02 June 2020

Reed Smith to axe London lawyers in Covid-19 measures

City of London skyline at sunset

The City of London

Firm-wide pay is cut while 'targeted redundancy programme' will affect fewer than 20 lawyers and 10 staff

Top 30 US firm Reed Smith has announced a round of job cuts in London as part of a series of measures in response to the impact of Covid-19.

In a statement, managing partner Sandy Thomas said the firm was “initiating a targeted redundancy process that will impact fewer than 20 lawyers and 10 staff” in London, the firm’s largest office.

The firm is also extending previously announced reductions in partner drawings to many staff members, with counsel pay being reduced by 12.5%,  associate pay by 12% and the pay of professional staff earning more than $100,000 by at least 6%, all on an annualised basis

Most professional assistants and other select professional staff are being put on a four-day week with a corresponding pay reduction and “a small number of staff” are being temporarily furloughed.

Thomas said the latest measures applied to its offices in the US, Europe and the Middle East, but that it had already undertaken “similar actions affecting a small percentage of lawyers and professional staff” in Asia earlier this year.

The cost cutting measures mean Reed Smith joins a relatively small, but growing number of top 50 US firms that have reduced pay in the US, which include Baker McKenzie, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, Orrick and Mayer Brown.

But it becomes the first leading international law firm known to be making cuts in London.

A survey of 170 UK law firms — mostly in the mid-market — published last week found that one in ten firms had commenced job cutting programmes although 91% of the respondents had furloughed staff under the government-funded job retention programme.

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