With current events now affecting every law firm, this blog has been superseded byThe Lawyer’s Pandemic Hub. For all the latest updates, analysis and advice relating to the coronavirus, visit that page.
Simmons & Simmons delays partner distributions.
Slaughter and May delays partner distributions.
Bird & Bird delays partner distributions.
Womble Bond Dickinson furloughs some non-fee earners and delays partner distributions.
Brown Rudnick furloughs around 17 City fee-earners and temporarily docks pay for those earning over $100,000.
Taylor Wessing decides to withhold distribution of profits to its partners and furloughs at least 20 people, both fee-earners and non-fee-earners.
Mayer Brown launches an emergency service in order to support staff with problems working from home.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner decides to defer the payment of certain portions of planned partner distributions and makes a 15 per cent salary reduction for its staff across the international network for a period of 13 weeks starting next month.
Linklaters decides not to pay the next quarter’s distribution of profits to partners, which had been scheduled to take place in June.
Eversheds Sutherland furloughs 39 members of staff and sets up a hardship fund.
Clifford Chance says will run its 2020 summer vacation scheme as a three-day virtual event.
Herbert Smith Freehills reduces partner profit distributions and freezes salaries.
Pinsent Masons places some of its non-fee-earners on furlough and considers a change to its quarterly cycle of partner payouts.
Eversheds Sutherland debuts an app that allows staff to interact on themes that go beyond their routine jobs as it seeks to counteract the sense of loneliness sparked by the sustained remote working period.
The need for extra tech became apparent as firms scrambled to adapt to new ways of working once the coronavirus hit.
Hogan Lovells purchased hundreds of laptops globally as it emerged not enough equipment would be available when the firm carried out a remote working test last month.
Meanwhile the operations team at CMS also ordered about 600 monitors for lawyers and other employees in response to a demand for additional screens.
Ely Place Chambers begins the process of dissolving, the downturn in the economy due to coronavirus having compounded the set’s financial woes.
Walker Morris furloughs staff to save costs and partners agree “equivalent reductions in monthly drawings.”
Shearman & Sterling’s Italian arm tells its staff that it will not be handing out any pay rises this year.
Taylor Wessing ends part-time working contracts with an extensive pool of students in Germany.
Humphries Kerstetter cuts its charge-out rates across the board. Partner rates, which previously ranged between £390 to £450 an hour, are set at a standard £350 as of 1 April.
Reed Smith slows partner cash distributions in a bid to counteract the potential economic impact on its business. Management at the firm introduces new contingency measures that will reduce monthly draws by 40 per cent for equity partners and 15 per cent for fixed share partners.
Pinsent Masons calls on members of its Brexit taskforce to deal with client requests linked to coronavirus, with 15 partners pulled in from different practice areas across the world to provide relevant commercial guidance.
Simmons & Simmons assembles an internal working group tasked with conducting a review of the economic fallout stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Henderson Chambers announces it will not recruit pupils in 2020.
It says: “Interviews would need to be conducted by three or four-way video conferencing. In view of increasing pressures on telephone and video conferencing facilities and their capacity, chambers cannot be confident that interviews conducted this way would be a fair reflection of a candidates ability.”
Meanwhile, other chambers including One Essex Court, 7KBW, 3VB and Brick Court cancel their mini-pupillage schemes. Meanwhile, Blackstone has taken steps to undertake them remotely.
Herbert Smith Freehills / Mishcon de Reya / Skadden / Slaughter and May / White & Case
All five firms follow the lead of Shearman to postpone their spring vacation schemes.
Mishcon Academy director Patrick Connolly says: “The health and safety of our people, our clients and visitors is our top priority. With this in mind, we have taken the decision to defer our spring vacation scheme until the summer.”
The Bar Standards Board postpones BPTC exams set for April.
Linklaters moves to full remote working in London until further notice.
The University of Law and City Law School suspend face to face teaching with classes taught online where possible.
Bristows cancels two-day workshop for students due to take place next week, and the open day the following week: “We do not want students to have to travel into London unnecessarily for events that we can hold at a later date.”
A second employee of the firm tests positive for the virus, this time in Frankfurt. Closes the 12th floor of its German building ahead of a deep-clean. Around 40 people on the affected floor are now remote working.
13 March 2020
Cuatrecasas imposes mandatory working from home policies for all staff worldwide
Reed Smith asks all of its workforce in the US, Europe and Middle East to work remotely until further notice. All offices remain open for business, with a team of essential employees helping on matters that include the support of clients needing in-person attendance.
