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

Clayton Utz

Australian law firm Clayton Utz has instituted a hiring freeze and will consider reducing employee hours if economic conditions worsen.

Cozen O’Connor

The firm had asked equity partners to defer a portion of their compensation to the end of the year, between 10% and 20%, according to CEO Michael Heller. The firm furloughed less than 5% of its administrative staff whose jobs could not be performed remotely. According to Heller, those employees will still have their benefits covered by the firm, and will eventually receive 100% of their compensation through the CARES Act. He said the firm was aiming to avoid doing any layoffs or cutting pay for lawyers and staff.

In a May 13 statement, the firm said it furloughed an additional 5% of its administrative staff until July 31, “given what now seems like a slow and methodical transition back to an office working environment throughout the summer and in light of reduced needs for administrative support while working remotely.” The statement added that Cozen O’Connor will pay 100% of those employees’ health benefits throughout that time, and will allow them to keep their PTO. “We do not anticipate additional furloughs,” the firm said.

In a July email,[18] Heller said, as of July 1, the firm is once again paying partners fully. However, Heller did not return a message seeking additional comment about the status of the furloughed employees.

Crowell & Moring

The firm said April 15[19] that it is cutting pay for lawyers and some professional staff by 5% to 25%. Philip Inglima, the firm’s chair, said equity partners will take a 25% compensation cut, income partners will take a 20% cut, and associates and counsel will take a 15% cut. Staff making more than $100,000—about a third of the firm’s staff—also will have their pay reduced 5% to 20%, he said. He said the reductions were temporary and the firm expects to lift them by the end of the year, depending on the impact of the pandemic.

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle

The firm slashed associate salaries[20] by 25%, Above the Law reported April 1. A Curtis spokesman said in an email to that the firm “is taking some steps similar to those reported by other firms in response to COVID-19.”

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