Coronavirus Continues Its Chokehold On Biglaw, Causing Some Firms To Shut Their Doors

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The stock market is down, way down. The Dow Jones suffered its largest single-day drop in history. Thanks to escalated fears about the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s beginning to look like the days before the financial crisis began. People are panicking and have gone into crisis mode — even Biglaw firms.

As the coronavirus continues its onslaught across the globe with at least 82,000 people infected thus far, the world’s largest law firms have gone on the offensive, initiating measures to ensure that employees are protected from contracting the illness. More firms have issued travel restrictions, more firms are encouraging employees to work remotely, and some firms have even closed their doors entirely.

In addition to the firms we previously reported on, these are the latest to give instructions to employees on how they’ll be dealing with the threat of coronavirus:

  • Shearman & Sterling – the firm has issued a travel ban for China and Hong Kong, and will limit lawyers’ nonessential travel to Italy, Japan, and South Korea, with orders for remote work having been given for all employees in Asia and Italy
  • Dorsey & Whitney – the firm is encouraging lawyers and staff in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong to work remotely, and has distributed laptops to all lawyers and staff to enable them to do so
  • Sullivan & Cromwell – the firm has told lawyers to check in with managing partners or office directors if they plan to travel to any of the countries that have had major coronavirus outbreaks and to be aware that they may have to self-quarantine upon their return
  • Morgan Lewis – the firm has encouraged associates and partners in Asia office to work remotely, restricted all nonessential travel, and shipped supplies directly to its offices in Asia
  • Baker McKenzie – the firm has limited nonessential travel for lawyers and has put remote working protocols in place
  • Pillsbury – the firm hasn’t closed its Asia offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei, Taiwan, and Tokyo, but has sent respirator masks from the U.S. and has ordered hand sanitizer stations for all of its offices in an attempt to help protect its employees
  • Hogan Lovells – while the firm is restricting nonessential travel, it hasn’t closed its Asia offices or office in Milan, Italy, and will permit employees to work remotely if they “have concerns”
  • Latham – the firm has canceled a March 5 client reception at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York, “[o]ut of an abundance of caution”
  • Quinn Emanuel – the firm is paying for employees to take taxis rather than public transport if they must go to the office
  • Squire Patton Boggs – the firm is paying for employees to take taxis rather than public transport if they must go to the office

Some firms have temporarily closed their doors due to the coronavirus taking hold:

  • Dentons – the firm temporarily shut down its office in Wuhan, China, where the virus was first identified
  • Faegre Drinker – the firm temporararily shut down its offices in Shanghai and Beijing, but has since reopened them
  • Baker McKenzie – the firm was the first in London to temporarily close its doors following a coronavirus scare, telling employees to work from home after someone at the firm didn’t feel well upon returning from Italy

What is your firm doing to protect its employees from potential exposure to coronavirus? Please email us or text us (646-820-8477). Stay safe, everyone.

More Big Law Firms Respond as the Coronavirus Continues to Spread Globally [American Lawyer]
Baker McKenzie Closes in London Following Coronavirus Scare [ International]

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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