Biglaw Firm Closes Offices After Employee Dies, Enacts Work-From-Home Policy

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We have some incredibly sad news from Bellevue, Washington, where an executive legal assistant at Davis Wright Tremaine, has died from unknown causes. According to a statement from Jeff Gray, the firm’s managing partner, Lisa Carney was 60 years old and had been with the firm for more than 16 years. Carney reportedly left the office on Tuesday because she had flu-like symptoms, worked from home on Wednesday, and was found dead in her home on Thursday morning.

Perhaps believing that this was too close to the epicenter of the coronavirus breakout in the area, DWT has rolled out a plan to protect its employees. Here’s an excerpt from Gray’s statement on Carney’s unexpected passing (available in full on the next page):

Since we do not yet know the cause of her death, in the interest of the health and well-being of all our employees, we are closing our Bellevue and Seattle offices until further notice and have asked everyone in those offices to work remotely. In addition, we have asked those in the Bellevue office to self-quarantine according to the CDC’s guidelines during that time.

While carefully navigating the death of an employee that could be related to coronavirus, the firm is also dealing with another office that was possibly exposed:

Yesterday, we were also told of a confirmed case of an individual, not from our firm but in the building where our Portland office is located, who has tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore, we have also decided to close our Portland office and have asked everyone in that office to work remotely today while it is deep cleaned.

Because of all of these unfortunate things happening at once, DWT has decided to offer all its employees work-from-home capabilities:

We are instructing our employees in all our other offices to work remotely if possible, starting Monday, March 16. We are continuing to carefully monitor this situation across the firm and are prepared to implement additional measures to ensure safety.

We here at Above the Law would like to extend our sincere condolence to Lisa Carney’s friends, family, and colleagues, and thank Davis Wright Tremaine for its delicate handling of the situation so that all employees are protected from harm.

(Flip to the next page to read the Davis Wright Tremaine statement in full.)

What is your firm doing to protect lawyers and staff from coronavirus? Please text us (646-820-8477) or email us (subject line: “Coronavirus Response”). Stay safe.

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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