"But I like having the office all to myself on Mondays with my imaginary friends.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is changing its agile working policy to require lawyers to spend four days a week in the office. Although it hasn't yet made a decision on business services staff. 

The US firm's current policy is for lawyers to be in the office three days a week, from Tuesday to Thursday. But the firm has now told its lawyers that from September they will have to be in the office for a minimum of four days a week; with the option to only work from home on Fridays.

A Skadden spokeswoman said: “By affording attorneys the flexibility to work remotely on Fridays and during specified periods throughout the year, our modified hybrid work model will harness the best aspects of remote working while fueling innovation and professional development through more frequent in-person collaboration.”

RollOnFriday understands that the policy will apply to Skadden's lawyers, but the firm has yet to determine whether to bring professional services staff into the office for four days as well. It is a global policy, although there will be some flexibility for each office to differ slightly, according to region.

An insider told RollOnFriday that there are “a lot of discontented Skadden Associates in London” who are “not happy with the new policy to force us in 4 days a week.” The source said: “People will leave for firms that allow better flexibility.” 

Presumably Skadden's management feels that chaining lawyers to the office is fair, given that they are using golden chains; NQs are on a base salary of £165k and juniors earn more than many partners make at other firms. But, for now, Skadden does seem to be an outlier when it comes to demanding four days in the office, even compared with most other US firms in the City. 

At Goodwin Procter (where NQs are paid £160k) lawyers are required to be in the office three days per week, "other than those individuals with specific flexible working arrangements to the contrary," a spokesman confirmed. The firm also offers staff the opportunity to take up a block of "one week per quarter to work from somewhere other than the office." 

Another top-paying US firm in the City, Kirkland & Ellis, also has a policy of three days a week in the office, rather than four.

At Sidley Austin, (where NQ salary is £159,500) the firm does not have a formal remote working policy per se, but RollOnFriday understands that staff tend to come into the office around three days a week.

The likes of Shearman & Sterling, White & Case and Ropes & Gray (which all pay their NQs in the £140k+ bracket), require their lawyers to be in the office for three days a week.

Taking a flexible approach, Gibson Dunn (which pays its NQs £162k) has in the past told its London-based lawyers that they are free to organise their own office schedules and can work from home when appropriate. 

However, perhaps closer to the Skadden model, Paul Hastings has previously suggested that its lawyers should not work from home, hinting at a flexible structure akin to an ironing board.

In the Magic Circle: Freshfields, Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May require three days in the office. But Linklaters and Clifford Chance offer more remote working with a 50/50 split between home and the office. 

At the most flexible end of the legal spectrum, DAC Beachcroft and Irwin Mitchell offer staff the option to work remotely full time. On the flip-side, when it comes to salaries, DAC Beachcroft NQs in London are on a minimum salary of £70k, while at Irwin Mitchell NQ salary ranges from £55-73k (depending on business area).  

RollOnFriday poll last year of over 4,500 lawyers and law firm staff revealed that there was a huge preference towards WFH for at least the majority of the week.

And early results in the RollOnFriday In-House lawyers survey indicate that most clients are happy for their lawyers to work from home.  

"WFH has clear benefits for many people and leads to more relaxed, balanced habits," said one client. "We'd like our lawyers to be trusted to get things done without them being chained to their desks."

Another in-house lawyer said: "I want them to work however suits them and enables them to do my work in a way that doesn't screw up their mental health."

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US Associate 02 June 23 09:19

I’m sure our control freak dinosaur partnership will emulate this soon.  Three days is sufficient for meetings, culture and learning.  Anything more is just a pathetic refusal to acknowledge that modern technology means people do not always need to be chained to their desks.

Anon 02 June 23 09:31

Worth noting that the policy applies only to Associates and Counsel. Partners can continue not to come in as they wish, so the Associates and Counsel will be forced to come in more often without any expectation that the elusive 'in-person collaboration' will actually be furthered...

