Practices were continuing to furlough staff and freeze salaries in response to the pandemic as the Gazette went to press – and City firms which had planned office moves are bracing themselves for delays.
Clifford Chance has joined the other magic circle firms in deferring partner profit distributions and postponing salary reviews until the end of the year, while some bonus payments have been delayed until November.
Meanwhile, Travers Smith LLP has reduced monthly drawings for all partners with immediate effect and has deferred partner profit distributions. A ‘small number’ of employees, principally those performing front of house, post room and hospitality roles, have been furloughed, but lawyers continue to work full-time.
Several City firms are taking advantage of the government’s job retention scheme, with Dentons furloughing over 100 secretaries and business services staff, and Clyde & Co furloughing employees in business support functions. Clyde is also postponing salary reviews, promotions, and some recruitment.
Unpaid leaves of absence are also being encouraged, with lawyers at Reed Smith able to take up to three months off work, while retaining entitlement to health care and life insurance coverage. Gowling WLG has taken a similar approach, having reduced working hours and pay from May to October.
It has been reported that planned office moves have also been disrupted by the coronavirus, as firms try to conserve cash and construction projects grind to a halt. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is due to move into City skyscraper 100 Bishopsgate this summer.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is also due to move this year from its London Bridge office to Governors House, near Cannon Street. Meanwhile, in February, Linklaters signed a lease for 20 Ropemaker Street, a 27-storey stone building in Moorgate which is currently under construction.