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RTO in DC – How Is That Really Playing Out?


Overall, RTO at law firms has been a work-in-process.

In the DC market it is especially fluid, at least according to those in this Subreddit Big Law thread about hybrid work.

Since summers have come on the scene there are more folks in the office in DC. But the offices are not operating at full capacity.

The fear about doing in-person face time because the market is tightening seems ill-founded. The concensus is that junior lawyers in DC will always have work, even when remote. The law firm makes the big money from those in years 1 through 4. So, the brass will keep them on, even if they are WFH.

The wrench in the works on that is this: The assignments for those WFH may be grunt work. Those not liking grunt work will figure out that maybe they should do a RTO in order to lobby partners in-person for real work.

That could be worth it.

Not doing real work can be profoundly stressful. For those who love to move the dial on projects it could be beyond bearable. I know, unfortunately.

During a two-month retainer at Paul Weiss for communnications the middleman assigned to oversee me Luke Ferrandino didn't create any real work for me to do. You bet, I tried to push for that. Nothing,

Since I like the chairperson Brad Karp I didn't want to make a stink at the time (as a journalist, you bet, I know how to make a stink and given that Ferrandino didn't design the NDA for me to sign I could have).

Instead, on June 1st, the beginning of a new billing cycle, I just pulled the plug. I still haven't put myself completely together after that one. I remain a bit undone.

Years ago, when I was hired by GM in Detroit for a full-time position in executive communications there was no real work. So, a few months into that horror, when near-bankrupt Chrysler parachuted over to try to poach me, I said "yes."

"Everyone" thought I was nutty to give up the solid for the wobbly. But I did get real work, plenty of it. The hours were similar to those in Big Law. And on my resume I got to put that I had been part of the Lee Iacocca turnaround team. I was so productive during that time that I even had two op-eds for my own byline published in The Wall Street Journal.

Is the takeaway: Do what you got to to do land real work, even if that entails RTO? When not doing real work skills can atrophy. Creativity can wither. Slo-mo I am getting back on my game.

Connect with Editor-in-Chief Jane Genova [email protected].



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