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

Nixon Peabody

Nixon Peabody furloughed approximately 25% of its staff, beginning April 6 until “further notice,” according to an April 3 tip to Above the Law. It took further steps on April 6 – ATL reported that 10% of non-partner attorneys, including senior associates, would be cut. Of those let go from the firm, about half would be layoffs with three months of health insurance, and half would be furloughs, presumably with full benefits. According to ALM data, there were 289 non-partner lawyers at the firm in 2019, meaning 28-29 former Nixon Peabody lawyers are now out of work. The firm has not responded[51] to repeated requests for comment and confirmation about the cuts. [49][50]

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright is offering staff[52] in Europe, the Middle East and Asia reduced working hours and pay for one year in response to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as deferring the payment of partner distributions, staff salary rises and bonuses for both groups.

If 75% of eligible staff accept the reduced hours offer, which means they could be asked in the next 12 months to reduce their working hours and pay by 20%, the new program will commence on April 20.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart

The firm on April 21 [53]said it will cut pay through the end of the year for all lawyers, including shareholders, and for staff making over $100,000. Ogletree is reducing compensation for equity shareholders by 20% and for other lawyers by 15%, according to the statement. Staff earning $100,000 or more will have pay cut by 10%, but those making less than that will not have their compensation reduced.

In an April 16 statement, the firm said it was furloughing some staf[54]f and reducing hours for others whose jobs are not suited for remote work.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

The firm is delaying its incoming first-year associate class until 2021, reducing pay for U.S. attorneys and staff firm-wide, reducing some staff hours and altering its 2020 summer associate program. The firm said it is not planning to furlough or lay off employees, according to an April 8 statement.[55] Associates and staff will see pay cuts on a graduated scale. A “small percentage of staff” will also see reductions in hours starting May 1 until September. Partners, of counsel and executive staff will see “deeper cuts.” The firm would not elaborate on what those reductions are. The firm also said it will conduct its 2020 summer associate program virtually and shorten the program’s length to five weeks. It is giving permanent offers now to 2L law students to return to the firm as associates after graduation and is giving current 1Ls offers to return to the firm next summer.

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