Bryan Cave Lays Off Attorneys And Staff, Eases Pay Cuts

By Aebra Coe
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Law360 (July 15, 2020, 11:30 AM EDT) -- Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is laying off a "very small proportion" of its workforce, including both attorneys and staff, in response to economic uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, while at the same time reducing previously announced pay cuts from 15% to 7.5%, the firm said Wednesday.

A statue of lawyer and former U.S. Secretary of State William Seward is outfitted with a mask in Juneau, Alaska. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is the latest firm to lay off part of its workforce in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

The firm said in a statement that it will conduct "targeted reductions" in its workforce, aimed at aligning client needs with talent and resources. The reductions will include the elimination of the firm's Beijing office, and a "tightening" of the firm's footprint in Asia, the statement said.

The layoffs will impact "a very small proportion" of the firm's global workforce, it said. The firm declined to provide more details on the number of layoffs Wednesday.

"While a difficult decision to make, we believe the limited adjustments to our workforce are in the best interest of our clients, our business, and our people for the long term," firm co-chairs Lisa Mayhew and Steve Baumer said in a shared statement.

In May, the law firm implemented 15% salary reductions for all employees earning more than $40,000 across all offices, and according to the announcement Wednesday, those reductions will be adjusted to 7.5% through the rest of the year.

"After exceeding performance expectations during the first half of this extraordinary year, we're pleased to begin rolling back salary reductions necessitated during the worst of the pandemic conditions. Looking ahead, we plan to continue taking proactive steps to provide as much clarity as we can to all our colleagues and to ensure our firm is best positioned moving forward," Mayhew and Baumer said in the statement.

Earlier this month, news broke that another law firm, Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone PLC, had instituted layoffs and furloughs of attorneys and other employees amid the pandemic.

CEO Michael McGee said the firm either furloughed or laid off an unspecified number of employees in June, Above the Law reported.

The furloughs included two attorneys, one of whom was an associate, while the "separations" impacted an attorney who was a "principal," three associates and three other "non-principals," according to McGee, who pointed to a slowdown in the automobile sector as forcing the firm's hand.

The layoffs come several months after a number of firms made similar announcements this spring soon after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

Reed Smith LLP, Vedder Price LLP, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Goodwin Procter LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright and Nixon Peabody LLP were among the firms that confirmed during the spring that they had made personnel cuts.

--Editing by Marygrace Murphy.

Correction: A previous version of this story did not properly identify the new pay cut figure. The error has been corrected.

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

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