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

Davidoff Hutcher & Citron

The New York City-based midsize law firm filed a WARN notice that said the coronavirus’s impact had forced it to lay off 34 people. Jeffrey Citron, a co-managing partner at the firm, said the firm laid off its secretarial and back-office staff, calling the move “purely preventative” and likening it to “playing defense” in an Apr. 14 phone call. He said the firm hopes to rehire the employees when circumstances improve.

“It was very difficult to have the secretaries working, not being in the office,” he said. While the firm’s attorneys “all have laptops, and most of the attorneys are computer-literate,” he said, it was harder to adapt the work of support staff to the pandemic’s restrictions.

Davis & Gilbert

This midsize NYC law firm is cutting pay for partners, associates and staff. For a number of partners, the firm is substantially reducing the base draw amounts so that all partners now have the same base draw amount. The firm is also temporarily limiting partner distributions to 75% of that base amount. And it plans to defer the mid-summer distribution when partners would typically receive an advance against their year-end profit allocations.

Salaries for associates, senior attorneys and counsel have been reduced by 15%. Staff and manager salaries for those earning over $150,000 per year have been cut by 15%; and the firm is reducing salaries for those earning between $70,000 and $150,000 by 10%. All salary cuts are effective May 4. Salaries below $70,000 per year will not be adjusted.

Davis Wright Tremaine

The firm is taking a number of measures, including reducing quarterly equity partner distributions with the expectation that total equity partner compensation will be at least 25% below budget for 2020. For salaried lawyers and staff, pay will be reduced beginning May 1 through the end of the year. The cuts will be 15% for contract partners; 12% for associates, counsel and of counsel; 15% for C-level executives; and 6-10% for staff based on salary level, with no reduction below $60,000.

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