atlantic house dream

'Soon...soon we'll be together again.'

Hogan Lovells’ long-term plan for a return to the office in the UK will see staff working on-site for a minimum of three days a week. However, trainees will be expected to come in to the office for at least four days a week.

The firm foresees the majority of its people returning to the office in mid-September, for at least 60% of the working week (although the Epsilon variant might disagree).

Announcing the plans, Hogan Lovells said it believed there were considerable benefits to office-based working, such as collaboration, fostering a spirit of teamwork, knowledge sharing, and training, "which are fundamental to our ability to do our best work and deliver great results for our clients". 

The learning benefits of face-to-face interactions meant Hogan Lovells' trainees will be expected to appear in person for 80% of the time, when it's safe to do so.

"Given the nature of the trainee role, we believe that it is beneficial for the trainee population to attend the office more frequently", explained Crispin Rapinet, Hogan Lovells' Training Principal.  

"The training contract is a short period of time - just six months in each of four seats - when trainees are busy learning all the time in person and through osmosis", he said. "It is therefore really important that they are able to take full advantage of the opportunities and the support on offer. As such, we would not expect our trainees to work remotely for more than one day per week”.

Hogan Lovells' hybrid plan is similar to those proposed by Magic Circle firms Freshfields and Linklaters, both of which are aiming for 50% office working.

A poll of over 2,500 law firm staff conducted by RollOnFriday last June found that 55% of lawyers and business services staff only wanted to come in for a maximum of two days a week when the pandemic was over, while a separate poll found that 54% of respondents would consider leaving their firm if it prevented them from working from home for most of the week.

But it's been a long 12 months since then, and perhaps the novelty of only having irl meetings with an urban fox has worn off. Or has it? POLLLLL!

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 25 June 21 09:16

I'm a senior associate at HL and honestly - f*ck that. I can concentrate, supervise trainees better from home and am more accessible to them - and my hours are up 20%. There are no chatty pests hoovering up my working hours. If anyone tries to enforce more than 1 day a week in the low-productivity, open-plan AH, I might actually go and meet some of those recruiters who call me 5 times a week. In lockdown, I have reconnected with my spouse and am no longer saying goodnight to my kids on the telephone in the evening. So if you want to try to take that away from me, you can stick it up your Shoe Lane goods entrance.

Anonymous 25 June 21 09:24

They are offering more than some firms. I’m at a national firm and there’s no indication that wfh will be an option past July - it’s always been “we will see how it goes” when we all know that it won’t be an option and when people leave, they will wonder why. All my firm has managed to do is continue the spread of covid as when anyone in the offices get covid (over 50 now who have been in the office…) they just say oh we’ve cleaned the desk they were on but nobody needs to isolate and the offices are still open….

LondonLife 25 June 21 09:30


TBH it sounds like your preference is strongly due to personal reasons, rather than what is good for the firm or trainees. That is fine but don't pretend it is anything other than that.

There is no way you can supervise trainees better from home. They clearly can't pick up on stylistic mannerisms as much as if you were working around each other constantly during the working day. 

I'm a senior associate too and I do feel for the trainees at the moment as I know I was broken down and built back up while I was a trainee.

Brillers 25 June 21 09:32

The variants are labelled using Greek letters (Gamma, Delta, Epsilon) not the NATO phonetic alphabet (Charlie, Delta, Echo).

Anon 25 June 21 09:54


I'm an associate at HL and TBH I think it does depend on your seniority and living situation.  As a senior associate you probably are very self-sufficient at work and are settled into skills which you developed partially through osmosis as a trainee and junior associate.  I'm glad you can spend more time with your family and that your housing situation seems to be good enough that it isn't negatively impacting your health.

But I know a lot of trainees in my team are shut into tiny rented rooms and crawling from bed to desk to bed again, and a lot of them are struggling to develop client-facing and project management skills because they simply don't get to overhear conversations and phone calls in the office.  As (very general) rule of thumb the more junior you are the more being in an office environment can be more helpful. 

You may find supervising your trainee easier while WFH, but it's worth thinking about whether your trainee may find it easier to learn from you while working from the office. 

