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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Law firm’s ‘be in the office by 9.15am or else’ email causes storm


An email from a British manager at a global law firm which demanded that lawyers in his Shanghai office stop coming into work late has caused a storm after going viral.

In a lengthy memo circulated to all associates and staff that was subsequently leaked to a legal blog, Andrew McGinty, a managing partner at Hogan Lovells, demanded that everyone should be at their desks by 9.15am – or explain why not.
“The Shanghai partners take the view that fee-earning staff are expected to manage their own time in a professional manner and that their renumeration takes account of the fact that there will be times when they need to work long hours to meet client deadlines or expectations,” he wrote.
This meant that there was “no automatic right for fee earners to arrive late the day after late working” and any late arrival could only take place with the agreement of a supervising partner.
“Persistent non-justifiable lateness will henceforth be included as a factor that will be considered in relation to internal promotions, appraisals, pay reviews and renewal of contract decisions,” McGinty said.
When contacted by the Independent, both McGinty nor Hogan Lovells, which employs 2,500 lawyers worldwide, declined to comment on the email. But Elie Mystal, editor of website Above the Law, which published it, was incensed over it.
“Do they also need to get a hall pass to go to the bathroom? Look, you’ve got people who have work to get done, hours to bill, and probably calls with New York or London that have to be made at odd Shanghai hours,” she said. “As long as all of that is being done, who cares if somebody is at work by 9.15 or not?”
Moreover, in a digital, always-on world, “surely, making people be at their desks at a set time every day is beyond dumb and totally inefficient”, Mystal added.
But one commentator on the site disagreed. “This is how everyone below you lives, beholden to the time clock no matter what. Support staff has to be in the office at 9 every morning come hell or high water even if they were working until past midnight the day before…so stop bitching and count yourselves lucky to be employed as an associate at all making a high salary,” they said.
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett