Law firms 'cannot long endure a remote work model,' says Morgan Stanley chief legal officer
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Morgan Stanley’s chief legal officer, Eric Grossman, has reportedly warned the investment bank's outside law firms that their lawyers should return to the office to avoid a decline in client service.
Bloomberg Law and Law.com are reporting on Grossman’s letter, which tells of his “grave concern that our profession cannot long endure a remote work model.”
Law.com obtained a copy of the letter, sent to law firms Thursday, while Bloomberg Law received confirmation that the letter encouraged a return to the office. In addition, Richard Rosenbaum, Greenberg Traurig executive chairman, confirmed to Bloomberg Law that it was one of the law firms that received the letter.
The letter said work at the office helps develop associate skills, according to Law.com.
“Individual lawyers learn and perform best, and collectively deliver the best results, when they are together,” Grossman said.
“We choose to hire you all because of the quality of your lawyers and the product they deliver,” Grossman wrote. “I strongly believe that firms that return to the office will have a significant performance advantage over those that do not, and we will see that advantage reflected in their client service and the ability to deliver successful outcomes for Morgan Stanley.”
Grossman said Morgan Stanley would not, as a general rule, accommodate Zoom participation in critical work meetings.
Grossman didn’t comment when contacted by Bloomberg Law. A Morgan Stanley spokesperson also declined to comment when contacted by Law.com. A spokesperson contacted by the ABA Journal forwarded a request for comment to other media relations personnel, who didn’t immediately reply.
Jeffrey Lowe, global practice leader of the law firm practice at legal consulting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, told Law.com in a separate story that law firms are caught between the wishes of clients such as Morgan Stanley and that of their own lawyers. He noted that lawyers have more leverage as law firms “literally can’t find enough people to get all the work done.”
Return-to-work policies at dozens of law firms have incorporated some flexibility for remote work. Many policies require lawyers to show up in the office at least three days per week, according to Law.com.