On his days wfh, John still tried to replicate the public transport commute

Clifford Chance has announced that its staff can work remotely for 50% of their time, after lockdown restrictions are eased.

A Clifford Chance spokesman said the firm "will expect everyone to work from the office for a minimum of 50% of their time" which will provide "the opportunity" for staff "to work remotely for up to 50% of their time, where the role allows it."

CC joins fellow Magic Circle firms Linklaters and Freshfields in permitting staff to split their time 50/50 between the office and home. Allen & Overy announced that staff can work remotely for 40% of their time.

"In listening to feedback from our people and considering how to support high performance, productivity and wellbeing, we believe we should work in a more agile and flexible way than we have historically," said Clifford Chance's UK Managing Partner, Michael Bates. "We are therefore looking to establish an approach that will balance flexibility with the collaboration, teamwork, creativity, training, development and other benefits we gain from spending time in our office environment."

While other City firms have also offered staff a 50/50 split between the office and home, DAC Beachcroft and Irwin Mitchell have gone further and given staff the power to decide where, when and how they work. Such an uber-flexible model has been a success at Keystone Law, which was crowned RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2021. Built on principles of remote working and work-when-you-like, Keystone's unorthodox structure has appeared designed for a Covid-afflicted landscape.

The forced absence from the office has permanently broken many people's tether to the office. And firms that don't adapt their policies to allow flexibility, may find some of their employees staying away from the office for good: a RollOnFriday survey revealed that over 50% of lawyers would swap firms if they couldn't work from home. 

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 07 May 21 07:49

It has been reported elsewhere that A&O are planning to terminate their lease early and move to offices which are set up for hotdesking. Given the hotdesking trials that are taking  place already, forcing people to come in 3 days a week to hotdesk would make people leave in droves

ShootyNotBackToStayJustVisiting 07 May 21 08:55

I'm curious: do Keystone Law pay you commission to crowbar a reference to their "uber-flexible model" into at least one news story per week?


Anonymous 07 May 21 09:10

*sigh* Keystone are a franchise, not a law firm. A very good franchise and a great way to work, from what I hear, but every single "partner" has their own service company; they are not partners, employees, shareholders or anything else of Keystone. 

Lola 07 May 21 09:28

@ 07:49

The stuff about A&O possibly terminating lease and hotdesking came out in 2016. Nothing has happened since 


Anon 07 May 21 10:21

You don’t need to be in the office - the last year has proven this.  There might be some benefits now and then to doing so, but not 50%.  It won’t work.  People have had a taste of home working and won’t like being back in offices.  

CC associate 07 May 21 10:39

50% of time in the office will be too much. One day a week in the office max is all that's needed.

Charles Roberts 07 May 21 10:48

On the basis that Keystone is regulated by the SRA, delivers legal services to fee paying clients and was awarded Law Firm of the Year by Lawyer Magazine and Roll on Friday (the clue is in the title) it is hard to argue that it is not a law firm.  It's also not actually a franchise in any sense of the word. 

Anonymous 07 May 21 11:20

@Lola -- Nice attempt at damage limitation there, but all of this has happened this year.

If you force employees to work 3 days a week in Broadgate Circus in hotdesks, you are missing the whole point of hotdesking.  Either have hotdesking and let us work mostly from home if that doesn't suit us, or let us keep our spaces and make us come in.  Trying to do both will p1ss more people off that you can imagine, particularly if partners don't have to do the same.

Keystone PR campaign 07 May 21 11:37

Shame publications (including, particularly, Legal Business) aren't forced to include #ad a-la-Instafluencers for their continual crowbar references and pieces on Keystone.


#whitewash #PR

CC Trainee 07 May 21 11:48

Agree with anon 11:20

I can see the benefits of coming into an office as I share a small 2 BR flat in East London. But coming in just to hotdesk would just be more of the same...working far too close with others for extended periods of time.

I did an internship in an advertising agency (what a mistake) and it was a hotdesk set up. Those who turned up late settled for no desks at all, or worse still, booted the interns out of theirs.

Anonymous 07 May 21 12:04

If firms want an advantage over their competitors for recruitment, surely their remote working policies will make them stand out to potential applicants, as well as keeping hold of existing staff. I would have thought the more flexibility, the better.

It's been proven that WFH works. While some people want to be back in the office, there are a considerable number who prefer remote working, and not just for 50% of their time. Firms should trust staff to decide what works for them.

If other Firms follow DAC Beachcroft and Irwin Mitchell allowing staff to choose, that could be a real differentiator in the job market.

