In-house Counsel

Some corporate lawyers see pay cuts as coronavirus impacts bottom lines

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The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting corporate earnings and the compensation of top corporate executives—including some general counsels.

Bloomberg Law reports on the phenomenon here and here. According to Bloomberg, these general counsels are among those taking cuts in base pay:

• Marriott general counsel Rena Hozore Reiss, who is taking a 50% pay cut. The company’s CEO, former Latham & Watkins partner Arne Sorenson, won’t be paid any salary for the rest of the year.

• Cheesecake Factory general counsel Scarlett May, whose salary will be cut by 20%.

• Lands’ End general counsel Peter Gray, who will take a 20% cut in pay.

• Walt Disney Co. general counsel Alan Braverman, whose salary is being cut by 30%.

• MGM Resorts International general counsel John McManus, whose salary will be cut from $850,000 to $700,000. Half of McManus’ salary will be paid in stock.

It’s unclear whether the pay cuts will become more widespread among general counsels, according to Lee Udelsman, the in-house counsel recruiting leader at Major, Lindsey & Africa.

In an interview with Bloomberg Law, Udelsman said he thinks the cuts are a temporary occurrence among some segments of the economy trying to cope with the novel coronavirus.

“While certainly no one relishes a pay cut, it sends a message to the rank-and-file that the economic pain associated with this pandemic is being felt equally, especially if a company has a large number of hourly employees who are subject to layoff,” Udelsman told Bloomberg Law.

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