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Pros and Cons of Going Remote as an Attorney

Pros and Cons of Going Remote as an Attorney

Remote work has become increasingly popular in the startup and tech world, and even in traditional workplaces.  Many employers — even if they do not offer full-time remote working arrangements — provide their employees remote “days” every week, which can help those with families (and other responsibilities) spend a bit more time at home and an opportunity to manage their weekly errands.

In the legal industry, many Biglaw firms and in-house departments have been slow to offer remote working arrangements, but change is coming.  Some firms offer alternative associate tracks that give attorneys the opportunity to work fewer hours (at a lower salary), and to handle most of their tasks remotely.  In some cases, pay is equivalent, but there is an implication that the workload and ceiling for career advancement will be quite different to that of a traditional attorney.

Curious about the pros and cons of going remote?  Let’s take a look.

Pros of Going Remote

Better Work-Life Balance and Scheduling Flexibility

Generally speaking, the number one reason why attorneys contemplate going remote is to achieve a better work-life balance (and some added schedule flexibility).  We often find that attorneys “burn out” due to their work life colliding with their home life, and over time, this inherent conflict can be difficult — if not impossible — for some attorneys to resolve.  Instead of leaving the Biglaw environment, or even leaving a high-end in-house department, one option is to consider a remote working arrangement that will give you the tools and distance necessary to manage your schedule so that you can balance your time more effectively.

Exit Opportunities in the California Market

In California, many younger tech companies are looking for attorneys who are comfortable with “virtual” work.  By developing your technology and project management skills (in the remote context), you may be moving away from the traditional Biglaw and in-house tracks, but enhancing your value as an attorney for agile tech companies and startups looking to work with a forward-looking legal advisor.

Cons of Going Remote

Alternative Career Tracks Can Undermine Your Utility

Unfortunately, by going remote, your employer may begin to undervalue and undermine your contributions to the firm (or in-house department).  This can be a serious challenge for those who are still looking to climb the career ladder — remote work can, to some extent, put you out of the running.

Expectations May Be Contorted by Arrangement

It’s important to keep in mind that — given how “new” the remote working arrangement is to the legal industry — the expectations of your work are likely to be contorted, and sometimes in a manner that imposes additional burdens.  Though Biglaw firms tend to expect that you will be available at all times to put out fires, so to speak, this reliance on your availability may be even greater when you enter into a remote working arrangement, as there is no clear separation between what is “work” time and what is “home” time.  Your employer may simply require that you complete tasks whenever is most convenient to them, and expect you to fit it into your schedule accordingly.

Client-Facing Work Will Likely Be Minimized

As a general rule, remote attorneys will not be tasked with as much client-facing work.  This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.  For those who are attempting to make themselves “invaluable” to their employer, becoming an important point-of-contact for clients is critical.  For those who are somewhat averse to working directly with clients, going remote may be an opportunity to take on responsibilities that are more pleasant (given their disposition).

Intra-Office Networking Opportunities Are Limited

Naturally, remote working arrangements limit your ability to network with other attorneys at the office.  This is something many attorneys don’t quite recognize as a factor, and can have a significant impact on your future as an attorney.  It’s worth noting, however, that even if you do not build a strong “intra-office” attorney network, you can work with a legal recruiter to help you make inroads with various employers — Biglaw and in-house departments — throughout California.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Legal Recruiter at Garb Jaffe & Associates

If you are an attorney — whether in Biglaw or working in-house — and have been given an opportunity to go remote, or are contemplating a potential “remote” work arrangement, then we encourage you to contact an experienced Los Angeles legal recruiter here at Garb Jaffe & Associates for help.  We help attorney candidates contextualize new opportunities and understand the advantages and disadvantages of every possible move: including those that involve nontraditional arrangements, such as remote work.

Here at Garb Jaffe, our team of legal recruiters have decades of experience assisting California attorney-candidates, securing placements with prestigious Biglaw firms and in-house legal departments throughout the state.  Our professional expertise has given us deep insight into the ins-and-outs of the legal industry, and how attorneys can effectively navigate opportunities for maximum benefit.

Call (310) 207-0727 or request an appointment online to speak with a legal recruiter at Garb Jaffe.  We look forward to assisting you.

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