Anon 02 June 23 09:34

People will simply leave to go where they can do two or three days in the office as many firms will continue to offer that 

Alumni 02 June 23 09:45

I believe associates are required to work in the office 5 days by default at Debevoise and PH

Predictable 02 June 23 09:51

I suspect the implementation of this official policy will make little difference to how associates at US firms like Skadden are already working. Office attendance goes hand in hand with the Faustian pact that people make when they join these firms. No one will leave for “better flexibility” because the price of that flexibility is a lower salary. 

Do the whole “US firm” thing when you’re in your 20s, but when you want to have a family it’s time to head for a more humane work/life balance (including flexible working, hey it’s 2023…)

Free Agent Limo 02 June 23 09:51

If you doing well at any firm and building your brand / goodwill etc, I'm not sure you'd blow it all off for the sake of another day in the office.

Larry 02 June 23 09:56

My understanding is Skadden struggle to recruit in London already, given its reputation as a horrible sweatshop. This won't help.

Anonymous 02 June 23 10:14

“People will leave for firms that allow better flexibility.”

Huffed and puffed a junior associate who really wanted the partners to tell them that they could work from home whenever they wanted but who, for all of the grumbling, showed curiously few signs of actually moving towards the exit door. 


Next week's Article: Skadden Juniors go precisely nowhere and all come into the office as instructed to collect the enormous wedge.

Well, actually one did leave, but we got a hungry young buck in from Freshfields to replace them the next day so nobody really noticed.

An insider told RoF "I was outraged at the idea of working from an office so called a recruiter and they were like '£120k in-house and all the flexibility that you want' and I suddenly had second thoughts about taking an £80k a year pay cut and decided that maybe I could motivate myself to get on the tube after all". 

Another told our intrepid reporter "It turned out that empty threats with no intention of following through didn't change the minds of the partnership, and that there is a long queue of high-quality applicants willing to replace every single one of us, so we've set up a DEI committee as an alternative method of throwing youthful tantrums in the workplace that have no actual effect on any part of the business that is client-facing or makes money" we understand that they're asking for a quiet room for people who self-identify as neurodiverse to sit in and cry when things become overwhelming.

Anonymous 02 June 23 10:16

Larry 09:56

No worse than K&E, Latham, STB etc. though. These kind of firms pay for your soul, they expect to receive it.

Nick 02 June 23 10:20

Does Aladdin have any evidence that they are losing innovation and professional development through hybrid working ? 

surely they work on international deals where teams are effectively remote to each other?

Where is the evidence that the revised working conditions will have a positive impact?

Larry 02 June 23 10:29

@ 0956 - Skadden seem to have a worse reputation than the others, and they are also the first to demand four day a week in the office.

@ 1014 - they (or their potential replacements) can move to one of the other mega-paying US firms that don't have a four day a week in the office policy.   I'm sure they'll always find new candidates, but will they attract the creme de la creme?

Anonymous 02 June 23 10:46


Worse reputation than K&Es 3000 billables? We must be speaking to different people. I'm not saying Skadden is good by any means, but it seems disingenuous to suggest you'd have a better worklife balance at other elite US.

Anonymous 02 June 23 10:55

Standing back you can see the glide path. Skadden will be back to six days a week in the office before you know it.

Anonymous 02 June 23 11:15

"My understanding is Skadden struggle to recruit in London already, given its reputation as a horrible sweatshop."

Yeah, it's a real struggle to find willing candidates.

Until they say £165k for starters, and then it suddenly gets really easy.



But yes, of course, imminent demise of their London office for saying West-End Partner wages for juniors means doing the week in the office. Any day now.

Larry 02 June 23 11:54

@1115 - at NQ level sure, but after they've burned out their juniors and they've left at 2/3/4 PQE, less easy to lateral in their replacements.  I get calls almost every week from recruiters trying to fill roles at mega money US firms, and it's the same firms that have been constantly recruiting for a number of years now.  Yet despite the prospect of a chunky pay rise I'm not tempted to move, and their reputation means even if I was I'd choose e.g., Gibson Dunn over Skadden due to things like their WFH policy, reputation for better culture etc.  They'll always be able to recruit, but will they recruit the best and will they be able to retain their talent?

