A state of emergency has been declared in New York due to the rapid outbreak of coronavirus. The legal community has already been touched by the mysterious virus, with one lawyer from a boutique firm having been marked as the second person in the state to be officially diagnosed. That diagnosis led to a student at Cardozo Law going into self-quarantine and New York Law School closing its doors for extensive cleaning due to student contact with that lawyer’s firm.
All the while, Biglaw firms were postponing and canceling events and limiting both foreign and domestic travel due to the illness, but we hadn’t heard of a U.S. case of COVID-19 within the large law firm world — until now.
It’s finally happened. An unnamed partner at one of the most successful Biglaw firms in the world has tested positive for coronavirus.
Which firm could it be? It’s Quinn Emanuel.
Firm leader John Quinn spoke to the New York Law Journal on Sunday, and said that the partner in question listed the names of all attorneys and staff with whom he’d recently interacted. Everyone who has come in contact with the partner thus far has been notified of his illness.
“His symptoms are reportedly very minor, and he actually feels better than he did. We’re hoping and expecting that he’s going to be perfectly fine and that nobody else is going to get infected, and that nobody’s else family is going to be affected,” Quinn said.
“We do know that as soon as he had any issue, he has stayed home, he’s been home since this past week,” Quinn added, though he cautioned, “you can’t rule out the possibility he had the virus before he started to stay home.”
The firm has decided to close its New York offices this week, and sources say they will be thoroughly sanitized before attorneys return to work. Quinn Emanuel is the first Biglaw firm to take such radical action in response to the coronavirus.
In the firm’s statement on Sunday, Quinn Emanuel said New York employees will work from home through the end of the week.
“Our No. 1 concern is for the health and well-being of all staff,” the firm said. “With that in mind, we are taking several steps, including implementing a work-from-home period for the New York office that will run from March 9 through March 13. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep the staff updated.”
“So far we don’t have any indication that anybody else has any symptoms,” Quinn said. “We’re just going to bend over backwards to protect everybody in our firm and anybody who interacted with our firm. We’re trying to act responsibly and take very precaution we can.”
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.
Quinn Emanuel Partner Tests Positive With Coronavirus in NY; Firm To Keep Workers Home [New York Law Journal]
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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