Law right now. Up and down fun with Covid
Hogan Lovells is making 43 business staff in the US and Mexico redundant, as a result of the impact of Covid.
The affected staff make up about 4% of the total business services team in the Americas. The firm is also commencing voluntary redundancies in the UK for business services staff and secretaries, which it expects to complete by November.
A Hogan Lovells spokeswoman confirmed there were no fixed numbers for the voluntary redundancies in the UK, and the firm had "no plans for compulsory redundancies in the UK or further reductions in the US in 2020."
“We appreciate that these are difficult times and these reductions are in no way a reflection on the skills and qualities of the people involved," said CEO Miguel Zaldivar. "These are not easy decisions to take – those who are leaving us are our friends as well as our colleagues and they leave us with our thanks and support.”
He added that while the firm had "performed well over the past few months" there were "continuing uncertainties in the market for 2021" and the firm needs "to be well-positioned to weather what could be a more challenging period.”
Like many other firms, it's a bit of a rollercoaster of ups and downs for staff due to the pandemic. In May, as firms reacted to the impact of Covid-19, Hogan Lovells deferred salary reviews and discretionary bonuses for UK and Asia Pacific associates and business services staff. The following month, the firm reduced salaries for associates in the US, Mexico and Brazil by 10%. But in September, in a welcomed U-turn, the firm announced that it would reverse the pay cuts for lawyers.
HogLove has now carried out its delayed salary and discretionary bonus review for lawyers, and will make the compensation adjustments this month, which are backdated to May 2020.
There's also good news for HogLove's junior lawyers. Over the summer, the firm reduced NQ pay from £90,000 to £85,000 (in London) and from £48,000 to £46,000 (in Birmingham). But it has now reinstated the NQ salaries back to pre-Covid levels. And second year trainees in London who had their salaries frozen at first year levels (£46,000) will now have their salaries increased to £51,000, and backdated to August when the seat move occurred.
A spokeswoman for the firm confirmed that “a salary and bonus review for Business Services will follow in November.”
So it's a bit of a mixed bag for law firms. There are positive signs that lawyers in the big City firms won't be hit in the pocket this year, with temporary salary restrictions eased. And some of the US firms, such as White & Case and Akin Gump, are going great guns by increasing lawyers' wages and paying out special bonuses. But it remains to be seen how business services staff and secretaries at the big City firms will fare with job security and remuneration, as some cuts are creeping in.