Skadden business services 02 June 23 12:20

Business service staff are not on the mega salaries of lawyers. If the firm mandates that we also have to be in the office 4 days a week, there will be a huge incentive for us to leave for another firm that pays the same but offers more remote working.

We work equally well at home. Doing 4 days in the office is going to be impractical for those of us with young children and home commitments. 

Anonymous 02 June 23 13:18

"They'll always be able to recruit, but will they recruit the best and will they be able to retain their talent?"

Yes and Yes.

People who don't want to work at a big US Sweatshop like to imagine that their collapse is coming any minute now, but year after year the model proves itself out as market beatingly successful.

The unpleasant truth is that while big law firms (of all kinds) like to market themselves as being hothouses staffed by unique geniuses, the truth is that only a limited amount of cutting edge intellectual talent is required for most of the work that they do. As businesss they excel at delivering process at scale, which is where most of their revenue comes from. Sure some of what they do is legally innovative, but that's a much more minor part of the balance sheet. Accordingly the skillset that they most demand, and which they need an army of associates to supply, is being conscientious, extremely hard working, and paying attention to fine detail.

That's a skillset which is available in bulk at Magic and Silver Circle firms across the land. From which you can easily cherry pick if you are willing to pay over market for it.

Like all big firms Skadden (and all the US Sweatshops) work on an attritional model whereby they need x% of junior associates to fall away at each year of PQE, gradually sharpening down to a small cohort who go on to become partners. So the churn of associates that you describe isn't a bug, it's a feature. The main difference between UK and US firms is that UK firms pick their churnable associates up as trainees, whereas US firms prefer to pick them up in bulk as very junior associates.

To the extent that a place like Skadden needs 'the best' then they lateral them in at partner level or just bung the brightest stars in their associate pool oversize bonuses to keep them on. It's worked for decades and isn't about to change.

The idea that they (or any other big firm) need or even want a workforce comprised entirely of superstar intellectual talents who stay put for life is just naive.

What they really want is a pyramid shaped staffing structure peopled by conscientious workaholics who are willing to spend several years of their life running the fine detail of large transactional and litigation projects in return for large sums of money. Those people are not rare.

Job seeker 02 June 23 13:24

Thoughts on under-the-radar US like Paul Hastings and Ropes? 4 PQE MC finance associate 

Anonymous 02 June 23 13:42

"Business service staff are not on the mega salaries of lawyers."


But they are market-leading compared to the salaries of BS staff at competitor firms (Magic, Silver, etc). So you too are replaceable by a long line of people who would be very happy to receive a pay rise in return for just coming into the office like they used to before the Pandemic. 

By all means, choose flexibility over money (I do), but when a job is top-of-market salary the organisation will be able to find someone who is willing to do it.

Skadden partners are not worried about people vaguely threatening to leave. Most won't. Those who do will be replaced by equally talented people who are wiling to come into an office in return for extra money.

It's a harsh truth. But it is the truth.

@ 1318 02 June 23 14:30

You're missing the point. The argument wasn't that US firms won't be able to attract talent.  It was that Skadden won't in London, if other mega money US firms continue to allow flexible working.

Baffled 02 June 23 14:45

I continue to be baffled with how junior lawyers under 5 years PQ feel that their careers are advanced by working from home.

Modern technology is great, but it cannot replace the building of human relationships in person.

Out of sight is often out of mind.

Anonymous 02 June 23 14:48

World's smallest violin for NQs on £165k, plus a bonus of course, complaining about going to the office 4 times a week.

Do have sympathy though for those non fee-earners on a fraction of salary who rely on working from home some days to manage their family lives if they're parents (unlike the lawyers many can't afford costs for nannies, extra childcare etc).

Makes sense if Skadden has a separate policy for associates on huge salaries to be in the office but allows more time at home for non fee-earners on lower salaries. If the firm forces Business Services in for 4 days a week, it can't play the salary card like it can with its lawyers, so there's bound to be an exodus of non fee-earner staff.