Anonymous 25 June 21 09:58

Associate at HL here. SA at 09:16, not sure where the vitriol is coming from. If you'd listened to the town hall earlier in the week, you would know that the 60% rule is intended to be a "guiding principle" and that individual teams will have flexibility around that depending on what works for them. If you can work effectively from home and the partners you work for aren't particularly dogmatic about being in the office then I'd envisage that you could probably work from home more than 40% of the week without much fuss.

Also agree with 09:30 on the supervision point. I don't buy the whole "I can supervise trainees better from home" thing. As a trainee having your supervisor across your desk so you can ask questions throughout the working day and listen in on phone calls (and therefore pick up best practice on things like client manner etc.) is invaluable. It's quite obvious that you don't get that working from home.   

Anonymous 25 June 21 09:59

9:30 - nope. It's a question of choice: it's better for everyone to be able to choose. If the trainees want to come in, super!


I can walk trainees through documents and switch between them more easily on a video call than if I were sitting next to them. We are no longer constrained by the number of people in a meeting room for attending calls and the comms with the clients are much more frequent. "Mannerisms" come through more strongly on a video call than they ever did on a telephone conference call. I am much more accessible to trainees and those in different departments we collaborate with at HL as I don't spend 2.5 hours a day travelling to Sh!tty Thameslink. The tax team, for example, has always been a bit more flexible, even pre-lockdown.

It might be that you're an extrovert and you love the office "bants", which is great. Go there if it works for you. It makes no sense for me though.

Anon 25 June 21 10:10

100% agree with LondonLife. There is the "learning by osmosis" factor that you just can't get when you aren't in (and I think it applies to NQs as well as trainees to be honest). 

I think its very easy to overlook that when you move to the fabled back desk that actually, people are probably learning from seeing how you do things, how you manage tricky calls etc, even if they aren't directly involved!

Anonymous 25 June 21 10:29

"it's better for everyone to be able to choose"

Self-evidently wrong.

Of course it's better for you if you get to have your own way; but that may well cause a negative impact on others / the firm more widely. The idea that everyone just selfishly doing their own thing automatically equals the best result for everyone collectively is adolescent nonsense that most people grow out of at around the age of 18 (unless you are Ayn Rand, in which case "Hi Ayn!").

Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow and all that.

Anonymous 25 June 21 10:33

I do enjoy how any thread about working from home, here or elsewhere, is guaranteed to draw at least one remarkably extreme introvert who will fill the place up with posts doggedly (to the point of aggressively) insisting that they are doing absolutely amazingly from home now that they don't have to speak to anyone, and that it's ker-azy that anyone should ever suggest that them leaving their own home and seeing their colleagues face to face might have any possible benefits. 

Every time I see one I get a chuckle out of the fact that they think we're the mad ones.


Anonymous 25 June 21 11:02

Don't know for sure who negged me; but I'm pretty sure that you're the kind of 'introverted' person who appears on Extreme Hoarders being helped to clear carefully preserved bags of their own poop out of the second bedroom, all the while insisting that they're doing great at home on their own.

Anonymous 25 June 21 11:36

What is this strange "supervision" of which you speak? When I was a trainee in the hallowed corridors of Messrs Lovell, White and Durrant, there was a traditional ceremony whereby a partner would wait until the very last minute when something required urgent attention. They would then affix the holy "Please deal" post-it note to a bulging, but alas incomplete, sacred file before giving it as an offering on a trainee's desk and leaving that very instant for Bermuda. 

Anonymous 25 June 21 11:39

According to the poll, 63% want to work 2 days or fewer in the office. Not much appetite for business as usual, by the look of it.

Anonymous 25 June 21 11:48


2.5 hours a day on Thameslink?!  God that's a long way.  How selfish of HL to make you live that far away from the office.

Anonymous 25 June 21 13:05

Isn't it odd the way extroverts often try really hard to make out that introverts are the exception, but more than 60% of us want to work away from the office for more than 40% of the week or less. Remember the Colin Hunt character from the Fast Show? Just to give extroverts a bit of self-awareness: to introverts, chatty people are a bit like him.

