I frequently discuss the pros and cons of working virtually. I agree that lawyers need office time for in-person interaction but was surprised by what one Hunton & Williams partner has to say about the topic. 

In Face Time in the WiFi Age (NY Lawyer, 27 Feb 2008), Hunton partner Dionne Carney Rainey extols the virtues of requiring associates to be in the office Monday through Friday, if not more. I leave it to others to comment on the impact this article could have on associate moral.

What I find most surprising is her statement

“It is imperative that new associates be present in the office during normal business hours so they can meet other lawyers, obtain work and start forming relationships. If an associate is not sitting in her office when a partner comes by to give an assignment, the partner will move on to the next associate.”

Clients should be dismayed that work assignments depend on who happens to be in the office. In an age of specialization and high billing rates, clients should hope firms allocate work based on
(1) understanding the client’s matter and matching skills appropriately and
(2) balancing lawyer work loads so that assigned lawyers have sufficient “share of mind” for the matter.

I thought the age of the completely fungible associate had passed. If not, let’s hope billing rates reflect the commoditized skill set.