Crowell & Moring Joins Rollback Of COVID-19 Pay Cuts

By Mike LaSusa
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Law360 (August 20, 2020, 10:38 PM EDT) -- Crowell & Moring LLP said Thursday that business during the coronavirus pandemic has been better than expected, clearing the way for the Washington, D.C.-based firm to join some of its peers in partially reversing pay cuts that were put in place earlier this year.

Crowell & Moring chair Philip T. Inglima said in a statement that the firm plans to bring back prepandemic pay for associates, counsel and staff starting Sept. 1. The statement did not indicate a similar rollback of cuts to partner pay, which took a hit when the belt-tightening was announced in April.

"We are continuing to ensure that we are well-positioned to provide outstanding service to our clients, to support our people and to meet our anticipated financial and operational needs," Inglima said. "We will continue to be fiscally conservative in the months ahead to ensure that our firm remains in the strongest position possible."

The firm had cut pay for lawyers and some professional staff by 5% to 25% in response to the pandemic, with the highest-ranking positions taking the biggest percentage cut. Equity partners at Crowell & Moring saw a 25% reduction in pay, and most income partners saw a 20% reduction, the firm said at the time the cuts were unveiled.

Crowell & Moring was just one of a slew of BigLaw firms that cut pay this year amid concern about the economic fallout from the pandemic. Now, the firm has joined some of its peers in starting to restore prepandemic pay for certain employees.

K&L Gates LLP confirmed Thursday that most employees will see a 33% improvement in previously imposed reductions after Sept. 1, with equity partners seeing a 25% improvement in the reductions.

"Our firm is well-positioned," K&L Gates LLP global managing partner James Segerdahl wrote in an Aug. 14 email announcing the changes. "As we look ahead, we see a bright future and we have learned much about our resilience and abilities as a firm through a difficult period."

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP confirmed Tuesday that it would reduce all virus-related compensation adjustments by half.

The Los Angeles-based firm introduced its pay-cut plan in April, including a 12% reduction for associates, special counsel and staff attorneys through the end of the year; 5% reductions for staff members earning between $70,000 and $90,000 a year; and 10% reductions for staff earning more than $90,000.

Fox Rothschild LLP followed on Wednesday, saying that compensation adjustments for all affected attorneys and staff will be reinstated by half.

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP said it has also reduced salary cuts by half for all affected attorneys and staff starting Aug. 1.

Baker Botts LLP also confirmed that it will dial back its salary reductions by 50% beginning Sept. 1, while Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP said it will return to prepandemic pay levels starting this month.

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

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