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Venable, Clark Hill and Downey Brand, latest firms to cut pay over pandemic

Caroline Spiezio  

Caroline Spiezio  

More law firms are cutting pay to conserve cash as the coronavirus crisis hits revenue, with Venable, Clark Hill and Downey Brand announcing such measures on Friday.

Venable, which has more than 850 lawyers and advisors, is cutting pay on a sliding scale, with those who are earning the highest salaries facing the biggest cuts, and with equity partners taking similar reductions, it confirmed on Friday.
”Because the extent and duration of the disruption and its impact remains uncertain, we have taken steps to tailor staffing needs to the current environment and prudently prepare the firm for the future,” the firm said in a statement on Friday.
All employees with salaries above $400,000 will take a 20% pay cut on all compensation plus 10% on compensation above $400,000, the firm confirmed on Friday. The cuts will be 20% for salaries between $400,000 and $190,000; 15% for salaries between $189,999 and $120,000; 10% for salaries between $119,999 to $75,000; and 5% for salaries between $74,999 and $60,000, the firm confirmed.
Venable is also furloughing some support staff but it will continue to pay for their medical and dental benefits, it confirmed.
Legal industry blog Above the Law first reported the news on Friday.
Venable’s chairman Stuart Ingis was not immediately available for additional comment on Friday.
Clark Hill, which has more than 650 attorneys, is reducing pay for all attorneys and staff, freezing all discretionary spending and revising certain benefits, and, in what it hopes “will be a temporary measure,” furloughing some employees, it said in a statement on Friday.
The Detroit-based firm declined to comment further. Its chief executive officer John Hern did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Partners are reducing draws at Sacramento-based Downey Brand, its managing partner Scott Shapiro said in an interview with Reuters on Friday, though the exact size of that reduction won’t be clear until the end of the year.
The firm is cutting salaries for its other attorneys and salaried staff by 20% for a four-month period ending July 31, Shapiro said. Hourly staff will transition from working five days a week to four, which Shapiro said would make them eligible for more aid from the California’s Employment Development Department than if their wages had been reduced.
Downey Brand has 165 employees, including 93 attorneys, Shapiro said. He said the firm has seen a drop-off in client payments due to the pandemic and that the pay cuts were implemented to prevent layoffs.
Arent Fox, Loeb & Loeb, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Allen & Overy earlier this week announced pay cuts due to the pandemic. Reed Smith said it is temporarily slowing partner cash distributions.
Baker Donelson has cut shareholder pay and on Wednesday said it would furlough some employees and temporarily reduce the salaries of others, including attorneys.
Pryor Cashman has furloughed some associates, and Womble Bond Dickinson, Goldberg Segalla and Scahill Law Group, a midsized firm based on Long Island, have all furloughed staff.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include new information, that Venable has furloughed staff and cut pay.

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