Norton Rose Confirms Layoffs, Pay Cuts For US Attys

By Hailey Konnath
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Law360 (April 16, 2020, 9:23 PM EDT) -- Norton Rose Fulbright confirmed Thursday that it has slashed pay and laid off a number of attorneys and staff members in the U.S., but was coy about how much of the firm was impacted by the cuts.

In a statement to Law360, U.S. managing partner Jeff Cody said Norton Rose has made "discrete reductions in our U.S. workforce," a cost-cutting measure designed to address the coronavirus pandemic's "unprecedented effect on markets and businesses." A firm spokesperson said it would not be disclosing how many of its more than 1,600 U.S. lawyers and staff were let go.

Per Cody's statement, the London-based firm also implemented a "temporary reduction in compensation," though Cody vowed to work to lessen the impact of the salary cuts if possible.

"The extent of the virus' impact on the legal industry is unclear at this time, but the road ahead appears challenging," he said, adding that the cuts are designed to ensure the firm "emerges healthy and strong."

The U.S. cuts come one day after the firm said it planned to ask some of its employees in other countries to move to a four-day workweek — a decision that mirrors a step the law firm took a decade ago amid the global financial crisis. The firm announced Wednesday that a majority of eligible employees accepted the proposal to implement the "temporary flexible working" program at its offices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, where the firm has more than 2,100 employees. The program, which doesn't apply to staff in the U.S., is set to take effect Monday.

Norton Rose joins a growing list of firms that have laid off or furloughed employees as they brace for economic hardship spurred by the pandemic. On Wednesday, Greenspoon Marder LLP said it had laid off 40 staff members and five lawyers as well as reduced salaries. 

On Monday, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP furloughed 33 of its 823 total staff members in response to the pandemic, noting that those affected can't perform their duties from home.

And last week, a number of BigLaw firms, including DLA Piper, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, Blank Rome LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP, said they would be implementing various cost-cutting measures, such as furloughs, pay cuts and deferments of partner pay distributions, to weather the coming economic downturn.

--Additional reporting by Carolina Bolado, Aebra Coe and Matt Fair. Editing by Breda Lund.

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