Before the pandemic, GCs could walk the halls and drop in on people to see what they’re working on and how they’re doing. With everyone remote, however, a substitute technique is the drop in phone call (or Zoom call). If you chat for 10 minutes or so with a work-from-home lawyer, you can develop a much better sense of what is happening in the department and its morale.
This technique works best when the GC (or other managing lawyers) sets the time every day or every other day to make one or more calls. The person they call ought to be randomly chosen so that everyone gets a chance and there’s no pattern of favoritism or avoidance. Leaving a message can also show support, but the ideal is a conversation where the GC listens more than talks.
Everyone feels that they are too busy to do this, but if the welfare of your lawyers and staff means something to you, and you want to keep abreast of what’s going on, personal outreach cannot be beat. Especially in large law departments, the GC can feel remote and intimidating to most of the lawyers, but a chat about the weekend, about stresses and concerns, and some personal disclosures can go a long way to lessen that gulf.