A spokesperson said: “Our goal is to limit the spread of COVID-19. The firm’s well-tested and robust remote working capabilities are such that we can continue to deliver client service as we accommodate this necessity. Many of our people are always working remotely, and our system is already built for this.
“We will regularly evaluate our position based on the best available health information. We are keeping our workforce informed of developments, and we will of course keep our clients informed as well. We remain, as always, fully committed to serving our clients at the highest levels and we will ensure they continue to receive the quality services for which the firm is renowned.”
Taylor Wessing closes office until 18 March after employee tests positive for coronavirus.
Linklaters postpones two-day insight scheme for first-year undergraduate students.
Shearman & Sterling’s London office postpones spring vac scheme, which had been scheduled for the second half of March.
Sidley Austin’s London personnel are encouraged to work from home for the coming two weeks, though the office remains open.
Simmons & Simmons tells London staff to work from home on Monday 16.
Outer Temple Chambers closes chambers for the day with all people working remotely.
AKD tells staff to work from home.
“To further minimise the risk of contagion, we decided that everyone at our offices in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (both fee earners and staff) will work from home, unless there is a client related or other urgent/relevant reason not to do so. We asked them to use video conferencing facilities, to set up conference calls, and if possible to postpone both internal and external meetings. All basic support will be available at our Benelux offices. Obviously, if they have a cold, cough or a fever, they are not allow to come to the office and stay at home anyway. We realise the impact of these measures, but we find it important to limit the risk of the spread of the coronavirus as much as possible.”
Uria “strongly recomends” that employees and lawyers work from home and do not come to the office. Nevertheless, its offices remain open for now. In Barcelona, half the staff are working from home and half are in the office. The offices in Bilbao and Valencia remain open for the moment.
12 March 2020
Half of Hogan Lovells’ US employees worked from home on Thursday 12 March, with the other half due to do the same on Friday 13. The firm’s UK offices will follow the same pattern on Tuesday 17 March and Wednesday 18 March. A spokesperson for the firm said: “We already have a significant number of people who are equipped to work remotely and we have a lot of experience of supporting teams from managing the current outbreak as well as incidents such as storms, floods, and earthquakes over many years. These tests are designed to make sure our people are fully prepared in the event of us having to close one of our largest offices at short notice.”
Burford Capital asks staff in New York to work from home following government advice. The litigation funder is delaying the release of its full 2019 financial results for up to three weeks. Burford’s CEO, Chris Boggart said: “We regret the delay in the release of our 2019 results, but these are unprecedented circumstances and the health and safety of our team is our first priority. This is a rapidly evolving situation. Burford is acting on strong medical advice and following the lead of a number of other respected firms.”
Listed companies have faced serious drops in their share price amid COVID-19, with Burford’s dropping by almost 10 per cent earlier this week.
Besides cancelation of events, allowing working from home, heightened security and hygiene measures, the Portuguese firm is also controlling exits and entrances in all of its Portuguese offices, and are doing “stress tests” to test their pandemic/epidemic contingency plans.
VdA tells employees to work from home and created a ‘reserve group’ of employees who will “ensure the continuity of operations in case of contamination”, as well as cancelling all extended meetings, travel, events and other risk situations.
ECIJA makes working from home compulsory.
Closes its 800-staff Sydney office due to a suspected case of COVID-19. The office is expected to re-open next Monday, and all of its 800 staff are working from home in the meantime.
Norton Rose Fulbright
The NRF Sydney office also decides to send some of the firm’s staff home after a staff member reported exposure to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. The firm said part of its Sydney office remains operational; however, people on potentially affected floors are working remotely for the rest of the week. The decision was made after a
11 March 2020
Osborne Clarke postpones international partners’ conference, which was due to take place on 30-31 March.
“Each year this is an exciting and productive event which establishes and builds on relationships between partners and clients. This year, however, given the uncertainty around COVID-19, bringing together 270 partners from 26 locations would present an unnecessary risk to the health and well-being of our employees, clients, suppliers and local communities.
“We would like to thank everybody who has worked so hard on the planning and logistics of this year’s event. We are hoping to reschedule the conference for the autumn.”
Garrigues tells all Madrid staff to work from home following guidance from the Spanish government, though no suspected cases reported in the firm. More than 1,600 cases of coronavirus have now been reported in Spain, however, with close to 600 of those in the Madrid region.
