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LKS rolls back marching orders to return to HQ cities, extends hometown WFH indefinitely

LKS postpones return to city lights for remote workforce
LKS postpones return to city lights for remote workforce

Facing heavy internal resistance after suggesting that staff should return from their hometowns where many had sheltered during the Covid-19 lockdowns, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan (LKS) has changed course and scrapped the policy tonight, announcing it would continue working from home indefinitely.

The firm had initially announced internally in an email by managing partner V Lakshmikumaran:

We understand that few of the Attorneys, para-legal and support staff have gone to their hometown during the lockdown period.

We request all of you to return to their headquarters not later than Sept 11 2020, and start attending the office as and when required by the seniors.

Strict action will be taken against those who don’t return to their headquarters on or before the aforesaid date.

However, the 11 September date was extended to 21 September earlier this week.

We understand that the intention had been that staff should return nearer to the offices, so that the firm could decide by the end of September how and under what conditions to reopen offices.

And as of tonight, the firm made an internal announcement that the policy has been scrapped indefinitely.

The firm’s chief people officer Anirban Das commented: “L&S has decided to continue work from home for everyone until further notice.

“Litigation Lawyers are coming to office strictly on need basis.”

“Many of the attorneys had gone to their hometown and working from there amidst this pandemic. We have advised them to exercise safety and caution and consult their reporting partners before returning to the base locations.”

We had reached out to LKS for comment earlier this week, and comments on Legally India from fee-earners had also been complaining about the original policy on other stories this week.

The reversal from the firm will be welcome and reflects the policy still in place at nearly ever other firm, the majority of which have allowed staff to return to the places where their families live.

Returning to family: Important for mental health

Two senior partners from different law firms had told us recently that having sent fee-earners to their hometown had been a great advantage, not just in terms of preventing Covid-19 transmission, but also in terms of positive mental health benefits.

“A number of juniors were effectively living alone in their apartments, where they had absolutely no physical interaction with a human being, maybe for 3 or 4 months,” said one partner. “I spoke to everyone in my team, saying please go home, take precautions, basically get back and stay with your parents.”

“About one third of our lawyers are no longer in the city of their office,” said another managing partner of one of the large firms.

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