Faegre Drinker Reopens Most Offices After Coronavirus Scare

By Michele Gorman
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Law360 (March 11, 2020, 5:10 PM EDT) -- Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP resumed normal operations Wednesday in nearly every office except its two outposts in Washington, D.C., a day after requesting that all employees work remotely because of a COVID-19 scare.

The law firm had made its decision to close its offices after learning that someone who had been present in one of its D.C. locations later tested positive for the coronavirus.

The firm said it will keep its D.C. offices closed and continue to evaluate the status each day.

"We are not aware of any Faegre Drinker personnel who have tested positive for [the] coronavirus — this is simply a precautionary measure while we evaluate the appropriate path forward," Faegre Drinker said in a statement on Wednesday.

The firm on Tuesday had asked all of its employees to work remotely after learning that a person who visited one of its D.C. offices earlier this month had since tested positive for the coronavirus. After they made the decision to close their offices, the firm discovered that another person who had been to a D.C. outpost this month was subsequently diagnosed with the disease, the firm said.

"Because the scope of each guest's contact with firm colleagues was not readily known, and because our attorneys, consultants and professionals have been traveling cross-office to support firm integration efforts, we chose to exercise caution while our leadership team evaluated the situation," the firm said in its statement.

Faegre Drinker is among a list of firms that have taken action amid the outbreak. Baker McKenzie temporarily closed its London office on Feb. 28, while Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP and others have restricted travel.

Meanwhile in New York, a faculty member at the New York University School of Law has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesperson for the school confirmed on Wednesday.

The law school's Dean Trevor Morrison sent an email to the NYU Law community on Tuesday to say the individual was in contact with a very limited number of people while on campus, and that those people have been notified, according to the spokesperson.

Other schools in the area have taken precautions as the threat escalates. Earlier this week, Columbia Law School, Fordham University School of Law and Hofstra University's Maurice A. Deane School of Law were among those to suspend classes.

Legal gatherings have also been affected. On Wednesday, the Legal Marketing Association announced that its annual conference set for later this month in Denver has been postponed.

"Ultimately, protecting you — our sponsors and exhibitors — as well as our attendees, speakers and staff is our top priority," LMA President Jill Huse said in a statement.

In the U.S., 29 deaths have been linked to COVID-19, and there are more than 930 cases in 38 states and D.C., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest tally on Wednesday.

Over the weekend, the number of reported cases exceeded 100,000 in 100 countries, according to the World Health Organization, which declared the outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday.

--Editing by Nicole Bleier.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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