Skadden to lawyers and staff: Get vaccinated or get tested to come back to work

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Signage is seen outside of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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(Reuters) - Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom confirmed Monday that it aims to bring lawyers and professional staff back into its U.S. offices on Sept. 13 – and those who haven't received a COVID-19 vaccine by then will have to get continually tested for the virus.

The firm isn't requiring its lawyers and professional staff to get vaccinated but urged them to do so in an internal memo. Unvaccinated workers who haven't had COVID-19 in the past 90 days will have to test negative within 48 hours of their arrival to any Skadden office or in-person meeting, the firm's memo said.

Skadden may be the first large law firm to announce a policy on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.

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But it's not the only firm grappling with when and how to get lawyers back to the office after over a year of remote work, as COVID-19 case numbers fall and vaccination rates rise in the United States.

Most firms that have announced policies, including Reed Smith and Sheppard Mullin, are being flexible, for now at least, by encouraging rather than requiring lawyers to return and hinting that some aspects of remote work are here to stay.

Skadden is taking that route, too.

Its memo, first reported by Above the Law, said coming into the office three days a week starting in September is the "guidepost" for U.S. lawyers, but it acknowledged there "will be periods when client and practice needs require more, or when personal circumstances necessitate less" time in-person.

It will be "flexible" with those who can't return three days a week in September, it said, and will consider letting lawyers transfer to another office if they want to move. It's being flexible with its own policymaking, too.

"As we gain experience with the new arrangement, we will likely make adjustments, although we expect remote work flexibility will be part of our work routine going forward," the memo said.

Read more:

More law firms set office return dates as Big Law weighs flexible future

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Caroline Spiezio covers legal industry news, with a focus on law firms and in-house counsel. She is based in New York. Reach her at