As things return to normalcy following the lifting of restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, top Indian law firms continue to develop novel ways of working.
However, given the uncertainty surrounding the virus and its spread, the firms are yet to fully resume the pre-pandemic model of conducting business.
Keeping in mind the health and well-being of their firm's members, the firms have come up with a host of work options to choose from.
Khaitan & Co has introduced innovative policies like the Virtual Office Framework, a LexFlex structure and satellite offices. The firm's offices will be fully open for all double vaccinated members beginning March 1, but attendance will be completely voluntary until the end of March.
Under the Virtual Office Framework, every member of Khaitan has been categorised in one of the following four work categories:
Hybrid Remote (2-3 days in a week)
Remote-on-Demand (mainly in office)
On-Site (fully in office)
This framework addresses the need of every member in the firm and is not cast in stone; categorisation can change depending upon individual needs and professional commitments.
Some of the individually tailored options available to the firm's members also include:
Working from physical offices based out of the city a member has relocated to for personal reasons. The member need not relocate to their original city of posting.
If a member has relocated to a city where the firm does not have a physical office, the member can continue from that location. However, they will transition as a Consultant under the firm's LexFlex structure.
Under the LexFlex structure, lawyers and other professionals can transition or join the firm on a tailor-made contract, from practically anywhere in the world and individually negotiate their time commitment to the firm.
Khaitan is also considering the option of introducing satellite offices in certain key metros to address the issues around long and tedious commutes, based on the geographical dispersion of its members in those cities.
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas is set to introduce a hybrid work policy across its offices beginning March 1, with flexibility given to teams to balance individual needs, team dynamics and client requirements.
Commenting on the initiative being taken by firm, Managing Partner Pallavi Shroff said,
"We are pleased to make our offices and physical infrastructure available for on-site working in a manner that puts safety of our people as our primary focus, and allows teams to design nuanced working arrangements for themselves. The move to a hybrid mode of working is geared towards enabling our people to leverage the best of cutting edge remote working technology, as well as our physical infrastructure.”
On this development, Managing Partner Akshay Chudasama added,
“I am confident that hybrid working is the way forward. It will enable our teams to engage with each other in ways that work best for them, foster bonding between teams, and ensure that we do so in a manner that keeps us all safe.”
The firm’s Covid Response Team is actively supporting its members through the re-acclimatization process to facilitate a smooth transition to hybrid working.
Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas has opened offices from February 15, with lawyers coming in thrice a week.
Commenting on this move, Managing Partner Cyril Shroff said,
“We have recently resumed having our workforce coming back to office for a few days per week. We are watching this phase closely before we proceed with a more longer term model. Despite the initial inertia, majority of people are enjoying the social connect and the efficiencies of the office and the mentorship opportunities. It’s still early days. The initial experience is positive.”
AZB & Partners has opened its offices in Mumbai and Bangalore from today (February 28), while taking care of the necessary precautions, as confirmed by Founder and Managing Partner Zia Mody.
It will be one week in office, one week out for the time being, she revealed.
J Sagar Associates continues to function on the hybrid model of working, with members coming in 2-3 days a week.
While all the government protocols for COVID-19 appropriate behaviour will continue to be observed, the firm is transitioning to getting back to normalcy with fixed office timings from 9am - 5pm, as confirmed by Joint Managing Partner Amit Kapur.
L&L Partners too has opened its physical offices beginning February 28 as well, in hybrid mode. As part of a phased move, physical presence is not mandatory and will be left for the members to decide.
Trilegal has resumed need-based physical attendance in offices keeping in view occupancy of only 50% of office capacity limit. This is to ensure that the general COVID-19 precautionary protocols can be observed at all times.
At the beginning of the first phase of lockdown in 2020, leading law firms across the country adopted to newer ways of functioning that were previously unexplored by firms in India.