Analysis: The size of the Italian headache
As Italy’s economic hub, Milan is a key destination for half (25) of The Lawyer Corporate 50 which have offices in the city. DLA Piper, the world’s largest firm, has the most significant presence with 54 partners split between bases in Milan (33 partners) and Rome (21 partners). Dentons and Baker McKenzie also both have two offices in Italy. With 26 partners, including 17 in Milan, Dentons is the larger of the pair, Bakers has 25 partners across its two offices, 19 of whom are in Milan.
In five years the coronavirus will be reflected upon as the match that lit the agile working flame, with firms from Milan to Palermo directing lawyers to work from home in a bid to contain the virus. It’s a trend that will surely spread across Europe as firms struggle to manage the outbreak.
9 March 2020
Quinn Emanuel closes New York office and tells staff to work from home from 9 to 13 March after a partner tests positive for coronavirus.
Simmons & Simmons‘ Milan office denies entry to anyone who has taken public transport to get there. Firm instructs Milan staff to work from home and to go into the office only for urgent matters. While reception stays open, access to the firm is guaranteed only to authorised parties.
6 March 2020
Spanish firm has activated internal protocol which recommends not flying internationally.
5 March 2020
Closed its Sydney office when an employee told the firm his wife was a family member of an elderly lady who died of COVID-19 earlier this week in Sydney.
A day later (6 March), the firm confirmed the employee’s wife returned a negative test, meaning he does not have to be tested, and said: “It’s return to business as usual for now.”
Partner conference, meant to be in Berlin, is now being held as a virtual meeting instead.
“We have invested in a suite of technology tools to help our people work from home and are encouraging them to test these if we need to implement a remote working policy.
As a firm, we have been responding to the outbreak for over five weeks in our Asia offices, with teams working from home or in split team fashion to reduce the number of people in the office at any one time and avoid peak commuting hours. We are therefore well-prepared and ready to respond to any disruption that may occur to other offices.”
Postponed partner conference in Miami.
“At Paul Hastings, the wellbeing of our clients and colleagues is our highest priority. Given the risks surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak and the international travel restrictions imposed by various countries where we have offices, it became impossible to hold any firm-wide meetings under the circumstances, resulting in the postponement of our partners’ meeting at the end of March. We have issued guidance to everyone in our firm regarding the impact of COVID-19 and have formed a task force team to address the questions and concerns of our clients.”
Simmons & Simmons
Postponed partner conference in Monaco
“In response to the ongoing outbreak of Coronavirus across parts of Europe and Asia, Simmons & Simmons has regretfully decided to postpone its partner conference until a later date. The firm believes that this decision will safeguard the health of employees across its international network.”
Cancelled its strategy day on Friday 6 March.
3 March 2020
Cancelled partner conference in Boca Raton, Florida. Some meetings will still take place virtually.
“We have been actively monitoring travel guidance from various authorities related to the global outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). While we cannot predict the future progress of COVID-19, out of an abundance of caution for the wellbeing of our personnel, we are cancelling our 2020 annual partners’ meeting.”
28 February 2020
Latham & Watkins
Cancelled partner conference in New York.
“After careful consideration, and with the health and well-being of our colleagues and clients foremost in mind, we made the difficult decision to cancel our global partners meeting. While we perceive the risks to be small, safety is our first priority, and we thought this decision was in the best interests of all concerned given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.”
Latham also cancelled a client reception planned for 5 March.
27 February 2020
Partner hospitalised and employees infected.
In a 5 March statement, the firm says: “Wolf Theiss now has the overall results of the coronavirus testing by our Vienna employees: Of a total of almost 300 employees tested, 293 were negative (no infection) and three were positive (infection was found). All of the 80 employees tested in the second test group on Monday tested negative. The three employees who tested positive in the first test group are still in domestic quarantine. This ensures maximum security for employees, clients and courts.
Of the three employees who tested positive, only one person had had contact with clients in the past four weeks. These clients have already been informed by Wolf Theiss. Clients who were not informed by Wolf Theiss had no contact with employees who were positive. One person had contact with a court, which was also informed.
Wolf Theiss has been in intensive contact with the responsible health authorities since the information about the law firm partner suffering from the corona virus became available. A series of immediate measures, including a self-initiated test of all Viennese employees, promptly responded and ensured that all contacts with clients, courts, authorities and business partners only take place through negatively tested employees.”
25 January 2020
Mainland China offices have been closed since Chinese New Year with a skeleton staff on rotation. Partners and staff are all working remotely and the firm says there has been minimal business disruption.
The Hong Kong office has been open but many employees have chosen to work from home. The Singapore and Australia offices have been open and operating as usual, but those who want to work from home can.