By Justin Wise
Law360 (September 2, 2021, 1:46 PM EDT) — Civil rights firm Sanford Heisler Sharp has delayed its office reopening to January 2022, given the recent surge throughout the U.S. in COVID-19 cases associated with the delta variant.
The firm’s leadership said in an email to all lawyers and personnel late Wednesday that it is now eyeing Jan. 10 as its official office reopening date, according to a copy obtained by Law360. Sanford Heisler has roughly 100 employees spread across six U.S. offices.
“As the COVID-19 surge continues unabated throughout the United States with the daily death toll now averaging — once again — over 1,000 per day, we have decided to delay our return to the office until Monday, January 10, 2022. Your safety and well-being have always been our top priority and will remain our top priority,” the email said.
The memo notes that personnel are still permitted to visit the offices if they desire, as long as they follow firm health protocols. Sanford Heisler in April became one of the first law firms to mandate that employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter its offices. Numerous firms, including many of the biggest in the U.S., have since implemented vaccine mandates for employees and visitors.
Sanford Heisler initially set Sept. 9 as a date in which lawyers would be expected to return to the office at least some of the time. Much of the industry, including firms like Paul Hastings LLP, Gibson Dunn and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, originally adopted similar plans over the summer, with target office return dates in the first couple weeks of September.
San Francisco-headquartered Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP said last week that its original Sept. 13 office return date would be pushed back to Nov. 1. It acknowledged that the date is subject to change. Fox Rothschild LLP also delayed its Sept. 13 official office reopening by two weeks to Sept. 27 and instituted a policy requiring employees working in-person to be vaccinated.
Arnold & Porter and Clifford Chance have also delayed their original September return targets to Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, respectively.
Davis Polk, meanwhile, said this week that it is sticking to its mid-September office return for workers in its New York City office. However, the firm rolled back its original in-office work requirements for associates and counsel in the city. It is not requiring them to come in a specific number of days each week for the initial reopening trial period.
The moves come as businesses across industries once again reevaluate their return to office plans due to a resurgence in COVID-19.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post Tuesday that the tech giant is extending its global “voluntary return-to-office policy” through Jan. 10 because of the worsening conditions in parts of the world.
–Additional reporting by Sarah Martinson and Aebra Coe. Editing by Alyssa Miller.