While the coronavirus crisis rages across America and deaths hit 427,626 at the time of this writing, biglaw firms appear to be pursuing a wait and see strategy when it comes to vaccinating their workforce. According to CDC guidelines, attorneys and legal professionals will be part of the next vaccine distribution group, so law firms quickly lose time making decisions about their vaccine policy.
Will biglaw companies require their lawyers and employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine? In a brief Above the Law survey, 48% of respondents said their companies should need vaccination, while 41% said their companies should encourage but not require vaccination.
A biglaw company decided to come out as that first making this important decision for your employees. Will other law firms follow suit?
Davis Wright Tremaine has announced that once its employees are eligible to be vaccinated, they will be encouraged to do so as soon as possible. After that, only those who have been vaccinated are allowed to enter the office or participate in company-sponsored events. In the future, the company will require proof of vaccination. Lawyers and staff who cannot be vaccinated because of a disability, advice from a medical provider, or religious beliefs can make reasonable arrangements with the firm.
“DWT continues to attach great importance to the health and safety of all of our lawyers and employees. As vaccines against COVID-19 increase, we have a policy to protect the health of our employees and their families, our customers and visitors, and our communities, ”said Jeff Gray, Managing Partner of DWT. “We believe it is our responsibility to do our part and we need everyone’s help to get back to normal as soon as possible.”
Not only does Davis Wright Tremaine give employees paid time off to get the vaccine and recover from side effects if needed, the company reimburses employees for the cost of the vaccine in case the government or insurance does not cover it. If the law firm is able to do so, COVID vaccinations will be offered to attorneys and office staff, just like previous flu vaccination clinics the law firm offered.
DWT has requested that all employees continue to work from home until vaccines are widely available and a significant portion of the population has been vaccinated, unless office work is clearly necessary. If a lawyer or employee is required to come into the firm, all strict health and safety guidelines (i.e. wearing masks and social distancing) must be followed, even if that employee has been vaccinated.
After a biglaw company offers adequate guidelines on COVID-19 vaccinations, it is very likely that others will announce their own plans – plans that are no doubt similar to those that Davis Wright Tremaine has already put in place.
Which company will be next to issue its vaccination guidelines? The biglaw world watches and waits impatiently.
Earlier: Will Biglaw Firms Need Lawyers and Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Staci Zaretsky is Senior Editor at Above the Law, where she has been working since 2011. She would love to hear from you. Please send her an email with tips, questions, comments or criticism. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.