Biglaw Firms Tell Associates To Work From Home To Protect Them From Coronavirus

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As the number of people infected with the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, rises (more than 31,000) and the death toll continues to clinb (638 thus far), law firms in the region have created emergency contingency plans to prevent their partners, associates, and staff members from contracting the virus.

Dentons is the only global Biglaw firm with an office in the quarantined city of Wuhan (through its regional operating offices of Dacheng), and sources say that office is closed. International has details:

“Our China region leaders are continuing to closely consult with public health and government authorities, and to follow the required action steps and best practices as directed by these officials,” Elliot Portnoy, global CEO of Dentons, said in a statement to Legal Week.

“Our focus continues to be on protecting the health and safety of all our people and their families while continuing to meet our obligations to clients during this global public health emergency.”

Other international Biglaw firms with offices in the region are taking similar precautionary steps to protect their associates and staff members.

  • Reed Smith advised employees to “avoid all travel to mainland China”, and is helping people leave the country on an “as needed” basis. The firm is “closely monitoring the situation and guidance issued by authorities and health organizations.”
  • Orrick told all personnel on its Greater China team to work remotely, barring travel without prior approval “to and from and within China” until further notice. Firmwide, any employees who returned from China in the past 14 days have been asked to work from home.
  • Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW), a UK-based firm, temporarily closed its Shanghai office and restricted travel within the region, such that travel to and from Hong Kong and Singapore must be cleared with the managing partners of those offices. All of the firm’s China employees have been instructed to work from home.
  • Linklaters told all employees in its Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong offices to work remotely. Further, the firm has requested that anyone who recently traveled to mainland China for any reason work from home for 14 days.

What is your firm doing to make sure employees are protected from contracting coronavirus? Please contact us via email to let us know. Thanks.

Dentons Vacates Wuhan Office as Law Firms Restrict Travel to Mainland China [ International]

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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