Frooty 25 June 21 13:09

On that survey, the number who want to work 4-5 days looks like 12%-ish, so about 1 in 8. The old days of the office as the default workplace have gone the way of wax seals and ribbons on affidavits.

??? 25 June 21 14:08

What is the purpose of trainees working an extra day in the office if other associates/partners/supervisors will not be around?

Ex-HL 25 June 21 14:46

Oh, him.

(Surely if the trainees are going to be in the office four days a week, the people training them also have to be?  Also, no.  Change the way you train, this is the new normal, we are not going back to the old ways.)

I'm also very glad I left before the godawful open plan floor became a thing I would have been subjected to, saw it just before I left, completely horrific.

Boring Lawyer 25 June 21 14:56

What's the evidence base for 'learning by osmosis'?  What are trainees picking up from one side of a telephone conversation that they couldn't get by being a part of a full Teams call? Why can't you ask a random stupid question over the office chat function instead of doing it in person?  

A lot of these assumptions are rooted in the idea that the traditional way of bringing through trainees is the best and only way, from the mouths of people who were trained that way and can't envisage  anything else.  Ultimately clients' ways of working are going to drastically change and firms are going to have to do better in understanding how a flexible workforce can operate.

CaptainUnderpants 25 June 21 16:56

Looks like only about 4% want to go back to 5 days a week in the office. Bad news for office chatterboxes, unfortunately.

Anon 25 June 21 18:07

Flexible working in the true sense, i.e., not some glib and impenetrable management-speak rubbish that a few firms have rolled out pretending they are accommodating the desire of employees to have a flexible working pattern but in reality are saying “get back to the office full-time or else”, is here to stay. It will be a retention and attraction factor alongside salary and quality of work. Firms who ignore it are in for a shock

Anon 25 June 21 18:09

Flexible working in the true sense, i.e., not some glib and impenetrable management-speak rubbish that a few firms have rolled out pretending they are accommodating the desire of employees to have a flexible working pattern but in reality are saying “get back to the office full-time or else”, is here to stay. It will be a retention and attraction factor alongside salary and quality of work. Firms who ignore it are in for a shock

Messi 25 June 21 20:19

If I had a £ for every time I heard “junior people learn from hearing you on the phone”. What a load of rubbish. They learn from having their work reviewed and constructive feedback. They don’t need their hands holding. 

And all these crazy cats wanting to get back to the office for “bants”. Grow up. Solicitors are boring and we all know it. Get your chargeable hours in and get on with your life.  

Anon at a national firm 25 June 21 20:53

I work at a big national firm.  Our hours are massively up on any year in the past.  Utilisation is running at about 120% against a target of 96%.  If we go back in that will drop down to 96% or less as people won't be getting in for 7:30am when most people are now online.  They will be leaving a whole heap earlier than they are logging off at home.

Firms are just machines for delivering massive returns for the equity partners.  As soon as that is threatened then all of this wanting people to be in 3 days a week will be straight out the window.

This is in the regions where our commutes are a shorter than those working in London, we probably average 40 minutes.  Mates working on Canary Wharf and in EC4 have crazy commutes.  The impact on the London office will be way more.

It comes down to cold, hard cash.  The rich, white, old men will soon stop harking back to the good old days of the late 80s when PEP is threatened.

Anonymous 25 June 21 22:36


…Perhaps not all of the associates and partners will pick the same three days to come in to the office?

City lawyer 26 June 21 08:14

I am sick and tired of these “so glad to be back in the office LinkedIn posts”. These are typically posted by the same blowhards who annoyed everyone on the LPC. Jumped up egocentric lawyers who spend their lives trying to impress the partners. Perhaps those who are working at home should celebrate the fact thy are staying at home more openly 

Badiucao 26 June 21 15:48

Anon at a national firm - it's the same across the board. The office-junkies know that the home-workers are more productive; showing them up and making them look like the under-peformers that they are. Misery loves company.

It's a new way of training as well as a new way of working. We just need to adjust. That cheese has been moved.

