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Law360 (January 29, 2021, 10:12 AM EST) -- Davis Wright Tremaine LLP announced this week that it has adopted a vaccine policy for attorneys and staff that encourages them to get a COVID-19 vaccine once eligible and only allows those who have done so to work in the office or attend firm-sponsored events.
The firm's policy encourages attorneys and staff to get the vaccine "as promptly as possible" when they are eligible. After everyone is eligible and has had the opportunity to get vaccinated, they will be required to show proof of vaccination to go to the office or attend events.
"DWT continues to place the health and safety of all of our lawyers and staff as our highest priority. As vaccines against COVID-19 become increasingly available, we are adopting a policy to safeguard the health of our employees and their families, our clients and visitors, and our communities," Jeff Gray, Davis Wright managing partner, said in a statement late Thursday. "We believe it is our responsibility to do our part, and we need everyone's help to be able to get back to more normalized operations as quickly as we can."
Under the policy, those who cannot get a vaccination as a result of a medical condition or religious belief are encouraged to contact the firm's human resources department to determine what accommodations can be made.
The firm said it will provide paid time off for attorneys and staff to receive the vaccine and recover from its side effects, as needed, and it will reimburse the cost if it is not covered by the government or insurance.
Additionally, it said, if it is possible the firm plans eventually to provide the vaccine on premises as it has done with flu shots in the past.
"Until the vaccines are widely available and significant portions of the population become vaccinated, please continue to work from home unless your work requires you to come into the office. If you do come to the office, observe all current firm health and safety protocols — even if you have been vaccinated," the firm advised attorneys and staff in an email.
Davis Wright appears to be a first mover among BigLaw firms when it comes to publicly announcing its vaccine policy.
Association of Legal Administrators executive director April Campbell told Law360 on Jan. 13 she did not know of any law firms that had vaccine policies in place, and in fact had not even seen drafts of policy language shared among the organization's members yet.
Campbell said it appeared that firms were waiting for someone to take the lead and were gauging the temperature in the room, or more specifically the temperature at their firm and in their location.
"Everyone is thinking about it. Many are getting pressure from staff to have a response or answer on whether the vaccine will be required to come back into the office," she said. "But as with everything law firm, they want to know what everyone else is doing."
--Edited by Brian Baresch.
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