Pay Cuts, Layoffs, and More: How Law Firms Are Managing the Pandemic

The firm said in July that it resumed distributions[42] to equity partners in May and that it was “rapidly catching up on distributions.”

Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin

Marshall Dennehey president and CEO Mark Thompson announced in a firmwide email March 30 that the firm is suspending its 4% employer 401(k) match[43] until next year. The policy is effective May 1. The firm is doing so in an effort to avoid layoffs, he said.

Mayer Brown

The firm announced on May 6[44] that it plans to reduce salaries by 15% for nonequity lawyers and staff who make more than $200,000. Salaries for business services staff who earn less than $200,000 will see their pay reduced according to a graduated scale. The firm already reduced distributions for equity partners in March.The firm also announced the start of a program that will allow both its lawyers and staff to request up to 12 weeks of sabbatical. The firm has also pushed back the start date for its U.S. associate class from fall 2020 to January 2021.

McDermott Will & Emery

The firm is making cuts to its professional ranks, eliminating an undisclosed number of staff in response to the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout. “While our firm is well positioned to weather economic turbulence, we are also not immune to it,” said a firm spokesperson[45] on April 22. “Unfortunately, this meant making the difficult decision to part ways with some of our valued staff professionals and to furlough some others.”

Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone

Miller Canfield reduced attorney pay and reduced its head count [46]by at least nine lawyers. The Detroit-based firm laid off one principal and six non-principals, including three associates, according to a statement on Above the Law on July 10. The firm furloughed two additional full-time attorneys, including one associate.

Miller Canfield CEO Michael McGee told Law.com in June that the firm was planning on pay cuts and “some furloughs and layoffs consistent with what we’re seeing throughout the legal marketplace.” McGee indicated that lawyers who have seen a slow down in their work will be furloughed. Starting June 15, he added, Miller Canfield planned to enact salary cuts for its equity and income partners, associates and professional staff. Income partners had their salaries cut by 10% while associates and staff saw their salaries get hit by 7.5%, all on an annualized basis, McGee said. No cuts were enacted on anyone making less than $50,000, nor did anyone’s salary drop below that threshold, he said. The firm had received a $5 million to 10 million loan as part of the Paycheck Protection Program.

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