Law Firms

Some law firms tie in-person work to bonuses and job retention amid demand slowdown

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Some law firms are getting tough with demands for in-person work, observers have told

Some law firms are linking bonuses and even job retention to showing up at the office, according to

The change is happening amid a decrease in demand for legal work and some associate job losses tied to performance reviews.

“Firms are being much stricter about attendance and tying it to bonuses and retention because they can now,” said Andrew Detherage, a managing partner at Barnes & Thornburg, in an interview with “A year ago, they couldn’t.”

Barnes & Thornburg doesn’t require a set number of days in the office. But the firm’s policy, Detherage said, is for “lawyers to work in person and be engaged regularly. And we’ve allowed some flexibility there but also really encouraged our people to come back.”

Even in-person attendance may not save some associates. Law firm consultant Kent Zimmermann of the Zeughauser Group told in a separate story that law firms are using the slowdown “to address areas of weakness.”

Law firms are reviewing operations and looking at the possibility of cuts not only to people but whole offices and practices, Zimmermann said.

“What I hear chairs and managing partners indicate is they’re thinking about cleaning up,” Zimmerman said.

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