As another hour goes by, another Biglaw firm announces that it’s taking cost-cutting measures to alleviate the pressures that have been foisted upon it by the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. From layoffs to furloughs to salary cuts, we’ve seen it all as COVID-19 continues its devastation of the legal profession.
Sources say the latest firm to announce salary cuts is Arent Fox, which has reportedly reduced salaries for counsel by 30 percent and associates by 25 percent. These are the largest pay cuts we’ve seen yet. This information was given to employees by phone, so no memo exists. We’re told that equity partners will be taking reduced distributions, but percentages were not disclosed. One unhappy associate noted that while the calls about the salary cuts stressed the importance of everyone at the firm being in this together, “associates and counsel seem to be a little more in this than others.”
UPDATE (6:45 p.m.): Other sources at Arent Fox contacted Above the Law with the following details: equity partner distributions were reduced by 60 percent this month, and nonequity partners will be taking the same 30 percent reduction in pay as counsel. In addition, staff will receive the same 25 percent pay cut as associates. Arent Fox partners are, in fact, taking a big hit — and so are staff members.
We reached out to Arent Fox for confirmation of the salary cuts, and a spokesperson said these measures were taken in order to put the firm in a “strong position”:
As a result of the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, Arent Fox has made temporary adjustments to its business operations. We recognize the biggest mistake we can make is to underestimate the scope of this pandemic. In response to the economic slowdown, the firm is instituting a temporary pay cut for all attorneys, professionals, and staff.
The range of legal issues, regulatory challenges, and policy changes unfolding during this crisis are historic. Our goal is to put Arent Fox in a strong position so that we can continue to provide critical, first-rate service to our clients as we help them navigate these challenges.
We hope this means the firm is able to avoid layoffs or furloughs if this pandemic goes on for longer than expected.
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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