Wake Up Call: Norton Rose Wants 4-Day Workweek in Europe, Asia

April 3, 2020, 12:30 PM

In today’s column, more firms announced cost-cutting measures to preserve cash-flow during the Covid-19 crisis; a listed litigation funder suspended dividends; half a dozen law firms delayed their summer associate programs; and major law schools proposed letting this year’s class skip the bar exam; some Big Law firms are providing tech stipends to remote-working lawyers; one firm, having a good 2020, emailed associates to assure them it’s not planning pay cuts or furloughs.

  • Leading off, several law firms this week have been searching for the right mix of layoffs, pay cuts, and other cost cuts to save jobs and just to survive the cash crunch brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Norton Rose Fulbright said yesterday it’s asking staff in its Europe, Middle East and Asia branch to volunteer for up to 20% cuts in pay and work hours for one year starting April 20. The package of measures would bring back the four-day work week the firm resorted to during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. It also defers partner distributions and bonuses and employee salary hikes and bonuses. (GlobalLegalPost.com) (The Lawyer)

  • Firms that have announced cost-cut measures so far include Arent Fox; Baker Donelson; Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft; Goldberg Segalla; Reed Smith; Womble Bond Dickinson; Clark Hill; Loeb & Loeb; Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle; and FordHarrison. And the list is sure to grow. (American Lawyer) (AbovetheLaw.com)

  • But the news is not all bad, Above the Law reports. Cahill Gordon sent an email to associates assuring them it has no plans to cut salaries or furlough lawyers. And other Big Law firms have sent remote-working associates “Covid-19 tech stipends,” ranging from Fried Frank’s $350 to Milbank’s $750. (AbovetheLaw.com)

  • DLA Piper and Vinson & Elkins followed Cooley in announcing delays to their summer associate programs because of Covid-19. (BLAW) Sidley Austin and a couple of Canadian schools made similar announcements. (BusinessInsider.com)

  • Meanwhile, the heads of law schools at Columbia, New York University, and about a dozen other New York law schools are proposing that members of this year’s class should be allowed to skip the bar exam because of the pandemic. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • London listed litigation funder Burford Capital suspended its 2019 dividend and said it will put bonus payments back into the business to reassure investors. (Law.com International)

  • Morrison & Foerster’s survey of 110 general counsel, chief compliance officers, and other top in-house lawyers at global corporations shows they are preparing for the worst from Covid-19. (BLAW)

  • Hogan Lovells recently helped the Kraft Group and the NFL’s New England Patriots secure necessary government approvals so the team could use its plane to pick up 1.3 million N95 masks from China and deliver them to Massachusetts where they’re in high demand. (BLAW)

  • Troutman Sanders formed a pro bono team to advise the Atlanta Opera on an effort in which its costume and wardrobe team is making covers to extend the life of an Atlanta hospitals’ N95 masks. (Troutman.com)

  • Offshore firm Appleby launched updates on how offshore governments are responding to Covid-19, including regulatory filings and travel restrictions. (ApplebyGlobal.com)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • As many courts have gone remote during the crisis, paper filing is the still the norm at the U.S. Supreme Court. (BLAW)

  • A Manhattan federal judge ordered former Locke Lord partner Mark Scott, awaiting sentencing for his conviction in a $400 million cryptocurrency scam, to be released to home confinement during the pandemic. (ABAJournal.com)

  • The New York Court of Appeals eased rules covering how in-house counsel register with the state. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Morgan, Lewis & Bockius for BMW of North America LLC and a dealership won a California state appeals court affirmation of a ruling slashing legal fees granted to a California law firm representing plaintiffs in a lemon-law case. (BLAW)

Laterals, Moves

  • Former LinkedIn general counsel Doug Mandell, who was also top lawyer at AI-power transportation company NAUTO, joined Withersworldwide’s San Francisco office as a partner and to start a new international practice for company founders and senior executives. (WithersWorldwide.com)

  • Squire Patton Boggs’ L.A. office added two lawyers. Veteran worklaw attorney Carmen Cole arrives as a partner from Polsinelli, where she was a shareholder. Tax lawyer Dennis Huang arrives as a principal in the tax strategy & benefits practice. (SquirePattonBoggs.com)

  • As health care practices get a lot of work during Covid-19, Akin Gump’s Washington office got back U.S. Health and Human Services Department attorney Kelly Cleary, who was chief legal officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (BLAW)

  • Law firms are also expanding their bankruptcy and restructuring practices: Baker McKenzie poached two veteran restructuring partners from Greenberg Traurig, Miami-based Mark Bloom and Paul Keenan and their support team will follow, this report says. (Daily Business Review)

  • Paul Hastings hired cybersecurity, privacy, and data protection lawyer Aaron Charfoos as a partner in Chicago. He arrives from Jones Day and has previously been at Kirkland as a partner and Dykema as a member. (PaulHastings.com)

  • Boies Schiller Flexner is losing three more partners, bringing to at least 16 the number it has lost this year. Washington-based commercial litigator Stacey Grigsby is moving to Covington & Burling. Washington-based antitrust litigator and adviser Christopher Renner is moving to Davis Wright Tremaine; Los Angeles-based white collar criminal defense lawyer Michael Schafler moved to L.A. boutique Cohen Williams. (American Lawyer)

  • K&L Gates hired former Kirkland & Ellis partner James A. Shimota as an intellectual property litigation partner. He arrives from Haynes and Boone, where he was founding managing partner of the Chicago office. (KLGates.com)

  • Thomas Hine’s Cleveland headquarters office grabbed seven real estate finance lawyers from Porter Wright Morris & Arthur. (Crain’s Cleveland Business)

  • Wilmington, Delaware-based Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor added two intellectual property lawyers. Commercial litigator Nicholas Picollelli arrives from Manning Gross + Massenburg. Joseph F. Ecker was a patent examiner at the United States Patent & Trademark Office. (YoungConway.com)


  • ORIC Pharmaceuticals, Inc., clinical-stage oncology company, hired industry in-house veteran Christian Kuhlen as general counsel. Kuhlen, who’s both medical doctor and attorney, was previously top lawyer at Synthorx, Ignyta, and Genoptix, and spent three years at Cooley as an associate. (Yahoo! Finance)


  • Hunton Andrews Kurth said it began its new fiscal year promoting 13 lawyers (five women) to partner. (HuntonAK.com)


  • Zoom, videoconferencing tool of choice for many remote-working legal pros, said it is working to address security concerns about the app. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

Legal Education

  • Hollywood Reporter released its 2020 top 11 list of law schools for entertainment lawyers. (HollywoodReporter.com)

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

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