Juliet Lawson
Juliet Lawson

Articles From the Team

Is the new age of remote working opening up more opportunities for lawyers?

I don’t think anyone can deny that 2020 has been a year to remember, and not in a good way. The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives this year in ways that would have previously seemed unimaginable, and we have a whole new vocabulary of words and phrases that we’d never uttered before, sometimes never even heard before.

The most major change affecting the workplace occurred back in mid March 2020 when Boris Johnson announced, ahead of the first lockdown, that everybody who could work from home, should pack up their desks and do so. HR and IT teams in offices across the land went into overdrive to put in place systems & processes that would enable their entire workforce, where possible, to work remotely.

Whilst the legal profession has undoubtedly been improving in recent years in allowing lawyers to work from home one, or sometimes two days a week, and reducing the size of their physical offices, the firms that have been comfortable with agile working as standard have still been very much in the minority. The notion of ‘presenteeism’ has been very much alive & well in the profession - and then along comes Covid and overnight it’s all change.

The challenges

It’s not all been plain sailing. Whilst the profession has proved that it’s entirely possible to do it, for some it’s not been ideal. Some trainees have had their qualification dates put back because of the issues around providing the right level of training remotely, still more trainees & junior lawyers have felt rather adrift and it’s been tricky for the more paper-heavy practice areas. A lot of people just don’t like working from home, or the environment there is far from ideal for a myriad of reasons.

What has become clear though, is that the many lawyers who wanted to work more remotely before the pandemic, have shown that it’s entirely possible, and it’s clear that things can’t go back to where they were, once this is ‘all over’.

What does the future look like?

We’re starting to read in the legal press now about different firms’ planned working from home policies post pandemic, and it very much looks as if the blended role (where you may only be in the office 2 days a week), will become much more the norm – and once firms go down that route, they will find it difficult to back-pedal without causing fury in the ranks.

It won’t be across the board, we don’t think. Junior lawyers and trainees still need more hands-on support, which of course means that a line manager needs to be around to support them, but it’s hard to deny that there is going to be a fairly seismic shift.

The impact on the job market

This in turn has an interesting impact on the job market, where more opportunities can open up for you with firms in locations that are too far away for a daily commute, especially if you have a few years’ experience under your belt and can work largely autonomously. You will particularly benefit from this if you work in a specialist or candidate-short practice area such as Pensions, Restructuring, Insolvency Litigation or Construction, to name a few. You will no longer need to feel quite as constrained by geography.

If this has got you thinking about your next career move, or you'd simply like to find out more about current market trends, please get in touch - we’d love to talk to you.

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