More BigLaw firms close or require remote work because of coronavirus threat
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More large law firms are closing offices and requiring work at home amid mounting concerns about the new coronavirus.
Law firms are emphasizing that they can continue to serve clients despite office closings and remote work. Actions taken amid COVID-19 concerns include:
• Baker McKenzie is closing its offices in the United States and Toronto, according to Law.com, Law360 and Bloomberg Law. Lawyers and staff members will work remotely. The firm has already closed offices in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The firm made the announcement on March 13 and work-at-home will continue until at least March 31.
• Reed Smith’s workforce in its U.S., European and Middle East offices began working remotely on March 13. A “team of essential employees” is available in all offices to support clients who require in-person attendance, the law firm said in a statement provided to the ABA Journal. Law.com and Law360 also have coverage.
• The majority of Schiff Hardin lawyers and staff began working remotely on March 16, and will continue to do so until at least March 27, the law firm said in an online statement provided to the ABA Journal. The law firm’s offices will be open for essential business functions.
• Nixon Peabody closed its facilities in the United States and Europe and required work at home beginning on March 16, according to an online announcement.
• Lawyers and staff members at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman began working remotely on March 16, Law.com reports. Offices remain open and are being staffed with a skeleton crew.
• Weil Gotshal & Manges initially announced a plan, to begin March 16, in which lawyers and staff members were to be divided into two groups. Each group would alternate working from home on a weekly basis, Law.com reported. Weil switched gears on March 16, however, and announced that all personnel were encouraged to work from home, beginning on March 17. Weil’s offices are open but are operating with limited staff, the firm said.
• Davis Wright Tremaine closed its Washington offices in Bellevue and Seattle after a Bellevue executive legal assistant was found dead at home on Thursday. The staff member, Lisa Carney, 60, had left work on Tuesday morning after experiencing flu-like symptoms. The firm announced on March 16 that Carney tested negative for COVID-19 and she died from an unrelated health condition. The firm said it was nonetheless asking all attorneys and staff to work remotely across all firm offices.
• Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath announced on March 16 that it is asking all of its employees to work from home until March 31. The firm had previously closed all of its 22 offices on March 10, after two visitors in Washington, D.C., were diagnosed with COVID-19. Nineteen of the offices were reopened on March 11.
• Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan shut down its New York office beginning on March 9 after a partner tested positive for the coronavirus.
Updated on March 16 at 3:30 p.m. to report that the Davis Wright staff member did not die from COVID-19. Updated on March 16 at 5:20 p.m. to report that Faegre Drinker is asking all employees to work from home.