Although one out of three solo lawyers has a home office, up to 90 percent of lawyers in firms of all other sizes work primarily in a traditional office setting.
But that gap may be narrowing, as a large majority of lawyers nationwide say they’ve started telecommuting at least part-time because of the pandemic.
“Among those who telecommute, most say the most common place they work is home (88 percent),” says Stephen Embry for the American Bar Association. “Flexibility of the schedule and family obligations are the main reason for telecommuting, especially for younger lawyers (29 percent and 24 percent respectively). About 20 percent say telecommuting boosts productivity. Of those who do not telecommute, over 70 percent say they have no interest. There does not appear to be any significant discrepancy based on firm size.”
These are some of the findings from the first-ever “Life and Practice” survey of practicing lawyers, conducted by the ABA Law Practice Division’s Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC).
Below are some other key takeaways.
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Following are 10 key takeaways from the ABA’s Law and Practice survey:
- The billable hour still reigns. Seventy-one (71) percent of all respondents say the billable hour is their primary method of billing, ranging from 58 percent of solos to 89 percent of firms of 500 or more lawyers.
- Flex schedules are on the rise. Seventy-seven (77) percent of firms offer flexible work schedules. Three-quarters of the lawyers in those firms take advantage of this flexibility.
- Offices and desks remain popular. More than 92 percent of lawyers say they have a permanent desk. Less than 10 percent of firms use an open office floor plan.
- Staff training is essential. “Most firms require ethical training (over 70 percent),” writes Embry. “A significant percentage of large firms (those with 50+ lawyers) also require cybersecurity training, workplace harassment training, and diversity training. Interestingly, technology-related training was not mentioned.”
- The iPhone rules. Approximately 80 percent of lawyers with a smartphone use an iPhone. Seventy percent of them say their phone is their “primary” way of accessing emails outside the office.
- Large firms offer more benefits. Among them: commuter reimbursements, long-term disability benefits, life insurance, and medical insurance. Most firms (73 percent) offer some sort of retirement program. Other popular benefits include CLE reimbursement (paid by 91 percent of firms) and bar association dues (90 percent).
- Quiet rooms are making a splash. “The two most popular offered amenities are quiet rooms (22 percent) and an onsite gym (20 percent),” writes Embry. “Of those who reported availability, 68 percent report that they use quiet rooms and 60 percent report that they use the onsite gym. Not surprisingly, bigger firms are the ones more inclined to offer gyms and quiet rooms.”
- Professional conferences are still popular. Forty-one (41) percent of lawyers says they attend professional conferences, at least occasionally, if not regularly.
The bottom line: the profession is becoming more mobile, tethered to technology, and committed to enhanced well-being.
Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers add purpose, profits and peace of mind to their practices. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441.