For more than 18 months now, lawyers and staff have largely been working from home thanks to the pandemic. But with law firms now announcing (and postponing and then delaying) their plans to return to the office, the prospect of a commute is looming on the horizon. And with a commute home, it is expected that more business trips will soon be expected as well.
With that in mind, it got us wondering: will lawyers really be ready for more business travel once the new year arrives?
We interviewed attorneys and staff who span the professional spectrum between Biglaw businesses, small businesses, in-house legal departments, and state and federal government offices to find out what lies ahead for us. – legal work following the pandemic. The largest group of respondents to our survey consisted of partners and legal advisers of law firms (36.25%), followed by partners of law firms (26.25%) and general legal advisers / lawyers. business (18.75%). Are lawyers ready to travel on business again? As a true lawyer, it depends.
The largest cohort of respondents to our survey (27.85%) said they are plan moderately fewer trips in 2022 compared to their travel plans prior to the pandemic, with 20.25% reporting that they will be doing much less travel. These responses were expected; after all, we are still in a pandemic. Now let’s get serious.
How do your business travel plans for internal meetings in 2022 compare to those before the pandemic?
The largest cohort of respondents (27.12%) reported being plan far fewer trips for internal meetings in 2022 in relation to their pre-pandemic travel plans. Nothing unexpected here, folks.
How do your business travel plans for external / client meetings in 2022 compare to those before the pandemic?
The largest cohort of respondents (30%) said they plan moderately fewer trips for external / client appointments in 2022 compared to their pre-pandemic travel plans. The successes keep coming for business travel in 2022.
What do you think your number of business trips planned for 2022?
The largest cohort of respondents (30.43%) indicated that they believe their amount of business travel planned for 2022 is the right amount. Who are these people who want to travel a lot more? Perhaps the secret lies in the answers to our next survey question.
How important do you think business travel will be to business development and customer satisfaction?
Aha, here we go. The largest cohort of respondents (32.35%) said that business travel is rather important business development and customer satisfaction. This thinking brings us to why many law firms are trying to reopen before the end of 2021.
How important do you think business travel will be to law firm morale, mentoring, and internal networking?
More than a third of respondents (36.76%) said they thought business travel rather important to law firm morale, mentoring and internal networking. But fair to say, many associates value the health and safety of their families more than their law firm’s networking opportunities.
When asked to share their general thoughts on business travel in the future, our respondents really spoke their minds and some common themes emerged. Here are some selected answers that we think would really resonate with others.
- “The pandemic has shown that many businesses can be done just as easily and successfully virtually. As much as I enjoy seeing people in person, I am also comfortable not attending ANY conferences in person until 2023 (and I will be back next summer). ”
- “The pandemic shattered the old models. Of court hearings in meetings, it’s really a new (better) world. You don’t need to burn both jet fuel and head downtown (or out of town) for every court appearance or meeting. The zoom works very well.
- “We have proven that excessive business travel is not necessary to be successful. We owe it to our own health and well-being, and to those of our planet, not to rush back to what we considered “normal”. This has never been, or at least should not have been.
- “Remote repositories work, remote meetings work. Business travel, for the most part, is a waste of time and resources.
It turns out that everyone does not want to stay home forever. Here are some thoughts from other respondents who wish things could go back to how they were before the pandemic.
- “We all need to get vaccinated and get comfortable with meeting in person again. Meeting in person makes it easier to exchange useful information and ideas – which our world desperately needs right now – better than any video conferencing platform.
- “Business travel I would like this to return to pre-pandemic levels, but I don’t think that will happen. “
- “Lawyers are incredibly risk averse and don’t understand the numbers and the numbers. Being fully vaccinated and understanding how good the data is for those who are vaccinated, I plan to take advantage of this and introduce myself to clients more often than other lawyers. “
So this is it. Are lawyers ready for business travel again? Yes! But also, no. Like everything about the Covid-19 plans all travel is probably subject to some change, so be sure to prepare for all the possibilities that come with office life – as it will start over again, and sooner than you want.
Staci Zaretsky is the Editor-in-Chief at Above the Law, where she has worked since 2011. She would love to hear from you, so feel free to email her with any advice, questions, comments or criticism. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.