Troutman Sanders Institutes Voluntary Leave During COVID-19

By Hailey Konnath
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Law360 (May 19, 2020, 9:37 PM EDT) -- Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders LLP says it's implemented a voluntary temporary leave of absence program for its professional staff, joining a growing list of firms that have made cost-cutting moves in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a statement provided to Law360 on Wednesday, participating employees receive weekly stipends and paid health insurance premiums. The program went into effect May 1, and the leaves are expected to last three months. However, Troutman said it will call people back to work earlier if possible.

"We greatly appreciate the continued resilience and commitment of Troutman Sanders staff to the firm and to our clients during these tumultuous times," the firm said.

Troutman is set to merge with Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton LLP, a deal that has been postponed due to the pandemic, according to the firms. Pepper Hamilton has also had to make cuts. Earlier this month, the firm said it was reducing salaries.

Law firm staff members have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic's economic woes. In late April, Chicago-based McDermott Will & Emery LLP laid off and furloughed some of its staff. Earlier that month, Boston-based Goodwin Procter LLP cut loose dozens of its employees.

Dustin Laws, managing director at Major Lindsey & Africa's law firm management practice, told Law360 recently that the primary streams of revenue for a firm are their practitioners. 

"So when a firm thinks of immediate ways to cut costs, unfortunately the professional staff are the first to be placed under the microscope," he said. 

In total, the legal industry nixed about 64,000 jobs in April, a 5.5% decrease from March. The decrease took out years of employment gains in the legal industry, which hit a 10-year high as recently as February, based on the seasonally adjusted numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Also on Tuesday, Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP confirmed that it was laying off approximately a quarter of its workforce. The Philadelphia firm acknowledged the layoffs after filing notice with the state of Pennsylvania under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act that it would be letting go of 76 of its employees effective at the start of June.

--Additional reporting by Matt Fair, Michele Gorman, Xiumei Dong and Kevin Penton. Editing by Breda Lund.

Update: This story has been updated with confirmation from Troutman.

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

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