Baker McKenzie sign


Global law firm Baker McKenzie has thus far not cut pay or reduced working hours for lawyers in its Australian offices, despite several other firms doing so in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus.

“Baker McKenzie’s Australian offices have made no layoffs, no cuts in pay, and not introduced any mandatory reductions in working hours,” national managing partner Anthony Foley said in a statement.

Instead, the firm undertook an all-staff survey last week to determine the support that staff needed while working from home.

As a result, the firm has increased working flexibility for staff to help them manage their duties of caring for other members of their households, “particularly for those with young children given the closure of schools and day care centers and the demands of homeschooling,” Foley said.

The voluntary options include the possibility of adjusted hours, reduced hours, and taking accrued carers or annual/long service leave.

While Baker McKenzie has not cut pay, several other firms in Australia have, including MinterEllison and Gilbert + Tobin.

Allen & Overy’s Australian offices have also adjusted partner pay as part of what the firm refers to as “prudent management measures as part of our ongoing scenario planning.”

These include “adjustments to the phasing of profit distribution to partners, increasing partner capital levels, deferring certain investments and recruitment, and canceling events.”

The firm will still award bonuses for this financial year, with bonus payments for fee-earners and more senior support staff split between its normal payment date in July and October’s payroll.

“A&O retains good diversification across practices and one of the broadest international offerings among the global elite firms so we are confident in our resilience if economic conditions worsen,” the firm said in a statement.

Local Australian law firm Hall & Wilcox will also adjust partner distributions this year, the Australian legal news publication Lawyers Weekly reported.

“We want to manage our business to come through this and be well-positioned for what we anticipate will be a ‘V’ shaped recovery,” managing partner Tony Macvean is quoted as saying.

“Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to comment at this stage,” a spokeswoman for the firm said.