City firms have reined in their office return plans in the wake of new coronavirus restrictions, with trainee entrants starting their careers online. 

International firm Stephenson Harwood is no longer encouraging staff to work from the office two days a week and said it expects a drop in the number of people travelling to work. However, it will keep its premises open for employees who cannot do their job remotely or who are struggling to work effectively at home.

Meanwhile, Hogan Lovells has paused its office re-entry plans, reverting to its pre-pilot phase of remote working with immediate effect.

Solicitors at Eversheds Sutherland have also been told to work from home despite the announcement of ‘phase one’ of its reopening, in which 25% of staff were due to return to 10 UK offices.

A spokesperson for the firm said: ‘We will be allowing limited attendance for the reasons of undertaking a work-based task which it would be materially more effective and efficient to undertake in the office as will issues relating to welfare and wellbeing.’

Trainee solicitors at Eversheds Sutherland have been working from home and continuing with their training contracts since March. Almost 50 new trainees joined the firm this month and commenced their training contracts with a virtual induction.

Firms had tentatively begun to reopen their premises following months of homeworking. At Freshfields, one cohort of staff were due to move to new City skyscraper 100 Bishopsgate this month, while Allen & Overy had opened its London office to all employees on a voluntary basis on alternate weeks.


*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.