Legal Business, the legal news publication, has ceased operations and furloughed its entire staff, RollOnFriday understands.
As of Wednesday afternoon it had stopped publication of its magazine and posts on its website*.
All staff, of which 13 are listed on its site, have been furloughed, said sources. Technically they will retain their jobs, although effectively they have been laid off for what is meant to be a temporary period. Under the government's scheme they should be able to receive 80% of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
Legal Business, one of the best legal news publications out there and well known for its in-depth features, should have been more than capable to carrying on with staff working remotely, and until 3pm on 1 April it appeared to be doing just that.
Don't read all about it.
But instead of allowing reporters to continue to bring important news in a time of global crisis, Legalease, Legal Business' parent company, saw fit to plunge them into uncertainty and toss the burden of funding their reduced salaries to the taxpayer.
Legalease is owned and run by sole director John Pritchard, the solicitor-cum-legal-directories-magnate. It also produces Legal 500, which RollOnFriday revealed last week had slashed staff pay indecently quickly.
Perhaps Legalease is in such a precarious state that closing down is the only way to protect the business. But furloughing all staff within a fortnight of the crisis hitting seems like a hasty move. RollOnFriday has been busy talking to law firm bosses in recent days, and all have said they anticipate a temporary blip and intend to sit tight, protect staff as much they can and carry on. Some have even said they are already seeing an uptick in business in Asia as it gets to grips with the pandemic in advance of the west.
Legalease did not respond to requests for comment.
*until a few hours after RollOnFriday made enquiries, when a lone post appeared on Thursday. Which means if we keep asking questions maybe Legalease will put everyone back to work.