Large law firms such as Jenner & Block and Ropes & Gray, seeking to ease lawyers and staff back into firm offices, are using a phased-in approach to their return schedule—with a plan of gradually increasing workers’ days in the office, rather than a hard deadline.

Law firms are carefully planning their office returns because the stakes are high to get it right. Potential laterals and younger lawyers are evaluating the firms’ policies as an indication of their culture, legal industry recruiters and consultants said. At the same time, law firms are formalizing return policies amid a patchwork of evolving guidelines from federal, state and local authorities, including new rules just this week removing restrictions for vaccinated people.