3 More Firms Roll Out Virus Cost-Cutting Measures

By Xiumei Dong
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Law360 (May 7, 2020, 3:59 PM EDT) -- BakerHostetler, Locke Lord LLP and Munck Wilson Mandala LLP are the latest to join the ranks of law firms implementing pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, instituting attorney salary reductions ranging from 10% to 20%, according to statements from the firms.

Cleveland-based BakerHostetler announced Thursday that it is cutting partners' annual compensation by 15% to 20% and associate and staff pay by 10% as the firm prepares for the potential fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The adjustments may remain in place through the end of 2020, the firm said, though it promised employees they would not see their base compensation drop below a floor of $70,000 or $80,000, depending on the market.

Administrative assistants and staff will also have the option of working a reduced work schedule as a replacement for the 10% salary cut. BakerHostetler, which listed more than 1,000 attorneys and staff on its website, said it is not laying off any employees.

Dallas-based Locke Lord told Law360 on Thursday that it is cutting equity partners' draws by 10% while implementing a 10% reduction for attorneys and senior staff and a 5% cut for support staff. The firm has also furloughed "a small number" of support staff, it added.

"These are unprecedented and challenging times, and we have been carefully planning for different contingencies that keep the well-being of our personnel and clients at the forefront," the firm said in a statement.

"We are in a strong financial position with no long-term debt, but since the overall impact of the COVID-19 crisis is still unknown, we, similar to most other businesses and law firms, are taking difficult but necessary preemptive actions now to reduce expenses in a variety of areas for the remainder of the year," the firm added.

Locke Lord declined to comment on how many support staff it has furloughed. According to the firm's website, it has a total of 666 attorneys and professional staff in 21 offices.

Another Taxes-based firm, Munck Wilson, also announced in early April that it has taken measures to reduce salaries for partners, associates and exempt directors and managers in order to keep the remaining staff's salaries the same.

Starting on April 1, the firm reduced partners' monthly base pay by 20%, nonpartner attorney salaries by 10% and instituted a 5% cut for all exempt nonattorney directors and managers, it told Law360 in a statement Thursday.

While the firm said it has no plans to reduce attorney head count, some staff were furloughed or had their hours reduced, but all employees will still get their benefits, it said.

The firm's executive committee, along with a number of partners and the chief financial officer, also chose to forgo their 2020 draws entirely during this period. However, the firm added, it plans to pay back the reduced salaries as compensation deferrals by the end of the year at latest.

Munck Wilson's executive committee will revisit these adjustments in three months to account for changing circumstances with the pandemic, the firm said.

The three firms are the latest to join a slew of law firms that have made cost-cutting measures related to the coronavirus pandemic, including layoffs, furloughs and pay reductions.

Three other BigLaw firms — Hogan Lovells, Mayer Brown LLP and Nixon Peabody LLP — on Wednesday also confirmed attorney pay cuts, making associate salary reductions ranging from 10% to 15%.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is cutting pay for associates and counsel in the U.S. by 20% and for staff by up to 15%, the firm confirmed Monday, adding that employees making less than $75,000 a year will not be affected. Meanwhile, Vedder Price PC confirmed Tuesday that it has laid off 4% of its attorneys and professional staff.

--Additional reporting by Aebra Coe. Editing by Alanna Weissman.

Update: This story has been updated with information about cost-cutting measures implemented by BakerHostetler and Munck Wilson.

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

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