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Katten to Reinstate Salaries, Eliminate Furloughed Positions (1)

Nov. 2, 2020, 11:08 PMUpdated: Nov. 2, 2020, 11:32 PM

Katten Muchin Rosenman is the latest Big Law firm to reverse salary cuts made earlier in the pandemic, while also planning to eliminate some lawyers and staff that had been furloughed, the Chicago-founded firm said in a statement Monday.

Katten said by Dec. 1 it will have fully restored all lawyer and business professional salaries that had been partially reduced in April. Those employees will receive “catch-up” payments for the earlier reductions, the firm said.

The firm is also eliminating the positions of “a limited number” of attorneys, as well as previously furloughed business professionals. The remaining furloughed employees, whose duties can be performed remotely, will be reinstated by the end of the month, the firm’s statement said.

“Like other businesses, we entered the pandemic uncertain of its impact on our business. Through conservative management and a commitment to our strategy, we find ourselves on solid footing,” the firm’s statement said, noting it was recruiting lawyers in “high-demand” practices.

Katten was the 77th largest firm in the country last year with $670 million in revenue, according to the latest AmLaw data.

Nearly half of the 100 largest law firms in the country made salary cuts, furloughs, or layoffs during the earlier months of the pandemic, Bloomberg Law reported.

The high-end law firm market has proven more resilient than a number of Big Law managing partners expected, and some firms have fared so well that they are giving extra bonuses to their younger lawyers.

A number of other firms have eliminated earlier salary cuts. Still, others have laid off lawyers and staff as the pandemic’s impact has been felt unevenly, leading to concerns that stronger firms may pick off top talent from under-performing firms.

“We do not take lightly the difficult decisions we have made. We will be parting ways with wonderful colleagues whom we will miss,” Katten’s statement said. “To position Katten for continued success, however, we must be vigilant to align our business with the challenges and opportunities presented by the current and future environments.”

(Adds clarification of the distinction between attorneys and business professionals in paragraph three. )

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com