INTO THE FRAY – In this week’s Law.com Barometer, Gina Passarella explores how many law firms face pressure from their clients, employees and the general public to take a stand on a host of political and social issues. But doing so can come with far reaching consequences. When Sidley Austin announced it would reimburse the travel costs of Texas emplyoees seeking an abortion, for instance, it caught the ire of the Texas Freedom Caucus, who threatened legislation that would sanction firms with such policies. To be sure, the role firms play in a divided society will go far beyond abortion. And increasingly for firms, taking a stand on these issues isn’t just about being advocates, but also about setting an example as businesses and leaders as well.
FIRMS’ INTERNAL DIVIDE – As law firms try to deftly navigate contentious social issues, it’s not politicians they worry about offending—it’s their own partners and attorneys. Dan Roe reports that internal divisions are causing headaches for firms that find themselves having to take a stance on hot button issues. Even before Roe V. Wade was overturned, firms had to manage how to handle the aftermath of the 2020 election, with some turning down post-election related work, and others eventually dropping election-related clients after their attorneys headed for the exits. Firms’ stance on social and political issues are garnering more attention in part because of the persistence of remote work arrangements. Where in the past, in-office relationships would largely drive a firm’s culture, now a firm’s stated priorities are playing a bigger defining role.