Anonymous 07 May 21 13:53

I find the hot desk debate quite amusing. In my view, it only works well when desks aren't pre-booked as it prevents arguments about turfing out squatters. With booked systems, I've seen people book out desks indefinitely, 'set up home' at a hot desk to prevent it being used by anyone else, and staff develop phantom illnesses so 'their' desk and chair is permanently ring-fenced for them. I nearly forgot the chair issue; try adjusting a different chair each morning to fit your posture! It soon being a royal pain in the bum. Last thought, finding someone in a hot desk environment also takes longer as well as they are never in the same place twice.

Fake Partner 07 May 21 14:25

Meanwhile our living in 1985 Managing Partner has just issued our firm's WFH policy. We are allowed one day WFH a week, but not Monday. The request has to be approved in advance by HR. Way to be treat employees and partners like children, after we have all worked from home without a blip since March 2020. Can't wait to hand in my notice shortly. 

Anonymous 07 May 21 16:12

@ Anon 12:04 

Spot on. A 50% working from home policy would have been very progressive before Covid. But the way we now work has moved on significantly from that.

In my role I don't need to physically be in the office for half of my working life. The majority of my work is screen based, and a lot of meetings are going to continue to be virtual, or on the phone, anyway. 50% in the office is far too much time. A group team meeting every couple of weeks would tick the box for the amount of time needed to come into the office and see colleagues in person and go for a beer.

I never thought I would be envious of lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, but they've taken the correct approach on this.  

I don't blame @Fake Partner 14:25 for wanting to hand in their notice.

Anonymous 07 May 21 20:12

I only want to work in the office on Monday and Friday.


Monday to get a good start to the week and Friday to slope off early for beers.

Easypickings 07 May 21 23:26

It’s about time law firms let their lawyers make decisions like the adults they are. Trust and respect your people and they won’t let you down. 
It’s tiring reading comments about Keystone not being a proper law firm or it being a franchise. I’m at Keystone, and have been for many years. My practice is no different to when I was a partner at various (well known) City law firms, I continue to work in teams, have a solid client base (of my own) that generates work and fees for all lawyers on my deals and I support other lawyers when I can. Everyone I work with are genuinely really nice folk, which is more than I can say for my previous firms. The key difference is that we are not sucked into pointless repetitive partner meetings or toxic office politics. We focus on law and law alone. I wouldn’t go back to the traditional model for anything. And, not that it should matter, I’m not anywhere close to retirement, nor am I part time or was I pushed out. Quite the contrary. I’m no longer feeding the mouths of lazy partners. But, who I am to judge, having worked at both a traditional law firm set up and Keystone...? 

Toby Greenlord, Freeman on the Land 08 May 21 07:44

I never did my homework.

Didn't stop me from being a successful litigant in person.

My advice?

Study The Magna Carter.  It's all the law you need.

Anonymous 08 May 21 07:48

Nothing from SM? No doubt their offering to staff (if they’ve even set them up to work from home properly yet!) will be inferior to the rest of the MC firms. 

Anonymous 09 May 21 11:47

Interesting where some members of the "public" are choosing to downvote or upvote.  It's almost as if someone is trying to deflect attention away from a proposed plan of action they know will be unpopular.

Anonymous 10 May 21 13:08

"I’m at Keystone, and have been for many years. My practice is no different to when I was a partner at various (well known) City law firms"

Yes, but that's probably exactly why you didn't last at the actual law firm.

Toby Greenlord, Freeman on the Land 11 May 21 16:29

You can vote me down all you want.

I'm known for it in Cheam.

Mavis D’Iles 11 May 21 21:32

The last year has been a gigantic real life experiment that possibly would have taken another 10 years to have occurred if it hadn’t been for Covid. That experiment has shown - incontrovertibly - that WFH works. Not only a bit, a second best or a make do, but in most cases far better than the traditional office set up: I sleep more, I eat with my family, I potter around in the garden, I put my children to bed, and I go for nice walks in my neighbourhood. All while billing a solid 7 or 8, and receiving a Covid bonus to boot because of the spare cash swilling around. None of that would have been possible before. I would be eating prêt and canteen meals and slumping into a taxi after another long day in the city. Of course there are trade offs - I miss Friday beers mostly, and perhaps it is harder for the young’ uns to learn the trade. We hear a lot of bluster about innovation, and ‘forward thinking’ but over the next few months we will see which firms are truly innovative and which cling to a 1950s model. I dare say many will vote with their feet if management are determined to shackle their lawyers once more to the commute and desk grind. 

Anon 13 May 21 14:40

Someone needs to tell the train companies to introduce part time season tickets as a working mum in the city I gave up as going part time became too expensive to travel a few days a week by train. 

Easypickings 13 May 21 20:53

Anonymous 10 May 21 13:08, “probably exactly why you didn't last at the actual law firm.” Probably or exactly?  Neither, thanks. But kind of you to ask. 

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