Reed Smith will have employees in its U.S., Europe, and Middle East offices working remotely until further notice to limit coronavirus spread, a firm representative said in a statement.
Reed Smith is one of the largest law firms in the world with more than 1,500 lawyers and 30 offices. The firm said its offices will remain open to a team of “essential employees” who will remain at offices to help with “key business needs,” including supporting clients that need in-person assistance.
“With the uncertainty and the rapidly evolving situation around the COVID-19 outbreak, Reed Smith has decided to take additional preventative steps to protect our people, our clients and the firm’s business continuity,” the statement said.
One concern for law firms has been whether their IT systems are built to handle a large increase in remote workers. Reed Smith said its “well-tested and robust” remote capabilities would continue to deliver client service.
As the novel coronavirus has spread into a global pandemic, major law firms have so far avoided preemptive measures like closing offices or requiring employees to work remotely.
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath 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 spread in a number of ways. The nation’s top 14 law schools have all moved to virtual instruction to protect students and staff.
Here is Reed Smith’s full statement:
With the uncertainty and the rapidly evolving situation around the COVID-19 outbreak, Reed Smith has decided to take additional preventative steps to protect our people, our clients and the firm’s business continuity.
While all our offices remain open for business, beginning Friday, March 13, all of our workforce across all the firm’s US, European and Middle East offices will work remotely until further notice. In all of our offices, a team of essential employees will be available to assist with key business needs, including the support of clients that require in-person attendance. Our goal is to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The firm’s well-tested and robust remote working capabilities are such that we can continue to deliver client service as we accommodate this necessity. Many of our people are always working remotely, and our system is already built for this.
We will regularly evaluate our position based on the best available health information. We are keeping our workforce informed of developments, and we will of course keep our clients informed as well. We remain, as always, fully committed to serving our clients at the highest levels and we will ensure they continue to receive the quality services for which the firm is renowned.