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Shearman offers voluntary leave, Baker Botts and Akerman cut pay amid coronavirus crisis

Caroline Spiezio  

Caroline Spiezio  

Shearman & Sterling, Baker Botts and Akerman are among the latest law firms to announce measures to cut costs, such as offering employees voluntary leaves or cutting pay, in an attempt to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shearman has offered all of its employees the chance to take voluntary leave for three to six months at 30% of their usual pay, or 40% of pay if they use the time to perform pro bono work, the New York-based law firm said on Monday.
Shearman, which has more than 850 lawyers in 24 offices, according to its website, also said it has shortened its summer associate program, pushing back its start date until at least late June, though students will still be paid for all the weeks they had originally planned to work.
Houston-based Baker Botts said that from May 1 to July 31, it will reduce salaries for counsel by 20% to 30%, for associates by 20% and for staff by 0% to 25% based on salary level, with no one earning less than $70,000 annually taking cuts, according to an internal firm memo reviewed by Reuters on Monday.
Partners “have agreed to compensation reductions to absorb the bulk of the financial impact expected from the pandemic,” the memo stated.
The firm, which has approximately 750 lawyers according to its website, has also delayed the start for its incoming associate class from Fall 2020 until 2021, according to the memo.
Also on Monday, Miami-based Akerman said in a statement that most “partners, of counsel, and consultants will receive a 12.5% reduction in their draw on an annualized basis” and that associates and staff with salaries of $150,000 or more “will receive a 7.5% reduction in compensation on an annualized basis.” Staff earning less than that amount will take a 5% cut, the firm said. The firm has more than 700 lawyers, according to its website.
Goodwin Procter on Monday said it had shortened its summer associate program from ten weeks to five, to begin on July 6, and that will hold the program virtually. The firm, which was founded in Boston, has more than 1,200 lawyers, according to its website.
More than fifty law firms have since mid-March announced pay cuts and other changes to compensation, layoffs, shortened summer programs or other measures to reduce expenses as the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered courts and businesses across the United States, drying up deal and litigation work.

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