Baker McKenzie Cuts Atty Pay In The US, Canada

By Xiumei Dong
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Law360 (April 13, 2020, 9:31 PM EDT) -- Even legal giant Baker McKenzie can't escape temporary measures to reduce the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, announcing Monday it is cutting salaries for lawyers and staff in the United States and Canada.

Baker McKenzie joined the ranks of law firms cutting pay because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Getty)

In a statement shared with Law360, Baker McKenzie said it will reduce salaries for attorneys including nonequity partners, other timekeepers and business professionals in the U.S. by 15% and Canada attorneys and staff by 10%. The firm did add that no one earning less than $100,000 will be impacted. The firm also said that "the largest compensation impacts will be felt by equity partners."

"We all will share in some short-term pain, but in the long term, taking these actions now is the most prudent way for us to move through this crisis as a firm, with the smallest impact possible on our people and our clients," Colin Murray, Baker McKenzie's North America chief executive officer, said in the statement.

While the firm cautioned that the length of the reductions ultimately remains uncertain, it said it expects the measures to start May 1 and run through the end of 2020.

Business professionals will not have their base pay adjusted on July 1. Additionally, the bonus pool for business professionals will be adjusted to save money during the pandemic. The firm did not disclose details on how the bonus will be adjusted but said the timing of bonus payments remains the same.

Baker McKenzie said it hopes to give additional payments to top-performing timekeepers and business professionals later in the year as recognition for their hard work in the face of increasing demands on their time.

The firm is also establishing an emergency loan fund to support timekeepers and business professionals facing extreme hardships as a result of the crisis.

Backer McKenzie has 10 offices in the United States and one in Toronto. It also has five offices in Mexico, but local policies and regulations prevent any reductions in the country.

Amid the economic downturn caused by the novel coronavirus, a slew of firms has implemented cost-cutting measures. Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP told Law360 Monday that it is reducing all partner draws by 10%, while salaried attorneys and staff will see their pay cut by 5%.

Several firms, including Goodwin Procter LLP last week, announced layoffs, while others have retained attorneys and staff but reduced salaries and partner draws.

--Additional reporting by Emma Cueto. Editing by Janice Carter Brown.

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that the salary cut includes nonequity partners. 

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

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