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Sheppard Mullin Walks Back Some Covid-19 Lawyer, Staff Pay Cuts

Aug. 18, 2020, 9:18 PM

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton is partially reversing attorney and staff pay cuts the firm made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firm is cutting in half the 5% to 10% reductions in staff compensation enacted in May, meaning those employees will now see their pay trimmed by 2.5% to 5%. Sheppard Mullin is also reducing associate, staff attorney, and special counsel pay cuts to 6% from 12%.

Some firms have walked back initial cuts made in the early weeks of spring as the coronavirus pandemic. The health care crisis and economic downturn that followed pushed nearly half of the country’s largest 100 firms to adopt austerity measures to make it through the initial impact of crisis.

“The Firm continues to outperform the model we adopted at the outset of the pandemic,” said Sheppard Mullin chairman Guy Halgren in an email to employees. He noted that average hours last month at the firm were at budget and transactional practices that were hit hard when deal work slowed are now seeing progress.

The changes are effective Aug. 31 and are scheduled to remain in place through the end of 2020.

“The Executive Committee will continue to monitor our performance each month, and depending on results and our view of the pandemic’s impact on the future, sooner adjustments may be possible,” Halgren said in the email. He also added that the firm’s partners have “pledged to take the greatest burden on compensation.”

Of the firm’s 51 furloughed staff members, two have returned to work, Halgren’s email stated. The firm is assessing the status of the 49 remaining on furlough, but in the meantime continue to pay for their medical benefits.

Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft announced in late July it would be reversing the 25% and 10% compensation cuts that it made for associates, special counsel, counsel, senior attorneys, staff attorneys and staff effective August 1.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at