Gateley is the latest firm to furlough fee-earners in response to the Covid-19 crisis, with trainees on the receiving end of the firm’s latest bid to cut costs.

After the listed outfit scrapped its dividend payments last month, the firm has now ramped up precautionary measures and opted not only to furlough its trainees, but also push back their qualification dates.

The decision to furlough junior staff was made on the basis of lower workloads in certain areas of the business, although all trainees will continue to receive full pay for April.

A statement from the firm read: “We haven’t taken any blanket decisions to furlough teams, every decision has been based on workloads available and what is right for the business, our people and our clients. As we all know, the situation resulting from this pandemic changes regularly and the flexibility to be able to look at team workloads as demand either increases or decreases in certain areas is vitally important.”

So far, Brown Rudnick and Walker Morris are among a handful of firms in the UK to have confirmed the furloughing of fee-earners.

This latest development follows the announcement that second-year trainees at Gateley are also set to see qualification dates for their training contracts pushed back until 31 December 2020; months after they were set to finish in August.

This decision has been made in anticipation of a potentially barren job market for newly-qualified lawyers in August, with Gateley saying it is acting in its trainees’ best interest.

The new date in December is scheduled in case of the current crisis advancing into the summer, thus giving Gateley an opportunity to consider what roles will be available at that time: “We don’t believe it is in our trainees’ best interests to qualify at a time when there may not be any NQ roles across the legal profession.

“Our intention is to retain as many trainees as possible and if the legal sector generally pushes forward with NQ roles in September, then we will follow suit where possible.

“This is not about delaying qualification or preventing people from applying for NQ roles outside of Gateley. This is about doing what we can to ensure that they do not qualify at a time when there may not be the NQ roles available in the profession generally.”