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COVID-19

Ogletree, Greenberg Traurig, Crowell, and others announce cost-cutting measures amid pandemic

Caroline Spiezio  

Caroline Spiezio  

(Reuters) - More law firms on Wednesday announced cost-cutting moves due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart and Greenberg Traurig eliminating their summer associate programs and Crowell & Moring reducing pay for all of its attorneys and some staff, among other firms taking steps to conserve cash.

Atlanta-based Ogletree said the 36 students who would have been summer associates will not be paid. The “current environment, including remote working models, makes it very challenging to offer a high-quality and immersive learning experience,” the firm’s managing shareholder Matt Keen said in a statement on Wednesday.
 
Ogletree has also furloughed some employees who will receive healthcare benefits until May 31, and reduced hours for others, according to Keen’s statement. The firm did not provide additional comment.
 
Ogletree is one of the largest management-side labor and employment law firms, with more than 800 lawyers in 54 offices.
 
Greenberg Traurig said in a statement on Wednesday that it has also called off its traditional summer associate program for 2020 but that students could still work later this summer for hourly pay if its offices re-open.
 
It will provide second-year students who would have been in the summer program offers to join the firm full time after they graduate and pay them a $10,000 advance against their first-year associate starting salary, and first-year students an offer to join the firm next summer and a $5,000 advance in July 2020 against their salary for July 2021, it said.
 
Greenberg has 2,200 lawyers total in 41 locations in North America, Asia and Europe.
 
Also on Wednesday, Philip Inglima, the chair of Washington D.C.-based Crowell, said in an interview that the firm had cut compensation for all attorneys and approximately one-third of its staff.
 
Starting on May 1, equity partners’ pay will be reduced by 25%; most income partners’ by 20%; associates’ and counsels’ by 15%; and staff making more than $100,000 by between 5% and 20% depending on their salary, Inglima said.
 
Inglima said the firm made the compensation cuts to its higher-paid employees to prevent furloughs later on. Crowell has approximately 540 lawyers and 625 staff in seven offices.
 
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, the product of a merger between two large law firms that were based in Minneapolis and Philadelphia earlier this year, on Wednesday said in a statement that it has deferred one-third of equity partner distributions for the second quarter and is reviewing its expenses due to the pandemic.
 
The firm had been one of the first to close all of its U.S. offices last month as the coronavirus rapidly spread across the country. It has more than 1,300 attorneys total in 22 locations in the U.S., U.K. and China.
 
Reed Smith, which last month said it would “slow partner cash distributions,” on Wednesday announced it is making further adjustments due to the pandemic.
 
The firm said it is shortening its summer program to five weeks and may conduct it remotely, in a statement on Wednesday. The firm is also delaying its first-year associate start date until January 2021, but will provide those impacted with health insurance and a stipend in autumn 2020 and pay for their bar exam and study costs, it said.
 
Dozens of law firms, including Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Baker McKenzie and Linklaters have previously announced cost-saving measures due to the pandemic.

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