Freshfield – Latest Law Firm to allow 50% home working

The UK firm has joined a growing list of organisations allowing staff to divide their time between home and the office.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has become the latest magic circle firm to allow lawyers and staff to work remotely for up to half of their time on the clock.

Announced on Monday, the firm’s new agile working policy will allow Freshfields lawyers – including trainees – and business professionals to spend up to 50% of their hours working from home on the condition that their arrangements take account of client and business commitments.

Freshfields said the policy is an “interim approach” and that staff preferences may change once offices reopen.

Claire Wills, Freshfields’ London office managing partner, said: “Our guidance follows feedback from colleagues who signalled a clear preference for more flexibility but also recognises the importance of in-person interaction to our culture, personal development and client engagement.”

Olivia Balson, director of Freshfields’ Global Centre in Manchester, stressed the Centre’s importance to the connection and development of staff at the firm. “At the same time, we strongly believe in the value of a balance between remote and office-based working,” she said.

Freshfields is the latest in a swathe of law firms granting staff the ability to work from home as they feel appropriate. Taylor Wessing moved to adopt a “hybrid” work model in November, while Dentons, Slater & Gordon and other firms closed several offices in a shift towards remote working.

Staff at Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright have also been allowed to conduct 50% of their work from home under new rules. Other firms, like Cushman & Wakefield, have not been so quick to shift away from the office environment.

“One of the huge problems in the real estate industry is that people will over-simplify how they use their real estate going forward,” said C&W partner James Campbell at a Professional Practices Alliance webinar. “The reality is in 12 or 24 months’ time, when we get to the new normal, they will say ‘actually we probably needed more space.”


Norton Rose Fulbright cuts 132 roles — majority in London

Norton Rose Fulbright’s London office

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) is to cut over 130 roles across its Europe, Middle East and Asia offices, it confirmed on Friday, with London taking the biggest hit.

The international law firm is to make 114 staff redundant in its London HQ, including 19 associates and counsel. The vast majority of cuts affect secretaries and business services staff.

“We have taken the decision to restructure our business services operating model to set us up to lead and thrive in a period of change and uncertainty,” Peter Scott, EMEA managing partner said. “Our resilient performance over 2020 allows us to make these changes now.”

He continued: “Our new operating model will help us serve our clients as effectively and efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, a number of colleagues who have made important contributions will leave us. We have followed a process that is as fair, robust and sensitive as possible, to bring a swift resolution.”

In the wake of the pandemic, a number of major legal players have made job cuts.

In December, Addleshaw Goddard cut 19 lawyer roles across its UK offices following a redundancy consultation, while Reed Smith made thirteen lawyers and six support staff redundant last summer. Other firms to make cuts include Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Shoosmiths and Squire Patton Boggs.