The occupancy rates for law firms are 10 percentage points higher than the average.
As vaccinations become more widespread, executives are beginning to target a return to office later this year.
But some professions are moving faster than others. According to Kastle’s Back to Work Barometer, which tracks the return to office in ten major cities, the occupancy rates for law firms are 10 percentage points higher than the average.
“In talking with our law firm clients, we are hearing many factors that have made remote work more challenging for this sector, including paper-heavy office systems and generally being slower to adopt new technologies,” Kastle CEO Haniel Lynn said in a prepared statement. “In looking at a return to the office, these and other workplace or cultural factors could also come into play for greater in person activity.”
Through its Kastle Back to Work Barometer, the company has been tracking the anonymized activity of 341,000 unique office credential holders in major cities. Of those credential holders, 31,582 are in the legal industry.
“For many of our members, some firms never closed at the beginning of the pandemic,” Association of Legal Administrators Executive Director April Campbell, JD said in a prepared statement. “Different local government guidance on what workers were deemed essential meant that in some cities that sometimes included law firms. There have also been concerns about the ability to onboard new employees and conduct new associate training remotely, so we’re seeing law firms in the office at higher rates.”
However, not all law firms plan to go back to business as usual. Last year, Jeff Schneider, a managing partner at Miami-based law firm Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider + Grossman, told GlobeSt.com that the firm was considering shrinking its space.
“The biggest expenses for every law firm are space, personnel and insurance,” Schneider says. “Now we have an opportunity to cut one of them by a lot. Even if it’s not a 50% [reduction in office costs], but a 20%, 30% or 40% savings, that’s a massive cut. In addition to that, you end up with a much happier workforce.”
In Grant Thornton’s 2021 Q1 CFO survey, the firm asked executives if there were any unexpected benefits to the pandemic. Sixty percent of respondents pointed to improved flexible and remote work environments.
Most of these CFOs aren’t planning to return to old business models, according to Grant Thornton. Respondents to the survey say that these executives plan to target travel and real estate facilities for permanent cuts. “It seems at least some of the shift to remote and virtual work environments is here to stay,” according to Grant Thornton.