The attached article talks about the enforcement of in-house lawyers to come back to work on-site, despite their predominant desire for a remote or heavily hybrid model (64% of American lawyers report they don’t want to go back to the office full-time).
One of the primary drivers for this is the lack of progress in-house law departments have made in adopting technology that supports remote work. Combined with some limitations in technology capabilities amongst these in-house lawyers, a sub-optimal working (and therefore retention) model seems to be developing.
Though the article indicates that litigation management and contract management technologies were the top priorities for legal teams, it implies that the challenge outlined above is more widespread.
One of the areas not mentioned in the article but is widely known as a challenge is technology accessibility. To address the common need of balancing professional and personal priorities, persons with disabilities can often more easily navigate these priorities in a remote vs. on-site environment.
If a law department focuses on making technology more universally accessible, it will move forward the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) agenda and increase overall morale and retention for all lawyers who prefer to work remotely. So, how can this be put into action?
The overall challenge of increasing technology adoption typically falls on the shoulders of legal operations. These professionals are not just the technology hub point for the law department but are also the primary mechanism for converting ambition into action. As such, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) has established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to identify challenges such as technology accessibility and leverage the wisdom of the CLOC community to outline strategies and practices that can help law departments navigate these challenges. This Committee outlined a charter and will meet again at the CLOC Global Institute in May in Las Vegas to continue making progress.
As with many things in the practice of law, legal operations is at the crux.
Most in-house lawyers aren’t enthusiastic about returning to the office full time, but many legal departments have been slow to adopt the technology that would facilitate fully remote work.