Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner announced Wednesday that its partners and employees will take pay cuts as the economic downturn intensifies from the coronavirus pandemic.

The 1,400-lawyer trans-Atlantic firm, in the coming months, is deferring “portions of partner distributions as a first line of defense,” a joint statement from the firm’s leaders said. The firm has roughly 540 partners, including 274 equity partners.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is also seeking pay cuts by 15% “for all employees across all offices” for a 13-week period starting in May, the announcement said. Employees making less than $40,000 will not see a cut.

Further, the firm said it has “offered a range of other options to its workforce, including sabbaticals on 30% pay and part-time working hours.” And it is exploring U.S. job retention and workshare programs, according to the announcement.

The statement did not specify the total amount of the pay cuts for partners. Co-chairs Lisa Mayhew and Steve Baumer declined to comment further beyond the firm’s announcement.

The firm said while it remains busy, the measures were taken to prepare the firm for potential challenges.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner “posted strong financial results for the first quarter of this year,” and “many practice areas across the globe remain busy,” said Mayhew and Baumer in the statement. “However, we cannot be complacent,” they added. “Most businesses are being affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, and we are taking these prudent measures to protect jobs.”

The aim is to “better position our firm from a financial perspective to address the likely challenges that will arise in the coming months, the scope and duration of which are uncertain at this point in time,” Mayhew and Baumer said in the statement.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner reported a slight decline in combined U.K. and U.S. revenue of $869.1 million for 2019, the first full year after the trans-Atlantic merger went into effect April 1, 2018.

Revenue decreased 3.4% and net income decreased 3.8% from 2018, but Mayhew noted in a March 18 report on its 2019 year by The American Lawyer that there is often a short-term decline in revenue and profit growth following a major merger, due to additional expenses and time spent on integration.

The firm reported 2019 revenue per lawyer of $621,000, a 1.6% dip, and profits per equity partner of $833,000, a 1.3% decrease.

Mayhew added in the interview that Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner ended 2019 with a positive cash balance of $86 million.

In the Wednesday statement about the pay cuts, Mayhew and Baumer said that revenue exceeded budget for the first quarter of 2020. The quarter ended “with revenues and productivity up on the prior year and budget for the current year,” they said.

“By acting swiftly and decisively, we expect to maintain our strong financial footing. Taking these precautions now, and acting in the best interests of our firm and all our people, will position us well for the future,” they said.


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