Littler, Davis Wright Join Wave Of COVID-19 Belt-Tightening

By Emma Cueto
Law360 is providing free access to its coronavirus coverage to make sure all members of the legal community have accurate information in this time of uncertainty and change. Use the form below to sign up for any of our weekly newsletters. Signing up for any of our section newsletters will opt you in to the weekly Coronavirus briefing.

Sign up for our Legal Industry newsletter

You must correct or enter the following before you can sign up:

Select more newsletters to receive for free [+] Show less [-]

Thank You!

Law360 (April 28, 2020, 8:06 PM EDT) -- Littler Mendelson PC and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP are among the latest firms making cuts to pay for both attorneys and staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic, both firms confirmed Tuesday.

A stature of lawyer and former U.S. Secretary of State William Seward is outfitted with a mask in Juneau, Alaska. Littler Mendelson PC and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP have joined the ranks of law firms cutting pay because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP)

Littler told Law360 that it is not laying off or furloughing employees but has decided to cut pay for people at all levels of compensation, running from 4% for those earning less than $50,000 a year to 20% for equity partners and corporate management. Those who are unable to work remotely will also continue receiving half pay, the firm said.

The firm's co-directors Tom Bender and Jeremy Roth told Law360 in a statement that the decision was "difficult" but necessary to "maintain our financial strength" and prepare for the potential turmoil of the next few months.

"This decision was not made lightly and was based on weeks of in-depth analysis and financial modeling to assess the potential impact of COVID-19 on our business and the best path forward," the statement said. "We arrived at an approach that shares the burden across the firm at all levels. We are deeply grateful to our Littler team for their understanding and patience during this extraordinarily difficult time."

Davis Wright said it will also be cutting pay, though it said the cuts will not affect anyone making less than $60,000 a year. It has also decided to furlough 8% of staff, while maintaining coverage for medical, dental and vision benefits, the firm said.

"We've delayed actions that affect jobs and paychecks for as long as we could," Davis Wright managing partner Jeff Gray said in a statement. "But, like many of our peers, we now must take additional steps to protect the firm, while continuing to provide the highest level of client service and ensure we emerge in the strongest possible position."

Quarterly equity partner distributions will be cut, with the expectation that distributions will be 25% below the projected amount, the firm said. It will also reduce contract partner and top executives' pay by 15% and associate pay by 12%, the firm said.

Staff pay will also be reduced by 6% to 10% for those making more than $60,000, depending on salary. Some staff will also be placed on reduced workload.

The firm added that it has also created a program funded by firm partners to help staff experiencing financial hardship and put together a vacation bank to which employees can donate vacation time.

"Our approach addresses business necessity in a manner consistent with our core values," Gray's statement added. "We're sharing the sacrifice across the firm and protecting jobs as best we can. ... If we end the year better than we currently expect, which we are working very hard to do, we will share that financial success across all levels of the firm."

Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP will also be cutting pay for all attorneys by 20%, according to a Tuesday report from Above the Law.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up in the United States in March, firms have been taking a variety of steps to reduce costs, including by cutting pay. This week, Baker Botts LLP and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP also announced similar cuts.

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

For a reprint of this article, please contact

Hello! I'm Law360's automated support bot.

How can I help you today?

For example, you can type:
  • I forgot my password
  • I took a free trial but didn't get a verification email
  • How do I sign up for a newsletter?
Ask a question!