The majority of in-house lawyers do not want a full-time return to office working – despite almost half of them already being back in five days a week.
A survey of 350 in-house lawyers based in the UK and US found that 66% would rather that their employer adopt a work-from-home policy. Of these, respondents were split equally between those wanting hybrid working and those wanting to be remote full-time.
But despite these preferences, half of respondents said they are already back in the office full-time, with 57% of UK-based respondents and 44% of US-based lawyers reporting this. Only 17% of in-house lawyers said they work under a hybrid model.
The results suggest some lingering resentment at company policies towards in-house legal teams, and the potential for those recruiting in a competitive job market to advertise based on flexibility about where candidates would be expected to work.
Intransigence about approving hybrid working may also provide a boost to fully digital law firms, who enable lawyers to work as consultants working remotely – often joining in-house legal teams on secondment.
Mark Rhodes, managing director of software supplier ContractWorks, which commissioned the research, said: ‘The results of our research may come as a wake up call to legal department bosses, many of who saw their teams remain in the office throughout the pandemic. Like most sectors, there is now a real appetite amongst in-house lawyers, both in the UK and the US, to be able to work from home for good.’
More than half of in-house lawyers (57%) agreed that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new legal technology by at least three years. Lack of resources and departmental budgetary restraints were identified as among the main obstacles to the successful adoption of technology, with almost a third saying a lack of technological literacy was holding their business back.
The findings were based on responses from 100 lawyers in the UK land 250 in the US.