2 NY Law Firms Reduce Staff Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Law360 (March 24, 2020, 7:51 PM EDT) -- At least two New York-based law firms have recently cut back on staff, they confirmed to Law360 on Tuesday, as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country and force courts and offices to close.

At Buffalo-based Goldberg Segalla LLP, management has "activated the firm's business continuity plan and made the difficult decision to make a limited reduction to our workforce, largely with respect to those whose responsibilities would be unessential or moot in the current work environment," managing partner Rick Cohen said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

"Our expectation is that many of these team members will return to our firm as soon as possible," he said. "The reality now, however, is that courts are closed across our footprint, we can't access most of our physical offices, and governments as well as business leaders are making necessary decisions that prioritize public health and safety and accept a certain measure of temporary economic difficulty as a result."

He added, "We are doing our part."

The firm was not immediately able to confirm the number of people affected by the decision or their titles.

Meanwhile, Belkin Burden Goldman LLP has also made adjustments to its staff.

"The dramatic impact and effect of COVID-19 together with the closure of all courts and administrative agencies has impacted all firms with a litigation and administrative practice throughout the city and state," the New York City firm said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "As a result, we made some adjustments to support staffing that will allow us to more efficiently function."

The firm underscored that no attorneys have been laid off, saying it's continuing to provide the same legal service and guidance to its real estate clients that is has throughout its 31-year history.

"Once this tumultuous period has passed, we expect to return to our full level of support staffing," the firm said. "We expect that there will be a pent-up level of litigation, negotiation, transactions, leasing and administrative law work once we have returned to some sense of normalcy."

Co-managing partner Jeffrey Goldman said the firm doesn't comment on specific staffing levels or adjustments.

In the United States, more than 540 deaths have been linked to COVID-19 — the label for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — and there are at least 44,180 cases in the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and American territories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest tally Tuesday.

Elsewhere in the legal profession, a growing number of high-profile lawmakers and public policy figures have contracted the highly contagious coronavirus. Cooley LLP partner Robert McDowell has been discharged from a Virginia hospital after falling ill with what doctors believe is the coronavirus.

And U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on Monday said that her husband, University of Baltimore School of Law professor John Bessler, has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been checked into a hospital in Virginia.

--Additional reporting by Kelcee Griffis and Aebra Coe. Editing by Bruce Goldman.

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

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