Solicitors’ firms and legal bodies are continuing to furlough staff and freeze salaries in response to the pandemic, as concerns about the economic impact of coronavirus grow.
International firm Clyde & Co has furloughed a number of employees, predominantly in business support functions, and has deferred its next round of partner profit distributions. The firm is also postponing salary reviews, promotions, and some recruitment until later in the year, and has set up a hardship fund for those facing unique financial pressure.
Dentons has furloughed around 65 secretaries and just under 50 employees in business services until 31 May to prepare for an ‘unprecedented contraction of global GDP over the coming months’. Their salaries are being topped up to 100%. Meanwhile, partner distributions have been deferred as a ‘pre-emptive measure’.
Lawyers and professional staff at Reed Smith have the option to elect an unpaid leave of absence for up to three months, retaining entitlement to all health care and life insurance coverage provided by the firm.
On the other side of the legal profession, the Bar Standards Board has frozen salaries and non-essential recruitment and the Bar Council has taken measures to reduce its costs. The Gazette understands it is considering furloughing staff.
Last week, the City of London Law Society defended large firms taking advantage of the government’s job retention scheme by furloughing staff, stressing their high fixed costs and reliance on equity partners. Some commentators have argued the scheme is not aimed at City law firms and partners should bear the brunt of the crisis.
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.