Davis Wright Tremaine closed its Bellevue, Wash., and Seattle offices following the death of an executive legal assistant who experienced flu-like symptoms.
Managing partner Jeff Gray said in a statement that Lisa Carney, 60, left the office early on Tuesday. She worked remotely on Wednesday and was found deceased on Thursday morning in her home.
The cause of death was unknown as the firm awaited more information from the medical examiner, Gray said.
The firm closed its Bellevue and Seattle offices until further notice, Gray said.
Employees were asked to work remotely, and those in Bellevue were asked to self-quarantine according to guidelines provided by the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the COVID-19, or coronavirus, outbreak.
Gray also noted that a person in the Portland, Ore., building where the firm has an office, but not someone from Davis Wright, tested positive for COVID-19. That office was closed Friday, and employees firm-wide were asked to work remotely, if possible, starting Monday.
“We are mourning the loss of one of our own and will lean on each other to get through this trying time together,” Gray said.
“While it is extremely difficult, we remain focused on protecting each other and maintaining the highest level of client service and continuity of firm operations, even if the evolving circumstances necessitate changing how we do that,” he said.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the spreading virus, which so far totaled more than 1,600 cases and 41 deaths in the U.S., CDC figures showed. More than a quarter of the cases nationally and three quarters of the deaths are centered in Washington State. King County, where Bellevue and Seattle are located, is especially hard hit. Virtually all of the fatalities to date nationally are there.
Davis Wright’s announcement comes after Reed Smith said its employees in the U.S., Europe, and Middle East will work remotely until further notice.
And late Friday, Baker McKenzie announced it would shut its doors in the U.S. and Toronto through at least March. The firm has already dealt with office closures in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
As the coronavirus spreads, many law firms have, for the most part, avoided office closures or implementing mandatory firm-wide work-from-home policies.
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath briefly closed its 22 offices after visitors to its Washington office tested positive for COVID-19. It had since reopened all but its offices in the nation’s capital.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s New York office closed after a partner tested positive for the coronavirus.