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Thomson Reuters Institute

Podcast: Lawyers returning to the workplace — Social distancing, technology & privacy concerns



A new podcast on the Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights channel features a conversation with Gail Gottehrer, Principal and Founder of the Law Office of Gail Gottehrer.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a vast majority of white-collar workers, such as attorneys, have been doing their jobs from home via web-based video conferencing tools. For those privileged enough to have a job that lends itself to remote work, what will change as offices start to reopen again?

We know that COVID-19 vaccine developers are working overtime and about a dozen vaccines are already being tested in humans, possibly becoming available as soon as the end of this year.

Is there a strong need to bring lawyers back into the office before a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is approved? Whether we are talking about lawyers at firms, government attorneys, or corporate counsel, the question remains — is the desire for in-person, collaborative work enough to put an individual’s health and safety at risk?

You can listen to the full podcast with Gail Gottehrer here.

If the answer for some partners, firm leaders, and senior managers is yes, then what does that look like? Will attorneys have to wear masks in conference rooms, spread out six feet apart? What technology will they be required to wear or submit to, such as temperature checks and contact tracing?

More importantly, what types of litigation will employers potentially face should their employees get sick from coming back into the office? Should some businesses have legal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits, as is being debated in Congress?

Gail Gottehrer

In a new podcast in the Thomson Reuters Institute Market Insights channel, Gail Gottehrer, principal and founder of the Law Office of Gail Gottehrer, discusses these topics with Gina Jurva, attorney and manager of enterprise content for corporate counsel and government at Thomson Reuters.

The pair also talk about the issue of possible retaliation or discrimination lawsuits for those employees who refuse to come back to the office for fear of infection — a possible likely scenario.

Indeed, a recent survey found that lawyers and staff actually enjoy working remotely. And more than two-thirds of them want to continue to work from home once offices fully reopen should the pandemic ease.

While there is much to consider during this time, including whether we will be having a second wave, there is no argument that the way we’ve worked before will simply never be the same — for white collar workers, at least.

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