tradition, and perhaps other factors. Our firm went to a work from home environment for everyone as of the third week of March, so after some firms and before others. The decision how to proceed was influenced by what other firms were doing, the expectation that some clients had for continued face-to-face contact, and the other work that was necessary to enable functional WFH not only by the lawyers but also by staff members, who by in large did not have for laptops or other equipment necessary to function from home. I never once heard “not trusting associates“ as a consideration, although I have no doubt that at least some people wondered how productive people would be. At the end of the day I think we all have to judge people gently for their actions over the last month. What’s happening is unprecedented. The world has literally turned over entirely in less than a month. Judging things with the benefit of hindsight is pretty easy. Making consequential decisions in the heat of an uncertain moment is much more difficult.

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Lateral to firms like mine who support WFH (during a crisis or otherwise).

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Latham... although we encourage people to work in the office as much as possible during non-crisis periods we also advertise to recruits that we provide the technology for folks to work from home seamlessly when necessary (eg I have always been issued a Cisco phone that rings both at my home office and at my firm office).

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