(And hope you enjoyed this second April Fool’s Day story as well…but…* see below.)
The Legal Introverts League (LIL) is demanding that commercial law firms around the world allow home-working to continue long after the current crisis has passed, and that they put in place new HR policies that guarantee the right to permanent remote working.
The Covid-19 crisis has caused a lot of disruption, but one silver lining for introverts in the legal sector is the prospect of avoiding the dreaded office.
However, many fear that eventually they will be pressed back into the waiting arms of their extrovert colleagues who like nothing better than an open-plan working environment, asking about what they did at the weekend, and organising ebullient group activities seemingly designed to torture the introverted.
Artificial Lawyer spoke to Bob Placid, founder of LIL, about the group and its demands.
‘LIL was always a very small organisation, in part because I was never the type to enjoy going to meet-ups and that kind of thing. In fact, it was just me,’ Placid told this site. ‘But, with the lockdown and everyone working from home, and probably people spending more time online, fellow introverts seem to have found me now. Membership has increased exponentially in recent days. It’s tremendous and heartwarming.’
Artificial Lawyer asked if LIL’s demands were realistic, given the current extrovert-bias of today’s business culture?
‘I think our demands are very realistic. We have had to put up with a culture of presenteeism that is fixated on keeping as many people as possible in the office at all times. Things have improved a bit in recent years, and we can now have a day off a week or so from the office, but we still can never work permanently from home. The excuses are always: it’s not practical; the firm could never function with so many people working remotely; there would be security issues, and so on.
‘But, look at us now. We’re all at home and frankly it’s going very well on an operational level. Our tech teams are excellent, and they’ve really made it all possible. I think a lot of people also underestimated how good the technology is that we have now for remote working. All in all, it’s made – perhaps unintentionally – the lives of introverts a lot easier and more pleasant. We don’t want to give that up when all of this is over.’
So, what now?
Placid explained that over the next few weeks and months they will be lobbying management teams at large law firms and inhouse legal teams to permit permanent home-working and write into the businesses’ HR policies a formal recognition that staff have the right to never come to the office unless absolutely necessary.
Artificial Lawyer then asked: that sounds like a noble project, but what if management refuses? What then?
‘We are never going back. We will organise a strike if necessary. I believe it’s our right to stay at home and work from there permanently. We have already proven it’s possible,’ Placid added.
He went on to say that LIL will be contacting the Law Society of England & Wales, the American Bar Association, and other representative bodies for lawyers, as well as organisations for other professionals in the legal sector, to seek their support.
If you would like to know more about LIL, or want to help with their campaign, you can find more information here.
Note: AL received several comments via email and social media from people saying that they really wished this was true, and/or that they could have believed it was true. And in truth, the reason why this was chosen as a subject for April Fool’s Day is that it was a good way to humorously introduce a subject that’s actually quite real and experienced by many, and does need to be explored openly.
The central idea above, i.e. that we shouldn’t have to work from an office if we prefer not to/are not cut out for office life but still have much to give an organisation, (and it’s not that vital that we be there, of course), is something that is bound to become more of a subject of serious debate in the future. Any road, hope you found it funny, but also that it perhaps stirred some deeper thoughts about work and where we do it.