More Law Firms Should Offer Work Cell Phones To Their Employees

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There was a time when it was common for lawyers and staff at many law firms to receive cell phones belonging to the law firms they worked for. It used to be less common and more expensive to own smartphones, and many law firms have provided these devices to employees so they can be more productive. In recent years, most law firms do not issue cell phones to employees for work, possibly because of expense and because almost everyone has a smartphone these days. Also, many people may not want to have two phones to carry at the same time. However, more law firms should offer their employees cell phones at work so that lawyers and staff can better separate the boundaries between work and personal life.

When I was a summer partner ten years ago, it was common for many Biglaw firms and other stores to provide smartphones to their partners and some employees. Indeed, I received a BlackBerry as a summer associate, and that was the only time I have owned this legendary device. When I returned to the firm a year later as a full-time partner, I was handed an iPhone – by then the firm had made the transition to iPhones.

Having a work phone has come in handy in a number of circumstances. I was able to reduce the amount of data I was using on my personal phone. In addition, I did not need to give my personal phone number to co-workers, clients and others since I was able to provide the information for my work phone. Also, it was easier to separate my work from my personal life since all my business contacts, emails and other work related content were on my work phone while my home phone was used almost exclusively for personal purposes.

I also didn’t mind having to carry two phones in order to have access to work equipment and also to have my personal phone. Indeed, I felt a bit like a baller with two phones, although a lot of people joked that only drug dealers had two phones (probably a reference to “Breaking Bad” as I think of it with the recoil). It wasn’t too inconvenient for me to carry this work phone, and in a strange way, it was sort of a status symbol that showed that I was working for an employer who had the resources to provide me with a phone.

As I progressed in my career, it became less and less likely that law firms would provide business phones to their employees. In order to compensate for this, law firms typically pressure employees to use their own phones for work-related matters. In many cases, law firms require employees to install software on their phones that allows law firms to delete working papers if the employee is fired or otherwise leaves the firm.

This is extremely problematic as it is unclear whether law firms are able to track employees through the apps they need to install on their phones in order to access work content on their personal devices. Additionally, I have heard anecdotally about problems when law firms delete work data after a separation, and some of my friends have lost all of their contacts on their phones apparently due to the apps their firms made to them. install on their devices. Additionally, employees may have higher personal expenses if they have to use their personal devices for work matters, and not all law firms provide employee funds to offset the cost of using personal devices. for professional matters.

In addition, requiring employees to use their personal devices for business purposes can further blur the lines between work and personal life. Work-life balance has come under attack in recent years, and this separation is much easier to control if employees have work phones. For example, employees can choose whether they want to bring their work phone for vacations, vacation trips, and other personal life events. It is much more difficult for people to leave their personal phones at home when they want to be disconnected from work because people rely on their personal phones for all kinds of uses. In addition, the physical separation between the use of one device for work and another for personal use can help individuals maintain a wall between their personal life and their work.

Of course, many people may not want to have a work phone, as they may not want to lug around multiple devices and feel more comfortable with a home phone that they have chosen. However, more law firms should give employees the option of having a work phone if they want to separate their work from their personal life. It is unfair for law firms to force employees to use their personal devices for work reasons if they do not want to and giving employees the option of having a work phone allows employees to make informed decisions on the way they approach work.


Jordan Rothman is a partner of Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Journals, a website explaining how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan by email at [email protected]


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