Working remotely has become a top priority for lawyers: ABA report

Nearly two-thirds of lawyers in private practice can work remotely 100% of the time

Working remotely has become a top priority for lawyers: ABA report

Young lawyers feel so strongly about remote work that 44% of them would leave their current jobs for the opportunity to work remotely elsewhere, according to a new report from the American Bar Association.

The report entitled Where Does the Legal Profession Go from Here? is based on input from nearly 2,000 ABA members who responded to a survey in May and June about how they are practicing today and what they expect from their employers and careers in the future, reported the American Bar Association Journal.

According to the ABA’s report, 87% of lawyers say their workplaces allow them to work remotely. Nearly two-thirds of lawyers in private practice can work remotely 100% of the time or have the flexibility to choose their own schedule, while 23% are required to work in the office one to three days a week. More than half of in-house lawyers can work remotely 100% of the time or make their own schedule, and 32% must work one to three days in the office. Government lawyers have the least flexibility, with only 32% reporting they are fully remote or choose their own schedule, the Journal reported.

Commissioned by the Coordinating Group on Practice Forward, the report follows a report from April 2021 that explored how members were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roberta “Bobbi” Liebenberg, a principal with the Chicago-based Red Bee Group, which designed and managed the survey, told the Journal: “This survey is really a follow-up to see how things changed over the course of these last two years in terms of how lawyers are practicing, how we think they are going to continue to practice and while people think COVID is over, our data shows there has been a real shift in terms of how lawyers want to work in the future,”

In addition to remote work, the latest report shares members’ views on stress; diversity, equity and inclusion; lawyer mobility and technology. It also offers feedback on resources provided by the ABA and outlines best practices legal employers can use to recruit and retain diverse lawyers.

When asked about the future, 53% of lawyers believe it is unlikely they will continue working remotely through the rest of 2022 and 2023. While remote work remains important to young lawyers, only 13% of lawyers who have practiced for more than 40 years and 19% of lawyers who have practiced between 31 and 40 years would leave their current job for one that offers a greater ability, the Journal reported. 

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