Hueston Hennigan Boosts Pay Amid Virus In Break With Peers

By Mike LaSusa
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Law360 (April 1, 2020, 9:20 PM EDT) -- As a growing list of law firms announce pay cuts and furloughs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern California-based Hueston Hennigan LLP said Wednesday that it will provide virus-related bonuses to help attorneys and staff during a challenging time.

Name partner John Hueston told Law360 the firm is giving $1,000 bonuses to staff and $500 at-home technology bonuses to attorneys working remotely in compliance with public health directives aimed at controlling the spread of the virus. Hueston also said the firm has promised not to lay anyone off and not to cut pay.

"In fact, we've continued our planned hiring for new associates coming in in the summer and fall," he said.

Hueston said that although the firm doesn't expect a change in demand for its services, uncertain times still lie ahead.

"We see a strong possibility of cash flow disruption and other potential issues," he said. "Nonetheless, the partners have decided regardless to commit ourselves to ensuring our employees are protected."

Hueston also said that he hopes other firms and companies follow suit.

"This is one of those periods when employers can really do something that will be remembered by their employees — standing by them instead of looking for the first excuse to cut pay or show people the door," he said.

Law firms around the country have begun seeking to cut back on expenditures to reduce the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC confirmed on Wednesday that it has imposed temporary pay cuts and furloughed employees in response to the impact of the virus.

Pryor Cashman LLP confirmed Tuesday that it has furloughed some associates. That same day, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP's leadership announced that it is pausing partner compensation distributions and reducing associate and senior administrative staff pay by 25% in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Womble Bond Dickinson on Monday said that it had decided to lay off and furlough some employees. Remaining staff and attorneys will see their pay cut by up to 10%, according to the firm, though those with lower levels of compensation will see smaller reductions.

Also on Monday, Reed Smith LLP announced that its leadership will slow partner cash distributions in the near term, while Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin sent a firmwide email saying it is suspending its 4% employer 401(k) match until next year.

--Additional reporting by Xiumei Dong. Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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