Firms Reopening with Vaccine Mandates

COVID-19 vaccination shot, held between fingers in medical gloves

Both Law.com and Above the Law are tracking the reopening plans of the larger law firms. While past reopening announcements have stressed flexibility in vaxxed and nonvaxxed status, this week’s trend is toward requiring vaccines, with attestations, coupled with delays in reopenings. Consequences for not attesting to vaccination include not being welcome in the office, deactivated entry cards for the office, and the office building. Some firms are affirmatively communicating exceptions and accommodations.

…ID card will be deactivated and you will not be permitted to enter the building… Exceptions for medical or religious reasons would be reviewed, but that there is “no guarantee that a request will be granted.”

Both publications are soliciting information:

Law.com: BusinessOfLaw@alm.com
Above the Law:  email us(subject line: “[Firm Name] Office Reopening”) or text us at (646) 820-8477. 

From ALM’s Law.com:

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: The firm, which said it would delay its office return from Sept. 13 to Oct. 11, said it will require all those who come into the office now to be vaccinated, according to an Aug. 2 memo. It has not mandated that it will in fact require vaccines after its targeted office return in October. Firm chair Kim Koopersmith said the firm will “be evaluating whether we will require vaccinations for entry into our offices when we reopen,” the memo said.

Arent Fox: The firm said on July 30 that it will require all firm lawyers and staff to be fully vaccinated no later than Sept. 6, “due to the clear and present danger of the Delta variant for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.” The firm said all personnel will be required to present proof of vaccination.

Cooley: The firm announced in July that personnel working in or visiting a U.S. office on a voluntary basis are required to be vaccinated by Labor Day, with some personal exceptions.

Crowell & Moring:  The firm said in an Aug. 3 statement that to “safeguard the health of all in our community, including the families of our lawyers and staff,” it will require all lawyers and staff who enter its offices to be fully vaccinated, effective Sept. 7. The policy applies to all U.S. offices. Crowell’s HR team will be collecting proof of vaccination from personnel, and the firm said it is offering waivers for people with religious objections or a medical issue.

Davis Polk & Wardwell: The firm said it will require personnel in its U.S. offices to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the firm’s office return date Sept. 13. If employees don’t complete a required vaccination attestation by Sept. 12, “your Davis Polk ID card will be deactivated and you will not be permitted to enter the building,” said an Aug. 2 firm memo. Exceptions for medical or religious reasons would be reviewed, but that there is “no guarantee that a request will be granted.”

Davis Wright & Tremaine: Back in January 2021, the firm said it will require its attorneys and staff to be vaccinated if they are to return to the firm’s office—becoming the first Am Law 200 firm to publicly announce such a requirement.

Dickinson Wright: The firm informed its workforce in late July that they must be vaccinated in order to come into any of the firm’s 19 offices. Firm CEO Michael Hammer said the firm’s vaccination office policy goes into effect Monday, Aug 2. In a memo, the firm noted the policy will apply to all firm events. “It seemed half-measures were becoming increasingly difficult,” Hammer said. “We decided this is the safest course for everyone. Even though in our regions, the [infection] numbers are relatively low—but given that the numbers likely will, or may increase, we just didn’t want to have a hodgepodge.”

Durie Tangri: The firm announced June 1 that it is requiring proof of vaccination before anyone is allowed to return to the office. The firm said in a statement: “If there is a medical condition or religious belief that prevents an employee from being vaccinated, we will discuss whether the firm can make a reasonable accommodation. We also established a protocol to screen visitors in our office to ensure they do not present a COVID risk.”

Fenwick & West: Managing partner Rodger Cole said in a late July email that the firm requires all personnel to be vaccinated before coming into offices.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson: A firm representative confirmed Aug. 2 that vaccines are required to return to the office.

Goodwin Procter:  In an Aug. 3 statement, the firm said it looks forward to returning to offices in September. “We anticipate that the FDA will approve the COVID-19 vaccines for regular use in the coming weeks. Once that approval has been issued, our offices will be open only to those individuals (including all partners, employees, onsite vendors and visitors) who have been fully vaccinated,” the firm said.

“Once you are fully vaccinated, you must update your status” with Goodwin to return to the office, the firm told personnel. Those who are granted exemptions and remain unvaccinated will be required to undergo weekly testing for COVID-19 before they are able to enter a Goodwin office, the firm said.

