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

Pryor Cashman

Pryor Cashman has furloughed some associates[57] in response to a slowdown in work related to the coronavirus pandemic, managing partner Ronald Shechtman said. The leader of the 185-attorney firm wouldn’t specify the number of associates or say whether any practice groups were particularly impacted, but said the firm is “hopeful” and expects it can reinstate them once work picks back up.


PwC’s legal arm is freezing promotions, pay raises and bonuses across its whole U.K. business.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Founder John Quinn confirmed May 11[58] that the firm has delayed partner distributions that were originally scheduled for April until July to respond to the economic uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic. The firm has also adjusted the size of partner draws for April, May and June. The changes will be revisited in July.

Quinn would not comment on the specific size of the draws but emphasized that reductions were not universal. “Some people are getting less than before, while some are getting more,” he said. “It’s not true that all are getting reduced.”

Reed Smith

Reed Smith is reducing partner distributions [59]in response to the disruption and economic effects of the new coronavirus, the firm confirmed March 30. After first announcing that it would reduce monthly draws by 40% for the next five months for equity partners, and 15% for the next three months for nonequity partners globally, the firm said April 16 that it would also cut associate pay by 15% and counsel pay by 10%.

Later in April[60], the firm said it will also defer its equity partners’ bonuses into two payments, with partners paid half their bonus amount on the scheduled payment date, and the other half three months later. But, the firm said, ”Fixed share partner, counsel and associate bonuses will be paid in full and on their regularly scheduled pay dates.”

Ropes & Gray

The firm confirmed May 14[61] it is offering a voluntary buyouts plan to U.S. business support staff. Employees would receive one week of severance pay for every year of service to the firm, plus an additional four weeks of pay, equaling a minimum of 12 weeks or a maximum of 30 weeks’ pay. The firm will also pay its share of health benefits for employees who take the buyout through the end of 2020. Attorneys are not eligible for the buyout. Most departures will take place between June 19 and Aug. 3. “We’re being proactive. We need to take steps now to address our new reality,” a firm spokesperson said.

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