Latham & Watkins on Friday became the latest firm to upend plans in reaction to the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus—officially known as COVID-19.
The second-largest U.S. law firm by revenue said it was canceling its global partners meeting, which was set to take place next week in New York. Latham has 2,720 lawyers spread across 29 cities in 14 countries.
“After careful consideration, and with the health and well-being of our colleagues and clients foremost in mind, we made the difficult decision to cancel our global partners meeting,” said Richard Trobman, the firm’s chair and managing partner, in a statement. “While we perceive the risks to be small, safety is our first priority, and we thought this decision was in the best interests of all concerned given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.”
Latham’s cancellation of its global partners meetings comes hours after the firm said it was canceling a March 5 client reception at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
“Out of an abundance of caution and after careful consideration for the health and well-being of our clients and colleagues, we have made the decision due to the uncertain conditions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak,” the firm said in the email.
Latham’s global footprint includes China, where more than 78,000 people have been infected by the virus, as well as South Korea, Japan and Italy, which have respectively seen at least 600 reported coronavirus cases, according to The New York Times.
Latham is the latest in a long line of law firms who have been canceling events and restricting travel in reaction to a virus that has infected over 80,000 people and killed at least 2,800 people across 56 countries as of Friday afternoon.
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has also called off a planned partner retreat, this one in San Antonio. Duane Morris canceled its Asia partners meeting, which was scheduled to take place within the next month. Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright and Baker Botts are excluding Asia-based attorneys from their partner meetings.
Baker McKenzie on Friday announced it had closed its London office after someone at the firm reported feeling unwell after returning from Northern Italy.
Dorsey & Whitney said it has suspended all normal business travel by its lawyers and staff to and from China, starting earlier this month. The firm’s managing partner, William Stoeri, previously told The American Lawyer that they’ve encouraged their China-based personnel—17 attorneys plus staff—to work remotely.