Trio of Big Law firms set office return dates in coming months

Signage is seen outside of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Kirkland and Milbank latest to set return-to-office dates in November
  • Baker & Hostetler plans to fully reopen on Jan. 4

(Reuters) - Milbank, Baker & Hostetler and Kirkland & Ellis have released new return-to-office strategies after the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant forced many Big Law firms to delay their original reopenings.

They join a growing group of large firms that will refrain from asking most of their lawyers to return to work this month, as had been previously planned.

Milbank has set Nov. 8 as the mandatory return date for its lawyers based in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., according to a recent firm memo viewed by Reuters, though it will ask first-year lawyers only to return early, on Oct. 21.

The firm will require most lawyers to work in the office for three days a week, but first- and second-year associates are expected to come in for four, according to the memo.

The memo said without a formal return to office Milbank will not be able to "restablish the vibrant community that we have enjoyed in the past."

Kirkland & Ellis has also set an office re-opening date for Nov. 8, according to a memo published on Above the Law.

The memo did not specify how many days a week lawyers would be required to go in to the office, and a Kirkland representative did not reply to request for comment.

In recent weeks, firms including Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; and Debevoise & Plimpton, have similarly set return-to-office dates for next month.

Baker & Hostetler has taken a slightly different approach, confirming Friday that it plans to fully reopen all of its offices on Jan. 4, 2022.

In the interim, it will launch a campaign on Oct. 18 to encourage all firm personnel to work in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays, a firm spokesperson told Reuters.

Read more:

More firms pause office return plans, eying November or beyond

Law firm leaders play catch-up as virus outlook shifts

More law firms scrap October return plans, opting to watch and wait

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Xiumei Dong covers legal industry news, with a focus on law firm strategy and growth, in-house counsel and the Washington, D.C., legal market. Reach her at