Wake Up Call: Dorsey Makes Layoffs, Pay Cuts in Round 2 of Covid Austerity

May 21, 2020, 12:51 PM

In today’s column, Chief Justice John Roberts only interrupted liberal justices in this month’s historic telephonic arguments, mainly the women, a study says; Dentons said most of its U.K. and Middle East employees have agreed to a flex-work plan that will cut their pay 20%; a recently laid off corporate counsel has some advice for his fellow jobless in-house lawyers: work on your social media presence; four Big Law firms have been hit by online scam attempts during the Covid-19 lockdown, a report says.

  • Leading off, 500-lawyer firm Dorsey & Whitney said it will be laying off a “limited number” of staff and attorneys across its national and international offices starting June 1. The Minneapolis-based firm is also cutting pay 10% to 20% for staff and attorneys making over $150,000, and it’s shortening its summer associate program and making it virtual. It’s delaying the start of its 2020 first-year associate class to January 2021. In April, in its first round of cost cuts to protect its cash flow from Covid-19, the firm furloughed some employees unable to work remotely, limited equity partner draws, and cut retirement benefits. (TCBmag.com) (American Lawyer) (AbovetheLaw)

  • Dentons said most of its U.K. and Middle East employees signed up to its four-day week flexible work scheme, which means a 20% pay cut starting June 1. Partners still work full weeks but their profit distributions are deferred and their drawings reduced by 20%, reports say. (Law.com International) (The Lawyer)

  • As Covid-19 increasingly forces Big Law firms to cut their partners’ profit draws to hold on to more cash, some partners are starting to pay more attention to so-called virtual firms, especially their pay arrangements. (BLAW)

  • Newly unemployed corporate counsel for Salary.com, Colin Levy, says he’s finding there aren’t many jobs out there. Among other things, he advises job seekers to polish up their social media presence, although he hasn’t found a job through social media himself, yet. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Bankrupt U.K. law firm McMillan Williams Solicitors got absorbed by another firm that now has 32 offices. The collapse is likely to be first of many caused by the Covid-19 crisis, observers said. (Law.com International) (GlobalLegalPost.com)

  • The Yale Law Women’s latest annual report on gender equality in Big Law starts with a note on the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and caregivers. As firms deal with Covid-19’s economic and staffing impacts they should strive to make “equitable” decisions on healthcare, layoffs, and other things that affect their people, it urges. (BLAW)

  • New York’s Unified Court System is restoring the filing of new nonessential lawsuits for New York City and downstate counties starting Monday, its chief administrative judge said. (New York Law Journal)

  • Since March, San Francisco-based Reed Smith partner Jesse Miller has been serving as deputy commander of a joint task force in charge of the California National Guard’s civil support response to the Covid-19 pandemic. (The Recorder)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • During this month’s historic telephonic arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. only interrupted or cut off questioning by the court’s liberal justices, mainly the two women on the court, a new study shows. (National Law Journal)

  • The Financial Times recently asked six lawyers from around the world how they’re handling remote work and family during the crisis. (Financial Times)

  • In two huge class actions, Selendy & Gay is going up against Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the litigation firm that Philippe Selendy and Faith Gay, with eight other lawyers, left to start their own firm, in a famously nasty split. (AM Law Litigation Daily)

  • The New York City Bar Association announced several leadership changes, including, among others: it elected Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer trial partner Sheila S. Boston as its new president; it elected Ballard Spahr’s NYC co-managing partner and litigator Marjorie J. Peerce as chair of its board of directors. (NYCBar.org)

  • Apple Inc., advised by Hogan Lovells, was awarded over $2.3 million and Cisco Systems Inc. over $1.9 million in attorneys’ fees in California federal court for defending against a patent infringement suit that the court said should “never have been brought.” Duane Morris, Desmarais LLP, and Baker Botts represented Cisco. (BLAW)

  • Philadelphia-based federal prosecutor William McSwain, ex-Big Law partner and now U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said he has made a priority of prosecuting lawyers for white collar crimes. (Legal Intelligencer)

  • Assertio Holdings, Inc., advised by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, merged with Zyla Life Sciences, advised by Dechert, to create a Nasdaq-traded commercial pharmaceutical company, operating as “Assertio” and focused on neurology, inflammation, and pain products. No terms were disclosed. (Biospace.com)

  • Dechert, which released a report on European regulation of foreign direct investment, is holding a May 28 webinar: Foreign Direct Investment Controls: Globalization in Reverse? (Dechert)

  • Environmental attorney Steven Donziger has to stay under house arrest until September, a federal judge ruled. (Intercept)

Pro Bono

  • The American Bar Association said that at its upcoming virtual annual meeting it will present awards to three lawyers for their “outstanding commitment” to pro bono efforts to help the poor and disadvantaged: O’Melveny & Myers litigation partner Leah Godesky; Dechert litigation partner Neil Steiner; self-employed antitrust, litigation, and legal ethics attorney Allan Van Fleet; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and the American Express General Counsel’s Organization will also receive awards, the ABA said. (AmericanBar.org)

Laterals, Moves

  • DLA Piper added Mayer Brown energy regulatory lawyer Andrew Young to its finance practice and energy sector in Washington. He focuses on issues related to the electric energy industry and matters involving and governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has significant experience on renewable energy projects. (DLAPiper.com)


  • FirstEnergy Corp., one of the largest U.S. electric utilities, promoted its general counsel and senior vice president Robert Reffner to chief legal officer. (BLAW)


  • Memphis-based Baker Donelson elected 15 new shareholders across its U.S. offices, including seven women. (BakerDonelson.com)


  • Since Covid-19 started forcing law firms to work remotely, Shearman & Sterling, Debevoise & Plimpton, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Latham & Watkins have all been hit by scamming attempts, a U.K. authority says. (Law.International via American Lawyer)

  • Contract-review specialist LawGeex released a free ebook on using artificial intelligence-powered legal tech to be able to keep delivering core in-house legal functions within budgets constrained by the Covid-19 crisis. (Content.LawGeex.com)

  • The U.K. is launching a LawTech Sandbox to spur research & development in digital transformation of legal services. (Artificial Lawyer)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com

To read more articles log in.

Learn more about a Bloomberg Law subscription.