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Merging firms Troutman and Pepper Hamilton delay incoming associate start

Caroline Spiezio  

Caroline Spiezio  

(Reuters) - Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton, two of the largest U.S. law firms, which plan to merge July 1, on Friday both announced they are postponing the start date for their incoming associate class until January 2021.

Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton said in its statement Friday that the deferred start date will provide the class a “better work and training experience.” It said it will provide the incoming class financial assistance to defray living expenses and costs associated with the bar exam they will take in autumn and allow them to enroll in the firm’s health insurance plan.
 
Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders said in its Friday statement that along with its start date delay it will also on June 1 cut pay firmwide. Reductions “will range from 2% to a projected 18.5%, depending on how many months the reductions last,” the firm said. It previously said some staff would take voluntary leaves of absence and that it would suspend its summer associate program.
 
More than 50 law firms have taken steps to cut costs, such as pay reductions or layoffs, since mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic sparked businesses and court closures nationwide, drying up deal and litigation work.
 
Pepper Hamilton announced pay cuts of its own earlier this month.
 
The pandemic has also led states including New York and California to delay their July bar exam until September. More than five large firms, including Mayer Brown and Hogan Lovells, have since March said their incoming first year associates will start in 2021 instead of in autumn.
 
On Friday both Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton said they still plan to merge on July 1. They had set the merger date for April 1 but postponed it due to the coronavirus pandemic.
 
The combined law firm, to be called Troutman Pepper, would have approximately 1,100 attorneys and more than $900 million in estimated annual revenue, Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton said when they announced the tie-up in January. It would have 23 offices in the U.S.
 
Pepper Hamilton has more than 425 lawyers and 14 offices, according to its website. Troutman Sanders’ website lists more than 800 professionals and 12 offices.

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