As its lawyers and staff across the country began to return to their offices after a tumultuous 18 months of lockdowns, social distancing, and working from home, the leaders at Lowenstein Sandler wanted to take the hard-won lessons learned from the pandemic and implement them in a positive way. It was time to reenvision the post-COVID workplace and demonstrate to current and prospective employees the depth of the firm’s commitment to their wellbeing.
“During the pandemic, we quickly learned that we could work from home as efficiently and effectively as ever,” says Lowenstein Chair and Managing Partner Gary M. Wingens. “But we wanted to do more. By expanding our benefits, renovating our physical facilities, and increasing our commitment to initiatives focused on mental health and inclusion, we are striving to make our firm a place where people really look forward to coming to the office.”
Lowenstein Sandler is pioneering several avenues to create this new reality, including the formation of new Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), expanded benefits offerings, and dynamic new office spaces. Wingens continues: “The reason for these initiatives is simple: We want to support our employees at every stage of their careers and their lives.”
Lowenstein has always been committed to increasing awareness of mental health issues in the legal profession, and the challenges of the past 18 months have further emphasized the need for support in this critical area. In 2019, the firm signed onto the ABA Well-Being Pledge, which was launched to address the disproportionate effect that substance abuse and mental health issues have on the legal profession. This year, the firm plans to launch a new ERG for both attorneys and Business Service Group (BSG) members that focus on wellness, removing the stigma surrounding mental health challenges, and educating people on how to best address and communicate about these issues.
Other ERGs scheduled to launch in 2022 include:
- The Chronic Disease/Differently Abled People Network, a support network for individuals and family members living with a chronic disease and/or a disability and a forum to build awareness around chronic disease and disability inclusion
- BSG Team Members of Color, which will focus on enhancing an environment of inclusiveness through mentorship, networking, recruitment, and professional development
- Veterans and Family Members, which will embrace and support the community of LS attorney and BSG veterans as well as family members of veterans and active duty-military through shared experiences, veteran recruitment, and outward engagement.
“These new ERGs will offer a way for even more members of our community to get involved in the many offerings we provide to help everyone feel supported and connected,” says Donatella Verrico, Chief Human Resources Officer. “We continually try to provide education about the issues that impact the daily lives of our lawyers and staff, and we are always looking for more ways to help.”
The firm also plans on expanding its insurance benefits to serve the needs of a wider, more diverse workforce. The firm’s medical plan will waive the medical necessity requirement that formerly asked for a diagnosis of infertility for services such as elective egg harvesting, storage, and other family building services, and it will reimburse up to $25,000 per adoption and surrogacy for expenses related to agency, legal, and travel fees. Lowenstein will continue to offer generous parental caregiver leave benefits and access to center-based or in-home child backup care through its partnership with Bright Horizons, and it will add to the suite of Bright Horizons benefits options for Virtual Tutoring and College Coach programs. These expanded benefits, along with the firm’s paid caregiver leave benefits, will provide support aligned with Lowenstein’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for employees at different stages of family building.
As a way to support employees in each phase of their lives, additional services have been added. For example, employees and adult dependents covered under Lowenstein’s Aetna medical plans will be able to take advantage, at no extra cost, of a new program called Hinge Health that targets members with chronic musculoskeletal conditions like knee, back, hip, neck, and shoulder pain. Lowenstein will also offer Noom’s Healthy Weight program free of charge to all employees. Noom employs a portfolio of evidence-based behavior change techniques via advanced technology and coaching through motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more clinically proven techniques.
This focus on wellness extends to the firm’s physical spaces. During the pandemic, Lowenstein took stringent measures in each of its locations to maintain social distancing and other safety and hygiene requirements. The firm resolved to apply that same standard of care going forward. That’s why the Manhattan office space (currently undergoing an extensive expansion and renovation) and Lowenstein’s new office in Utah will be reconfigured to accommodate more flexible hybrid work schedules and ample collaboration.
The firm’s New York office will be outfitted with the latest in mobility technology as well as expanded fitness, health, and wellness facilities. The firm expects that the space will be both LEED- and WELL-certified. WELL certification, which is provided by the International WELL Building Institute, offers a tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings as well as a flexible framework for improving health and human experience through office space design. Lowenstein hopes to attain both certifications in all of its offices in the coming year.
As reported in Reuters, the new space “will serve both as a lure to prospective hires and as a model for the legal industry for promoting health and wellbeing,” Wingens says. “With more employees opting for hybrid work arrangements, we need to find new ways to foster collaboration, relationship building, and firm culture. An office layout that encourages hygiene and safety as well as flexibility, collaboration, and equity will ease the transition to a new model of work that allows us all to have the ‘best of both worlds.’”
By creating a safe and welcoming place to work through an inclusive culture, new ERGs, expansive benefits and wellness programs, and innovative architecture and design, Lowenstein expects to continue attracting the best and brightest lawyers and professional staff to all its offices throughout 2022 and beyond, continuing its upward trajectory of growth and remaining firmly committed to caring for its people.
About Lowenstein Sandler LLP
Lowenstein Sandler is a national law firm with over 350 lawyers based in New York, New Jersey, Palo Alto, Utah, and Washington, D.C. The firm represents leaders in virtually every sector of the global economy, with particular emphasis on investment funds, life sciences, and technology. Recognized for its entrepreneurial spirit and high standard of client service, the firm is committed to the interests of its clients, colleagues, and communities.
Stephen J. Kimmerling
Director, Marketing Communications
Lowenstein Sandler LLP
T: +1 973.597.6176