Law Firms

Which law firms laid off lawyers and cut pay this past week? The announcements slow to a trickle

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For weeks, larger law firms have been announcing layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts. The impact is widespread, with the legal services sector losing 64,000 jobs in April.

This week was better. Only a couple firms have announced cost-saving measures since the ABA Journal published a story last Thursday on firms taking such steps. And one of the firms offered voluntary leave rather than more drastic steps.

The firms are:

• Dorsey & Whitney, which said it has laid off a “limited number” of lawyers and staff members. The firm has also cut pay by 10% to 20% for nonpartner lawyers and staff members who make more than $150,000 per year. The law firm previously announced that it was furloughing less than 4% of its staff members and reducing contributions to retirement plans by one-third. (, Law360)

• Troutman Sanders, which instituted a voluntary leave of absence program for professional staff. Volunteers will receive a weekly stipend plus paid health insurance premiums. The program is expected to last three months, but the firm will call people back earlier if circumstances allow it. (Above the Law, Law360)

• Tipsters were reporting to Above the Law that another law firm, Goodwin Procter, was conducting “stealth” associate layoffs. The firm didn’t confirm the report. Instead, it issued only a general statement that said it completed its annual midyear review of associates in early April, but it could not comment further on the performance management process.

While fewer legal jobs were affected by COVID-19 this week, one legal consultant is suggesting that there could be a different impact—on retirement decisions.

Altman Weil principal James Wilber, age 70, wrote on the legal consulting firm’s website that the pandemic could have baby boomer lawyers thinking about retirement. He cited his own experience.

Until the past few weeks, Wilber said, he planned to keep working full time—as long as he found his work challenging and rewarding. But now he is having second thoughts about having to return to work if in-person attendance is required.

“Like me, other senior lawyers, who just a few months ago might have planned to continue to work well into the future, likely are recalculating their retirement horizons because these new risks, that none of us foresaw, now outweigh personal desires to remain fully employed in in-person environments,” he wrote on the Altman Weil website.

“If that happens, there will be a quantitative easing of the age-and-position succession pipeline,” Wilber said.

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