Littler Reinstates Pre-Pandemic Pay For Full-Time Attys, Staff

By Dave Simpson
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Law360 (September 17, 2020, 9:30 PM EDT) -- Littler Mendelson PC is rolling back salary reductions for full-time lawyers and staff who are able to work remotely, the labor firm confirmed Thursday, joining a growing list of BigLaw firms to cut back on austerity measures enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Littler told Law360 in April that it was not laying off or furloughing employees but had 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 were unable to work remotely also continued receiving half pay, the firm said.

"We have been closely evaluating our financial modeling since the start of the pandemic and, thanks to the hard work and resilience of our team, the firm's financial performance has been very strong throughout the year to date and is expected to continue for the balance of the year," Tom Bender and Jeremy Roth, co-managing directors of Littler, said in a statement.

In addition to restoring regular pay, the firm said it will be reimbursing for reductions in compensation from the date the reductions were first implemented.

"For the small group of employees who have been unable to work remotely, and whose compensation was previously reduced to 50% of their regular compensation to keep them on payroll, we are working with them to offer options while our offices remain closed and inaccessible due to health concerns and/or government mandates," the firm said.

Littler is the most recent in a group of firms who've rallied and are reinstating compensation following pandemic-related cuts.

Squire Patton Boggs LLP and Duane Morris LLP are rolling back salary reductions for both lawyers and staff, the firms confirmed on Tuesday.

Starting in October, Squire Patton will restore associate salaries to their pre-pandemic levels and reverse base salary cuts for support staff and other nonpartners who are making less than $75,000, while those earning above that level will see their compensation reduction cut in half, the firm said in a statement to Law360.

In addition to restoring the salaries, the firm will reward employees "who performed at extraordinary levels" during the reduced compensation period with a special bonus, and its existing bonus program will also remain in place.

Squire Patton confirmed a series of austerity measures on May 1, including reducing associate pay by 20% and reducing global support staff pay by 10% to 20%, with those in the highest-earning positions taking a larger reduction. The firm also adjusted partner profit distribution at an undisclosed amount and furloughed some staff who "are currently underutilized or are not able to perform their job remotely," it said.

In its statement to Law360 on Tuesday, the firm noted that partners at Squire Patton will continue to "appropriately carry the largest financial burden" through an undisclosed amount of adjusted profit distributions.

Similarly, Duane Morris also confirmed on Tuesday that it has already restored the compensation for nonpartner attorneys and staff to their pre-pandemic amounts at the beginning of the month.

In a statement to Law360, Duane Morris said it eliminated the 15% compensation reductions implemented in May for associates, special counsel and staff making more than $100,000.

Duane Morris had also deferred equity partners' distributions and redacted their year-end compensation by 25% in April, but the firm did not say whether that has changed as of Tuesday.

On Monday, Mayer Brown LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright's U.S. offices confirmed that they will end pay reductions for both lawyers and staff by the end of the month. In addition to restoring base salaries to pre-pandemic levels, Mayer Brown said it will award an additional discretionary bonus this year to high-performing income partners, of counsel and associates.

Last week, Holland & Hart LLP confirmed it had returned all employees' salaries and equity partners' third-quarter profit distributions to their full amounts, and reinstated its employee match to 401(k) contributions this month.

Also last week, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC confirmed it had eliminated all salary reductions at the beginning of September, while Eversheds Sutherland confirmed its U.S. branch is restoring half of the 10% compensation cut it instituted in early May in response to the pandemic.

And Dentons confirmed it would be partially rolling back its pay cuts and offering older business professionals and paralegals in the U.S. who have been with the firm at least 15 years the chance to retire early.

Litigation boutique Hueston Hennigan LLP will join a small, but growing list of law firms handing out bonuses to associates this fall in addition to their usual year-end bonuses, but in a departure from other firms it also plans to extend extra cash to staff, a source at the firm confirmed Thursday.

Following the lead of others like Milbank LLP and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, the firm announced that it will be providing an additional bonus to associates this year in light of the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic that will range from $7,500 to $40,000 based on seniority.

--Editing by Bruce Goldman.

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

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