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Kirkland & Ellis Announces November Office Return, Complete With New COVID Vaccine Or Testing Protocol

As the legal profession attempts to get back to the office to begin to create the next normal, law firms have been faced with delay after delay thanks to the constantly evolving coronavirus crisis. Plans for September returns to office begat postponements to October, and some firms have even decided to forgo reopening in 2021 at all. In recent days, however, more than half a dozen Biglaw firms have settled on November as the perfect time to return to their work outside of a remote enviroment.

The latest firm to announce a November return is none other than Kirkland Ellis, the world’s wealthiest law firm. In 2020, the firm brought in $4,830,000,000 gross revenue, topping the charts for not just America, but the globe. The firm originally planned to reopen in September, but has now chosen to welcome employees back to the office on November 8. As part of its return, the firm will now require vaccination or weekly COVID testing for all. Here’s a relevant excerpt from the memo (available in full on the next page):

As many are aware, the U.S. Department of Labor announced plans to issue federal guidelines that would require employers like us to limit access to our facilities only to those persons who provide either proof of vaccination or a weekly negative COVID test. We do not know whether or when these proposed regulations will become effective.

After a thorough review, we have decided to adopt this same approach for our U.S. offices, regardless of whether the federal guidelines take effect. We do so in the interest of establishing uniformity across all of our U.S. offices.

As a result, effective November 8, 2021, and until further notice, all personnel will need to provide either proof of vaccination or a weekly negative COVID test.

In an effort to continue to provide “market-leading benefits, offerings, and workspaces,” Kirkland will shatter the amenities market with things like:

  • Complimentary breakfast, lunch, and snacks
  • On-site concierge support and services (e.g., dry cleaning, errand running services, etc.)
  • Social events that bring offices and practices/departments together regularly

Are lawyers ready for the “office-centric work environment” that was first announced when the firm originally planned to reopen in September? We suppose we’ll see what happens.

What has your firm announced as far as a reopening plan is concerned? The more information is out there, the more likely it is that firms will be able to establish a market standard for a return to work.

(Flip the page to read the memo from Kirkland Ellis.)

As soon as you find out about the reopening plan at your firm, please email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Office Reopening”) or text us at (646) 820-8477. We always keep our sources on stories anonymous. There’s no need to send a memo (if one exists) using your firm email account; your personal email account is fine. If a memo has been circulated, please be sure to include it as proof; we like to post complete memos as a service to our readers. You can take a photo of the memo and attach as a picture if you are worried about metadata in a PDF or Word file. Thanks.


Staci ZaretskyStaci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.