Noob 26 June 21 17:58

The whole idea that everyone has to work in the same way is obviously wrong. If trainees/juniors are shacked up somewhere cramped/unsuitable to work, it's usually because they have to live somewhere urban/suburban because of the commute. It's actually an argument for making them work in the office less enabling them to move out and afford somewhere more spacious.

"Osmosis" (i.e. listening in in open plan) is a haphazard way to learn - we should have structured training which sets standards to ensure remote training works.

Harry Williams 26 June 21 20:37

Given how HL underpay their senior associates (especially those working in high-margin departments) and how they have turned several floors of their office into an actively unpleasant and productivity-killing open floor plan, one might have imagined that they would have taken the opportunity to win people back by offering a little more flexibility.

This goes for all UK firms. You're underpaying and overworking your associates and you don't have the basic decency to throw them a bone US-style. WFH is free and doesn't eat into the partners' profits. Higher salaries and more reasonable working hours are not. 

Moat & Co 27 June 21 08:54

As third year associate  at CGCH, it’s been wonderful to have a better worklife balance outside the office. If the partners assume they can bring me back to office and work those ridiculous hours once again, we’ll they can stick it where the sun don’t shine. There are plenty of other firms who offer far better perks post COVID.

Watch this space.

George Graham 27 June 21 12:57

There's plenty of demand for associates and if people don't like the policy, they can leave for another firm whose policy they prefer. If it is right that 54% of respondents would consider leaving their firm if it prevented them from WFH most of the week, firms that are too dogmatic about this are going to have to flex or suffer in the war for staff. I don't buy this idea about learning from listening to (one side of) a phone call, btw - just sounds like a (bad) attempt to justify forcing people in.

Amused anon 27 June 21 14:33

Reading these comments makes me chuckle.  If half the folks claiming to stick their jobs "where the sun don't shine" actually do anything more than bash out their threats on a keyboard, it sounds like HR are going to have a very cushty year ahead not longer having to worry about managing out bad apples. 

The demand for associates is limited to those who have good work ethic, team spirit and care about the success of the firms they work for, not so much the wallys who think they can justify earning in at the top 5% of UK workers while sitting around in their pyjamas and swanning down to the garden shed pub at 5pm.

Sting in the tail 28 June 21 07:03

I have to agree with Moat & Co, there are so many other firms outside CGSH that are offering  first class lawyers better perks. If the hat don’t fit , move on. 

Mid level partner 28 June 21 11:11

I get a lot of mixed messages here. First off we were told Gen Z was the digital generation, that fossils like me using email and water cooler talk represented the outdated mode of working and learning. So we really went all out with this digital approach with digital workflow, real time editing of shared documents and more. And I make sure that I get juniors in on Teams meetings with clients and involve them digitally where possible, and that is often.

This, we used to read, is what they wanted. And now they do not want it? Someone please explain what is going on.

Life skills 28 June 21 13:39

You’ll need a pretty big hat to work at CGSH, they tend to through all their hats off the top floor and wait for the car crash of the associates burn out.

Anonymous 28 June 21 17:27

if I was in any of the Finance teams at HL, especially the restructuring one, I would insist on a 5 day wfh policy. Anything to avoid in person interaction with some of those bullies, weirdos, and creeps...

Fake Partner 29 June 21 22:48

Meanwhile in Boston.....This is why I will soon be leaving my firm, where the dictator living in 1985 managing partner has told us we are lucky to have one day WFH a week, and it has to be cleared through HR. Of course he wants us all back in the firm so he can have his boring and useless firm wide meetings in the main conference room - just to feed his ego. 

In my new firm, the WFH policy is "feel like working at home? Work from home. Want to come into the office? Come in to the office." I have also given myself a Euro style 30 days vacation a year. 

Associates in need 30 June 21 02:45

I refer to Moat and Co’s comments. There are many of us at the London office that have had to sacrifice our family life for the blood sucking partners. Under no circumstances will I be retuning back as a slave to their trade. I’d rather take a lesser salary elsewhere to put my children to bed at night - enough said.

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