Anonymous 02 June 23 15:55

"You're missing the point. The argument wasn't that US firms won't be able to attract talent.  It was that Skadden won't in London, if other mega money US firms continue to allow flexible working."

No you're missing the point.

The bit you aren't engaging with is that the kind of 'talent' that Skadden needs is in abundant supply. It's not a scarce commodity; no matter what they tell undergrads/associates to motivate them.

The idea that hardworking, diligent associates who will do long hours in return for money are scarce and that other competitor US firms might somehow be able to hoover them all up and leave none for Skadden is a total misunderstanding of the market. 

For firms willing to start lawyers on £165k it's a river that doesn't dry up.

The concept of being able to wfh is no different to the concept of being able to finish work at five thirty, or of being able to take Saturdays off, or of expecting to be able to go on that holiday you booked months ago. Big firms can and do literally buy out of those expectations. They have been doing it for decades. The river of 'talent' continues to flow inexorably towards the money.


Disagree with me if you like; but the model has been working without fail for a very long time now.

The default is office working 02 June 23 16:24

My firm went for the above last year and five days a week. This led to a steady exodus and now, everyone has defaulted back to 3 and 2 and ignores our CEO’s ramblings about culture. A much happier ship for it 

@15:55 02 June 23 16:27

That argument falls apart when you realise that these firms struggle to recruit decent mid and senior level talent.  It simply isn't true that decent mid and senior associates are not a scarce commodity.  NQs, sure, but you can't have a team of two partners and twenty NQs.

Anonymous 02 June 23 18:01

"That argument falls apart when you realise that these firms struggle to recruit decent mid and senior level talent."

This would be true if they did actually struggle... but here in reality they don't. 

If they did then they wouldn't be able to afford to keep paying people the wages they do. Because they'd fall apart on the basis of being unable to staff deal teams.


You might not agree with it as a choice, but people do regularly choose a life in which they consistently work late and work weekends in return for big money and big (self perceived) prestige. They're going to keep doing the same thing in relation to going into the office.

You don't have to make the same life choices as them; but stop deluding yourself that there is any shortage of people who will willingly do this. 


Anyway, I'm done for the day, to be blunt much of the commentary here about Skadden (et al) being on the verge of falling apart and being unable to find willing employees because they expect people to come into the office in return for the best part of two hundred grand is just complete wishful thinking with no basis in reality. Which I strongly suspect comes from people struggling to come to terms with the steady march of reality and the increasing unlikelihood of them ever being paid two hundred large to sit at home in their pants.

You pay gold bars, you own them. 02 June 23 20:56

They pay pretty top whack for a law firm so they get to beast all their lawyers. don’t expect the same privileges that abound in the public sector or the regional firms. They don’t have your other perks (on-site gym, pool, subsidised Bentley..) so can’t really complain about this?

SkadVocate 03 June 23 12:05

Nowadays, it seems like people have become a bit too soft, lacking the work ethic and resilience of the past.

As a seasoned partner, I expect the junior staff to demonstrate unwavering commitment. I want to see them in the office five days a week, not slacking off at home like lazy entitled brats. They need to be present, seen, and not heard like children. Clock in a solid 8 to 10 hours each day, without fail, and prove their dedication through hard work and perseverance. I don't have the patience for constant hand-holding, so they better find efficient solutions to their problems and deliver results promptly.

Don't waste time; get the work done without any mishaps. It's not as difficult as some may think. And let me be clear, small talk and sharing personal anecdotes won't impress me. Spare me the details of your personal life and weekend plans. Instead, channel that energy into billable hours. Let me be clear, if you fail to meet my expectations, I will take steps to address the performance issues. Understand your role, stay focused, and minimise distractions. Act like professionals and prove your worth through hard work, not empty chatter.


Goethe Cash 03 June 23 17:30

At least being in the office four days a week means Skadden lawyers have three days WFH each week.

