Dechert, King & Spalding, Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May are the latest firms to roll out global working from home policies in the wake of further disruption by COVID-19.
Dechert sent a memo to all its people on Friday to “encourage all personnel to work from home on a full time basis”, effective immediately, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Its offices are still operating with reduced staff.
The firm had previously introduced a restriction on non-essential business travel, the person added.
King & Spalding has also told all of its staff to work from home for a period of two weeks, but has stopped short of closing its offices, according to a person close to the matter, with staff still able to go in if needed. In London, the firm has also launched a Covid-19 working group and has set up a rota for secretarial support, the person said. Fee-earners have been asked to use the firm’s virtual private network, while secretaries will use a ‘virtual desktop’.
Meanwhile Clifford Chance has recommended that its staff work from home, though the offices remains open for the time being, a spokesperson for the firm said.
The spokesperson added in a statement: ”Our primary focus is on ensuring the health and wellbeing of all our staff and their families. We have established business continuity procedures in place for all our offices around the globe which include working remotely.
“These procedures and our advanced and well-embedded agile working technologies and policies, ensure that clients will continue to be serviced as seamlessly as possible even when a significant proportion of our people are working away from the office.”
A person at the firm added that, while the firm’s teams in the Asia Pacific region are already working remotely, its “U.S., European (including U.K.) and Middle East offices will also be working remotely”. They added: “All offices continue to be operational and to provide a high level of support to our clients.”
Last week, the Magic Circle firm ran a two-day remote working test in its London office to ensure that staff could access their systems and to familiarise them with a home-working environment.
Fellow Magic Circle firm A&O too has said it is “strongly encouraging” its London-based partners and other staff “to take advantage of its existing flexible working arrangements to work from home for the next few weeks in response to the spread of Covid-19″, according to a statement.
The firm added that all its lawyers and “most support staff” are able to work remotely “using secure, tried and tested technology”. It added that it was keeping the situation under review and has introduced various different working arrangements in other offices.
Like several other firms, A&O has since March 1 had international travel restrictions in place, has cancelled larger meetings, and encouraged the use of technology. The firm added: “The welfare of all A&O people and our clients is our priority.”
Slaughter and May has also joined the procession of top firms asking their staff to work remotely. In a statement, the firm said that it has asked staff to work from home “where feasible to reduce overall numbers of people in the office and traveling to work”.
The statement continues: “Our teams are well set up to work remotely and our office remains open. These arrangements will apply initially until Friday April 3, and we will keep the situation under review.”
A number of firms have now widened their remote working protocols in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.
White & Case is allowing its London lawyers and other employees to work remotely this week, according to a spokesperson at the firm. According to one person with knowledge of the matter, the firm will be reviewing the remote working order on a weekly basis as advice on handling the coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. develops.
U.K. firm Macfarlanes has also informed its staff that it will be “permitting people to work from home more extensively than usual”, the firm’s senior partner Charles Martin told Law.com International’s Legal Week on Friday. Fellow U.K. outfit Simmons & Simmons has also closed its London office today.
Meanwhile Reed Smith’s workforce began working remotely Friday, according to a firm spokesperson.
With reporting by Hannah Roberts.