Faced with the decision to work from an office or allow team members to work from anywhere, thousands of law firms have ended up with something in the middle.

Of course, there are pros and cons to both in-person and remote work. It’s natural to think that hybrid arrangements are a way to mitigate the downsides of each while reaping the benefits of both.

The thing is, hybrid work presents a whole new set of challenges that don’t exist in fully remote or in-office settings.

Communication, scheduling, and firm culture are some of the most obvious things to tackle. There are also some natural biases of which you should be aware; people who work in close proximity to the boss are more likely to get good performance reviews and promotions simply because they’re more visible.

Want to keep your hybrid firm fair, productive, and effective?

Here are some tips to help.

Prioritize tech infrastructure and security

A hybrid practice cannot function without a cloud-based technology infrastructure in place to enable remote work.

Along with this will come a greater need for cybersecurity, recognizing that many firms shifting to virtual work have suffered security breaches.

Accordingly, you should build your workflows around a central practice management tool, case management tool, or some other form of legal technology. This is a best practice for all types of firms, but it’s necessary for a hybrid law firm.

Make sure you choose tools that prioritize security and that offer extra security options such as two-factor authentication.

Implementing training for employees may be worthwhile so they can recognize security threats, such as phishing scams.

One critical aspect of your firm’s tech tools is that they allow for easy collaboration between workers, whether they are operating remotely or in person. This means easy access to legal documents, the ability to collaborate on documents, and on-demand case statuses and details.

For client communication, consider providing a VOIP phone system so that nobody needs to use their personal cell for work. This isn’t strictly necessary, but is a good practice for security.

Maintain employee engagement and a positive work culture

A hybrid law firm must do all it can to maintain employee engagement while promoting a positive work culture.

Consider some of the following issues:

  • Will there be an unfair bias by firm leadership in favor of in-person over remote workers?
  • Will remote workers feel the sense of belonging and inclusiveness they need to do their jobs effectively?
  • How will your hybrid practice deal with giving and responding to feedback, providing mentorship, and building co-worker relationships?


One step to deal with many of these issues is setting aside time for regular virtual check-ins with each person. Weekly video calls are ideal.

It might feel like a lot to spend 30 minutes a week just catching up with every remote employee, but consider how much time you spend chatting with your in-person colleagues. Scheduling these check-ins is a lot less of an interruption than getting caught in a water cooler chat.

What about other meetings? In hybrid workplaces, the remote team members often complain that they’re left out of a lot of decisions because meetings happen in person.

Ensure that all of your meetings have virtual invitations for remote workers to join, and take care that in-person attendees do not unfairly dominate the conversation. You might even consider dedicating an instant message channel for office chitchat, allowing for the spontaneous interactions that more often occur with in-person work settings.

Check your sound and video quality, too. If you’re writing on a whiteboard, the remote participants should be able to see it.

Some hybrid companies now conduct all meetings virtually, even for the people in the office. IT feels a little silly to log into a video call with the person in the office next to you, but it does ensure that everyone can see and hear what’s going on.

Set parameters for communication

Speaking of meetings, there are some extra communication challenges for hybrid firms. Technology doesn’t fix all of them.

For example, imagine you’ve had a busy morning, so everyone in the office decides to have lunch together to blow off some steam. While you’re eating, conversation naturally turns to work. Someone brings up an idea to handle incoming cases differently, and everyone agrees it’s great! You all go back to work and immediately start using the new procedure that you chose at lunch.

But the remote team members weren’t there. They don’t know about the change, and they’re going to keep doing what they’ve been trained to do.

Most hybrid law firms figure out a meeting system that works well for their teams. It’s the unplanned meetings that trip people up.

Set a protocol for how you’ll inform remote workers of anything that comes up outside of scheduled meetings. You can communicate during daily standup meetings, send out a written message at the end of every day, or have a shared system where everyone can check to see what was decided or discussed recently.

Develop methods for assigning and tracking work assignments, too, so that remote legal professionals are not unfairly excluded or under-utilized.

Also be sure to set clear expectations for communication within a hybrid team.

If you prefer written communication in your Slack or other communication tool, make sure that everyone adheres to that. If you organize your work and updates with a task management tool or in your case matter, keep everyone on track.

Create a hybrid schedule

When firm members are working both in-person and remotely, coordination of schedules can become more difficult.

Hybrid work arrangements aren’t always the same.

Some firms have people who always work from the office and others who always work from home. You might offer flexible weeks with a minimum of 2 or 3 days in the office, and team members can select which days they show up. There are firms that only allow remote work with advanced notice, and firms that only use their office for client meetings.

Working hours can vary greatly in a hybrid firm, too.

In-office work usually entails the standard 8 AM to 5 PM availability, but most people expect remote work to be more flexible than that. Remote workers tend to plan their day around their kids’ school schedules, mid-day appointments, and other personal priorities.

It’s up to you whether you want to offer total flexibility or firm rules about remote work. There’s no right or wrong way to handle it.

Problems arise when team members don’t know who’s available at what time. If you’re counting on someone to get things done on a tight timeline, and they don’t even log in until that deadline has passed, there’s an issue.

All of this is fixed with a simple policy.

If work location and hours are flexible, then meetings must be scheduled in advance and any collaboration should have a 24-hour turnaround time built-in.

If you expect everyone to be available during normal business hours, make sure that your remote team members have a notification system like Slack where they can participate in real time.

Reduce complexity by defaulting to remote best practices

The way you work in the office doesn’t translate well for those working from home.

However, the practices and tools you use to keep remote workers connected are just as effective in your office.

You can simplify your hybrid law firm management significantly by simply treating it like a remote office all the time. Make meetings virtual. Allow flexible schedules. Centralize your work in a practice management system, and make sure communication happens in writing so that everyone is in the loop.

Putting a little extra effort into open communication and clear structure is always worth it. Even if your hybrid structure evolves over time, the foundation you build now will keep things running smoothly.

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