Dying breed 03 June 23 18:51


had to read your comment twice to work out whether you were being serious or whether you were deliberately posting something to stoke the flames. I’m kind of on the fence..

if you’re serious - some of those expectations are reasonable - but you are in the Stone Age if you’re still expecting 5 days a week in the office when clients don’t seem to care! Standards yes, billing targets yes - but they can’t be the only focus of your employees.

if you’re not being serious - good one! Made me laugh in several places.. 

Associate at US law firm 03 June 23 21:38

Working from home is an aberration. Only lazy professionals do home office. US law firms should require full-time in the office. Let the lazy professionals go to British firms and their miserable salaries.

Boston PI lawyer 04 June 23 01:29

Meanwhile since I own, I do whatever I want. On Friday I settled a PI case for $750,000, which means a legal fee for me in the amount of $250,000......on a single case....while you slave away to make Partners rich and have no life. 

But that's the choice you have made. Own. 


Anonymous 05 June 23 09:37

"On Friday I settled a PI case for $750,000, which means a legal fee for me in the amount of $250,000......on a single case"

You post this several times a month.

How are you not dead from cocaine abuse already? Aside from a gambling addiction, it's the only plausible explanation for you still needing to work on these crappy PI cases that you're wasting your life on.

Just put the next couple of settlements into an index fund, then use the last one to check yourself into rehab.

You'll be a happier man.

Anonymous 05 June 23 13:15

One of the very few good things to emerge from the pandemic was a general appreciation that certain desk-based jobs can be done perfectly well from home. Firms that force lawyers to return to the office full-time (or nearly) are throwing away the benefits of that societal shift. 

What gets me the most are the tropes trotted out by senior management to justify the shift back to the office. All completely unmeasurable. Eg, the “buzz”, the “culture”, the “water cooler moments”, and the “spontaneous world-beating ideas” that are being missed out on. It’s nonsense. Show me the data. 

And for all that firms shout about D&I, stripping flex and hybrid working completely cuts across that. 

It seems to be senior management wanting to inflict their own miseries of the past onto the generations of the future. “That’s what I had to put up with in the past, so tough.”

And if things (supposedly) aren’t working as well as they could, then adapt based on the existing hybrid working models. Don’t chuck it all away. It’s throwing the bath water out with the baby.  

And to those saying, “well Skadden pay enough”, wait until this outdated thinking comes to a firm near you. 

Firms that continue to promote flexible working will continue to differentiate themselves. 

Anonymous 05 June 23 22:48

On Friday I settled a claim for $750,000. PI claim it was. Claimant was due at least $4m (this is America after all).

But as soon as I offered a low sum the lawyer on the other side who was very twitchy and looked like he needed a good sleep, jumped and accepted it. I was told he got $250k for his negligent advice but the claimant will sue his PI and not my client so everyone wins. Save his dealer.

Anonymous 06 June 23 07:25

"On Friday I settled a PI case for $750,000, which means a legal fee for me in the amount of $250,000......on a single case"

of that £200k was counsel’s and expert’s fee. But still… we’ll done you 

Anonymous 07 June 23 13:46

"to those saying, “well Skadden pay enough”, wait until this outdated thinking comes to a firm near you."

Will the Skadden wedge also be coming to that firm near me?


Because I could be ok with that.

Shirwin Pitchell 07 June 23 20:04

Irwin Mitchell is NOT fully flexible. “Flexible by Choice” has been replaced with absolutely no choice but to do three “anchor days” Tuesday to Thursday. I’m not sure how they are getting away with touting their long gone flexible by choice policy! 

Boston PI Lawyer 08 June 23 01:54

I pocket the 250k fee. All costs and expenses, including experts, are paid out of the client's recovery. I advance the costs and expenses. I only eat the costs and expenses if there is no recovery. 

Own - don't work for asshole partners. You are welcome. 


"On Friday I settled a PI case for $750,000, which means a legal fee for me in the amount of $250,000......on a single case"

of that £200k was counsel’s and expert’s fee. But still… we’ll done you 




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