Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 15

FEATURE
Originally, he admits, he saw "little urgency" in telling U.S. employees
to work remotely. Then he realized that staff members were waiting for
a sign from leadership. "They wanted somebody to say, 'we really mean
it right now - you don't have to come in.'"
Morrison & Foerster LLP also took the early warning signs from Asia seriously, with its Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore offices
shifting to remote operations, says D.C. office managing partner Joseph
Palmore. "We were able to take advantage of that experience and talk
to our colleagues in Asia about how they fared and how to manage the
process," he says.
McDermott Will & Emery's leadership team created a COVID-19 task
force that was meeting nearly every day starting in February, says D.C.
managing partner Lisa Richman. With offices in Shanghai and Milan, the
firm realized that it needed a contingency plan. "What do we need to do
to make sure we can mobilize as quickly as possible whenever [the virus]
starts to hit?" Richman recalls herself asking.
Other firms note that they acted early because they understood the
health ramifications of ignoring the warnings. And some saw remote
work as the next step in improving their competitive advantage. Eve
Howard, Washington, D.C., regional managing partner at Hogan Lovells,
says the firm had been exploring different work arrangements
for the past five years.
"Did I have a detailed plan in place if we ever had a pandemic?" Howard
asks. "I don't think anybody could say they had that specific plan." But
with more than 2,600 lawyers around the globe, the firm had instituted
an "agile" work program that includes options such as reduced or nontraditional working hours to accommodate employees' needs - to help
elderly parents, care for young children, or commute to work at offpeak times.

SMART PRACTICES

FOR REMOTE WORK

T

he attorneys interviewed for this article
offered their advice on how to make things
as easy as possible while maintaining
a virtual office.

✔

PACE YOURSELF. Dan Harris of Harris Bricken remembers the
time he felt guilty when he took a break to play with his
young child. "That's ridiculous. This is a marathon, not a
sprint."

✔

LEADERS SHOULD SET THE TONE. Harris sent out a letter to the
firm saying, "I hear many of you are working nonstop each
day and feeling obligated to respond to every Slack/email/
phone call instantly. Please know this is not expected!"

✔

THINK BEYOND EMAIL. Joseph Palmore of Morrison & Foerster
reminded employees to have a video chat or to pick up
the phone. "It's important to maintain that live human
connection."

✔

REALIZE THAT A HOME OFFICE WILL BE MORE CASUAL. "When
you're on a video conference, don't apologize if there's
noise in the background - if a dog barks or a child is in
the room," says Jane Koehl of Faegre Drinker.

✔

TIMING IS EVERYTHING. Set up video conferencing at times
other than on the hour or half-hour, says Eve Howard
of Hogan Lovells. That avoids the potential logjam of an
over-burdened system.

✔

MANAGE TIME. For attorneys or staff whose workload is
diminished, find other practices that are overburdened,
or suggest pro bono or volunteer opportunities, says
McDermott's Lisa Richman. Michael Kelly at Squire Patton
Boggs sent out a link to the Red Cross, which is facing a
drop in blood donations.

✔

LIMIT EXPOSURE. Most firms have a skeleton crew in the office
to handle mail. Use those people, plus a FaceTime connection, if at-home attorneys need to find items they left in the
office, thus limiting the number of trips to the building, says
Richman.

✔

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Firms need to have a plan in place for
partnership voting or decisions in case a large percentage
of partners get sick, says Robert Burger of Sterne Kessler.

MOBILIZATION TO STAY HOME
Hogan's U.S. offices decided to do a test run in early March. Half the
employees were asked to work from home on a Thursday, the other half
that Friday. "We learned a lot on day one," Howard says. The call desk
team was busy setting up employees not used to working from home
while handling capacity issues on the firm's network. The first day of the
telework dry run was slightly bumpy, but day two "was a sea change,"
says Howard, with many of the problems dropping off. The leadership
teams met over the weekend and decided they would tell staff to
continue working remotely. "It was clear from the science that we knew
it would help flatten the curve," she says.
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP announced on March 13, a Friday, that
the firm would go fully remote starting the following Monday, says Chief
Operating Officer Jane Koehl. By Wednesday, the entire firm was operating remotely.
Adding to the complexity was Faegre Drinker's February 1 launch as a
newly merged firm - combining the Minneapolis-based Faegre Baker
Daniels and the Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle & Reath - with more
than 1,300 lawyers in 22 locations. While a merger would have been
easier with more in-person meetings, in some ways the transition to
virtual operations was actually unifying, Koehl says.
A recent office renovation forced the issue at Sterne Kessler. Manage-
ment was already thinking about how employees might use its space

JULY/AUGUST 2020

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER

15



Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Election Coverage
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
When Law Firms Go Remote feature
Disaster Preparedness for Lawyers feature
Staying Afloat feature
Privacy Rights During a Pandemic Feature
Hamilton's Enduring Legacy feature
Annual Report
Taking the Stand
The Learning Curve
On Further Review
Member Spotlight -
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Women's Suffrage special section
Speaking of Ethics
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Election Coverage
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 10
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - When Law Firms Go Remote feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Disaster Preparedness for Lawyers feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Staying Afloat feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Privacy Rights During a Pandemic Feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Hamilton's Enduring Legacy feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Annual Report
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 38
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Member Spotlight -
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Women's Suffrage special section
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2020 - Cover4
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