Bloomberg Law
April 13, 2020, 12:27 PM

Wake Up Call: Baker McKenzie’s Pay Cut Announcement Light on Details

Rick Mitchell
Rick Mitchell
Freelance Correspondent

In today’s column, Goodwin Procter announced layoffs, while Mintz and other firms announced temporary pay cuts and other measures to ensure their cash flow doesn’t dry up during the Covid-19 crisis; the Miami Herald says the Florida governor’s top lawyer got Holland & Knight to drop out of the paper’s public information suit linked to Covid-19; Lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to suspend paper-filing mandates during the crisis.

  • Baker McKenzie told lawyers and staff in a conference call last week to expect pay cuts for employees and staff making over $100,000, but that, for now, it doesn’t expect to make economic layoffs, Above the Law reported. The firm was criticized for putting off details about the cuts, in particular how much they will be, until after the Easter holiday. “The rather tactless announcement left everyone reeling over the lack of specifics,” the blog Law quoted an employee at the firm as saying. (

  • Baker McKenzie is just the latest in a lengthening line of big firms announcing cost cuts to protect their financial health during the economic crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic. On Friday, Goodwin Procter announced around 50 layoffs, while Boston-based Mintz Levin announced cuts ranging from 5% for professional staff, to 10% for attorneys, to 5 to 10% cuts for partner draws. (

  • Pepper Hamilton and Troutman Sanders, which already postponed their merger from April 1 to July 1 because of the pandemic, said they’re canceling their summer associate programs, although both firms said they’ll offer jobs to affected law students. (BLAW)

  • As several Big Law firms have either suspended, delayed, or modified their summer programs because of the crisis, Latham & Watkins and Jones Day said they still plan to hold their programs, whether virtually or in-person. (BLAW)

  • Holland & Knight dropped out as the Miami Herald’s counsel in a Covid-19 related public records lawsuit against Florida, after a lawyer for Governor Ron DeSantis pressured the firm, the Herald alleges. The Herald said it had to hire another, unidentified, firm after Holland & Knight told partner Sanford Bohrer to drop the newspaper’s suit, which seeks information from state officials about which elderly-care facilities in Florida had Covid-19 cases. (Miami Herald)

  • A spokeswoman for DeSantis denied his general counsel, Joe Jacquot, pressured Holland & Knight to drop the case. Jacquot only called Holland & Knight partner George Meros, who handles legal matters for the state, to see if a resolution could be found, she said. (Associated Press via NYT) (Florida Politics .com)

  • Brooks Brothers Inc. in about a month has had to pivot from making suits and ties to making personal masks to protect medical pros from Covid-19. The company’s top lawyer Rachel Barnett, a former Skadden associate, said the transition hasn’t been easy. (BLAW)

  • U.S. Supreme Court advocates are asking the court to suspend paper filing requirements, citing health concerns linked to Covid-19. (National Law Journal)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Arnold & Porter has a 70-plus attorney pro bono effort working in five cities with a New York-based nonprofit to advise restaurant workers and owners on how to get coronavirus relief. (American Lawyer)

  • Manhattan commercial litigator and IP attorney Akiva Cohen, a former Big Law attorney, is offering pro bono help on Covid-19 matters even as he fights off a mild case of the virus himself, a report says. (New York Post)

  • A judge has allowed Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer of porn star Stormy Daniels, to be temporarily freed from a New York federal jail and stay at a friend’s house in Los Angeles during the pandemic. (Bloomberg News)

  • Facebook Inc. general counsel Jennifer Newstead earned nearly $19.14 million in total compensation in her first year with the social media giant, according to a 2019 proxy statement filed by the company. (BLAW)

  • The Travelers Cos. Inc. gave almost $24 million in total compensation last year to a pair of former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partners. That’s the most compensation big insurers paid to their top lawyers last year. (BLAW)

  • Punctuation could be the deciding factor in a dispute between Philadelphia-based Blank Rome and Colorado-based mass tort law firm Andrus Wagstaff over nearly $500,000 in fees. (Legal Intelligencer)

  • Cozen O’Connor advised TOTE Services LLC on a contract worth up to $1.5 billion in which Philly Shipyard Inc, will build up to five maritime training vessels, to be delivered to the Maritime Administration. The administration is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. (Transportation Today) (

Laterals, Moves

  • Hunton Andrews Kurth said via email that it hired antitrust attorney Kevin Hahm, former assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Mergers IV Division, as a Washington-based partner in the firm’s competition and consumer protection practice. According to Hahm’s LinkedIn, earlier in his career, he spent over six years at Skadden as an associate.

  • Vinson & Elkins added longtime in-house leader and former federal prosecutor Michael Ward to its San Francisco office as a partner in its white collar and government investigations practice. (BLAW)

  • Baker McKenzie recruited Palo Alto-based trade secrets litigator Bradford Newman away from Paul Hastings, as a partner and chair of its North American trade secrets practice. (

  • Latham & Watkins litigation partner Doug Greenburg is taking over as global chair of the firm’s white-collar defense and investigations practice. He replaces Kathryn Ruemmler who left to join Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (American Lawyer)

  • Fried Frank hired Norton Rose Fulbright’s global chief financial officer Victor Nuñez as its chief operating officer, based in New York. (Twitter)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom P. Taylor in Washington at