COVID-19 continues its devastation — both medical and financial — across the United States. We’ve heard about smaller or regional firms conducting staff layoffs or cutting salaries in response to economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. But the latest impact the coronavirus has had on the legal industry is hitting Biglaw, and hard.
According to multiple sources at the firm, Womble Bond Dickinson announced on Friday afternoon a series of cost-cutting measures. That includes associate layoffs, employee furloughs, and cuts to lawyer compensation for those left at the firm. As a tipster reports:
FYI Womble Bind Dickinson made an announcement this afternoon about layoffs and furloughs to associates and staff. They also announced a 10 percent pay reduction for anyone making over $100k and a lower percentage reduction in the $50k to $100k range and the below $50k range. Announcement was made via conference call. No memo sent out to anyone yet
It’s starting to feel a lot like 2009 up in here.
We reached out to Womble, and they confirmed the measures. According to their statement, the move is mean to “curb the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” and allow the firm to continue serving clients:
In response to the tremendous uncertainty brought on by this virus, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) has reluctantly had to make some adjustments to its business during this difficult time. We made the hard decision to furlough some selected salaried employees for a while and also had to let go another small group. In addition, we are temporarily instituting a 10 percent or less pay reduction (with lower levels of compensation reduced by smaller percentages) for our remaining staff and attorneys in this group. Decisions like these are never easy, but we hope by taking these steps now, we will curb the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to build a strong firm that is positioned to serve our clients well.
There’s a lot of upheaval in Biglaw (and the rest of society) right now. Other Biglaw firms are still struggling with what to do about summer associate programs and others are doubling down on pro bono hours in response to the pandemic. But with no end to the global health crisis in sight, we have to wonder if other Biglaw firms will make similar moves that will leave more lawyers out of work.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).
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