Kilpatrick Calls Cut In Pay A Proactive COVID-19 Move 

By Emma Cueto
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Law360 (April 13, 2020, 4:46 PM EDT) -- Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP is reducing pay for attorneys and staff, saying that despite a strong first quarter, it is taking a proactive approach to the economic downturn expected as a result of COVID-19.

Starting on April 7, all partner draws were reduced by an average of 10%, the firm told Law360. Salaried attorneys and staff will see their pay cut by 5% on April 16, and secretaries, who are hourly workers, will see their hours cut by 20%, but with no reduction to their hourly wage, the firm said.

“We are a fiscally conservative firm that is well-positioned to work our way through this challenging time,” Kilpatrick said in a statement. “We had a very strong first quarter and were running at full speed before the pandemic. … Our goal is to find the best way to build a bridge over the anticipated economic downturn and come out strong on the other side.”

The Atlanta-based firm, which has over 600 attorneys across the U.S., added that although it is taking steps to cut nonpersonnel expenses and has temporarily furloughed workers who are unable to do their jobs remotely, it is not currently planning any layoffs.  

 It also has started a hardship fund for affected employees and offered to let employees for whom working full-time from home is challenging voluntarily reduce their hours, according to a spokesperson.

All of Kilpatrick’s 21 offices have been working remotely since mid-March, according to the firm.

Although the legal industry saw a banner year in 2019, with industry job numbers finally coming within striking distance of the levels seen before the 2008 economic crash and industry observers expecting to see further growth, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic hardship has firms once again bracing for hard times.

Several firms, including Goodwin Procter LLP last week, have announced layoffs, while others have retained attorneys and staff but reduced salaries and partner draws.

Firms have also been making decisions about their 2020 summer associates, with some firms opting not to host the program this year and others planning to go forward with the associates working remotely.

--Additional reporting by Aebra Coe, Natalie Rodriguez and Michele Gorman. Editing by John Campbell.

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