Stoel Rives Walks Back COVID-19 Cuts But Will Remain Wary

By Emma Cueto
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Law360 (August 21, 2020, 10:11 PM EDT) -- Stoel Rives LLP has announced that it will partly roll back the salary reductions it implemented in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although the firm said that it will continue to "operate cautiously."

Starting on Sept. 1, associate and of counsel pay will go from being reduced by 20% to reduced by 10%, and partner distributions will be reduced by 15% instead of 20%, the firm said in a statement Friday.

It will also cut reductions to staff salary in half for those whose pay had been reduced by 10%, 15% or 20%. Those who took a 5% cut will see their full salaries restored, the firm said.

"In March, when the pandemic forced businesses nationwide to change the way they operated, Stoel Rives and many other law firms moved to cut expenses to prepare for great economic uncertainty," managing partner Melissa Jones in a statement. "However, the firm's performance since then has been better than anticipated."

"While this is good news, the firm continues to operate cautiously, as the rest of 2020 remains unpredictable," the statement said.

Stoel Rives, based in Portland, Oregon, unveiled a long list of cost-saving measures in April, including significant salary reductions, furloughing 33 of its 823 staff members and reducing partner draws. It also implemented a hiring and spending freeze, deferred or eliminated many bonuses, and stopped reimbursements for parking and other expenses. 

The salary cuts went into effect on May 1.

The measures were in line with similar steps seen throughout the industry amid the economic upheaval brought on by COVID-19.

Recently, however, some firms have begun to walk back the cost-cutting measures. Since late July, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP, Baker Botts LLP, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Fox Rothschild LLP and K&L Gates LLP have all confirmed that they will be dialing back their salary cuts, typically by about half.

--Additional reporting by Aebra Coe and Kevin Penton. Editing by Michael Watanabe.

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