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Baker McKenzie Closes U.S., Toronto Offices In Response to Virus

March 13, 2020, 10:49 PM

Baker McKenzie is closing its U.S. and Toronto offices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global firm said Friday, joining a number of Big Law firms who are requiring employees to work remotely.

Baker McKenzie’s employees will work remotely until at least March 31, but the firm said they are “braced for longer.” The closures were not a response to any reported virus exposure or infection, the firm said.

The firm is one of the world’s largest, with 77 offices across more than 45 countries housing more than 12,000 employees. The firm said its operations would continue “uninterrupted.”

“These are trying times for all of us, but I am certain we will rise to face this challenge,” Colin Murray, Baker’s North America chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We will stay positive, calm and most importantly, we will take care of each other, our families and our clients— that’s the Baker way.”

The firm will close offices in cities including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Washington, and Toronto. The firm has already dealt with office closures in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Baker McKenzie is not the first firm to announce closures in the U.S. and beyond in response to the coronavirus, which was officially deemed a national emergency by President Trump on Friday afternoon.

Davis Wright Tremaine on Friday said it closed its offices in Bellevue, Wash. and Seattle after a firm legal assistant died. She was based in the Bellevue office and showed flu-like symptoms before her death.

Reed Smith announced on Friday its employees in the U.S., Europe, and Middle East would work remotely.

Faegre Drinker briefly closed its 22 offices after visitors to its Washington office tested positive for the virus. It has since reopened all but its offices in the nation’s capital. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s New York office closed after a partner there contracted the virus.

The broader legal industry has adapted to the virus in a number of ways. The nation’s top 14 law schools have all moved to virtual instruction to protect students and staff.

Manhattan’s federal courthouse has postponed jury trials for a week. Litigation funder Burford Capital closed its New York office and delayed releasing its annual financial results.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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