The concerning financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in layoffs, furloughs, and salary adjustments across all avenues of employment, but when it comes to the legal sector, the cuts have been deep. Dozens of firms have tightened their belts to prepare for the loss of cash this will cause them, and legal professionals ranging from staff members to equity partners have been squeezed.
We’ve been tracking exactly how this is playing out, and now we’ve got news on adverse employment action from a midsize firm with offices throughout California, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado that are “open, fully staffed, and providing legal services.” Well, from what we’ve been told, that “fully staffed” part might not be true anymore thanks to firmwide layoffs.
Sources tell us that Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara reportedly conducted a “massive” wave of attorney and staff furloughs and layoffs thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. Here’s what numerous sources have told us:
* Bremer Whyte trimmed half of their staff citing concerns over coronavirus!
* Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara wasted no time in laying off/terminating 25 percent of the firm’s 170 attorneys. The guillotine fell on March 19th. Some entire departments were eliminated. Massive layoff of support staff as well. Morale was low to begin with, but is horrible now.
* Bremer Whyte laid off over 50 of its staff, including 30 attorneys.
We reached out to Bremer Whyte for comment, and a firm spokesperson let us know that these descriptions of what happened were inaccurate. Instead, approximately 15 percent of the firm’s attorneys were either furloughed or let go, while approximately 20 percent of our staff has been temporarily furloughed. No departments were eliminated. Here’s a statement from the firm:
All the employees that were laid off were paid beyond the date of their last day of employment. More than half of the employees that were the subject of this difficult decision continue to receive their benefits through the firm. Each of the equity partners are foregoing compensation during this difficult time. It was a difficult decision the firm made but we are optimistic that we will be in a position to bring many of our valued employees back when this crisis ends.
Best of luck to those affected at Bremer Whyte. We hope you’ll be able to find security and support in the legal industry and beyond during these tough times.
If your firm or organization is slashing salaries, closing its doors, or reducing the ranks of its lawyers or staff, whether through open layoffs, stealth layoffs, or voluntary buyouts, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Our vast network of tipsters is part of what makes Above the Law thrive. You can email us or text us (646-820-8477).
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Staci 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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