Exemptions will be granted for those who have been advised not to get vaccinated by a medical professional due to disability or pregnancy or those who seriously hold a religious belief precluding vaccinations, Goodwin added.

Hanson Bridgett: The firm added a vaccine mandate July 23. The policy applies “for anyone working in or visiting any of Hanson Bridgett’s five physical office locations or attending a firm-sponsored event at other locations,” managing partner Kristina Lawson said in a firmwide memo.

Hogan Lovells: The firm said on July 29 that as part of new interim firm requirements until mid-September, the firm is asking that only fully vaccinated people come into the office. “In mid-to late-August, we will assess this interim approach and determine whether vaccinations will be required for office entry from Sept. 13,” Washington managing partner Michele Farquhar said in an emailed statement. Farquhar also said the firm will delay its office return date a week, back to Sept. 13, “given recent COVID rates in the Americas.”

Hueston Hennigan: The litigation boutique welcomed attorneys back to its offices on an optional basis June 15, with a vaccine—and proof of vaccination—requirement for those choosing to come in.

Lowenstein Sandler: The firm is restricting access to its offices to those who have been fully vaccinated. Firm leader Gary Wingens said in a July 29 interview that Lowenstein is mandating vaccinations for people to show up in-person because the firm felt like it had been successful bringing people back in a phased approach throughout the summer and the firm wanted to give its members added safety assurance.

McDermott Will & Emery: According to an Aug. 2 memo, McDermott will require those in the office to be vaccinated or else their building keycard access will be removed. “Our goal, as always, is to keep our people and families safe, and we are particularly focused on protecting those who are most vulnerable, including kids who can’t yet be vaccinated and those who are immunocompromised,” the memo said. The firm is also postponing its office broader return in the United States by about a month, the memo said.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo: The firm said in late June it will require personnel to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the office. Those who are unvaccinated will not be allowed in the building and will continue to work remotely until September, the memo said, with a few exceptions. Once Sept. 13 arrives, the firm will “require that all employees, other than those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons, be fully vaccinated” by then.

Norton Rose Fulbright: The firm said in Aug. 3 statement that “until further notice,” it is limiting access to its firm’s U.S. offices to only those “who are fully vaccinated.” The move is a specific response, said the firm, to the Delta variant “causing a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated individuals.” Norton Rose still plans for a full return to its U.S. offices in September, but the firm said it was “continually monitoring the situation and evaluating this timeline.”

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler: The firm said that as of July 6, “everyone entering their office space must be fully vaccinated subject to medical or religious accommodations under applicable law.”

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison: Managing partner Brad Karp said in a July memo that in order to “promote the safest possible working environment,” the firm will require “everyone who enters our offices to be fully vaccinated.” Karp said that “virtually the entire Paul, Weiss community would strongly prefer working alongside colleagues who are vaccinated.” For those who choose not to get vaccinated for one reason or another, the firm has asked that they reach out to designated firm personnel in order to best “accommodate specific circumstances.”

Reed Smith: The firm informed all of its U.S. personnel that beginning Aug. 2, access to the firm’s U.S. offices will be limited to those who are fully vaccinated, according to a July 29 statement. The firm said it will make reasonable accommodations on a case-by-case basis for those who are not vaccinated because of medical, religious or other reasons.

Ropes & Gray: The firm will require employees and visitors going into the office or attending work-related gatherings be vaccinated beginning Aug. 9 through the end of the firm’s voluntary return-to-office period. A firm spokesperson also confirmed that its return Sept. 13, may be pushed back.

Schiff Hardin: ”Effective August 9, Schiff Hardin attorneys and staff and anyone entering Schiff’s offices will be required to be fully vaccinated,” said an Aug. 2 email from the firm. The firm said it’s also pushing its office return target date from Sept. 7 to Nov. 4 and anyone accessing Schiff Hardin’s offices must wear a mask and practice social distancing.


Mary Mack

Mary Mack is the CEO and Chief Legal Technologist for EDRM. Mary was the co-editor of the Thomson Reuters West Treatise, eDiscovery for Corporate Counsel for 10 years and the co-author of A Process of Illumination: the Practical Guide to Electronic Discovery. She holds the CISSP among her certifications.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.