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Question: Support for Telecommuting at Law Firms

Attorney Career Question: My firm is considering a work from home option. Is there any comprehensive article that it can reference that sets forth what other firms are doing in this regard; the success of such programs; and any other hard data from which it can make an informed decision?

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A quick google search turned up this article responding to common objections to telecommuting for lawyers:

http://www.davidflemingltd.com/commentary/9807comNicole.htm

See also our review of the book Telecommuting for Lawyers:

http://www.jdblissblog.com/2006/06/telecommuting_f.html

Might be hard to obtain a copy and price is a bit steep.

In sum, technology has reached the stage (think Blackberrys, laptops, secure networks, etc.) that telecommuting should definitely be considered by all law firms as a viable work life balance benefit. As long as a lawyer is responsible about timely responding to client needs, staying in touch with the office, and keeping the kids out of the office while he or she is on the phone, telecommuting can improve productivity by cutting out what is often an unnecessary commute.

Can't direct you to a book, but a big part of the reason I chose my firm was the telecommuting option, and it's a big part of the reason I'll stay here.

We use laptops in the office (they plug into a docking station with "normal" keyboard/mouse/monitor) and I can take that laptop and VPN in from anywhere in the world and get the exact same desktop, connectivity, and access to network resources as I would get if I were in the office. We even have IP phones made by Cisco that allow us to receive and make calls from our laptop as if we were in the office (i.e. clients call my office number and I can answer using a special headset).

I think lawyers are unique in that we all have billable hours targets, so it's not like we can "hide" while working from home and watch TV all day. We've still got to put in our hours each day to reach our target. But if a few times a month, I can bill those hours without the additional 2.5 hours I spend each day commuting, putting on makeup and getting dressed for work, that's a huge work-life advantage.

A simple Google search will yield a number of factors to consider. Mine was 'pitfalls in telecommuting'. A useful list may be compiled as an administrative function. While that is occurring, I would suggest that you create your own pre-conceived notions of benefits and pitfalls considering your personal environment and vision. That said, I understand that you seek hard data. I offer you caution in your data considerations. That is, I would suggest that your considerations include what I would characterize as still soft data on factors such as psychological and sociological impacts, and which practices foster and which degrade a telecommuter's general morale, which has foundational affect on all things that are product of that foundation.

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