Slaughter and May sign
Slaughter and May

Slaughter and May has suspended partner pay in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It means that partners will temporarily go without pay while the cash is retained in the business, according to a person at the firm. The firm has not confirmed the duration of the freeze. 

The move, first reported by Roll On Friday, came to light via an internal email from firm senior partner Steve Cooke, who, according to a person close to the matter, said that all “discretionary distributions to partners” had been suspended with the money “being retained in the business”.

It follows similar moves by the rest of the Magic Circle. Earlier this week, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer decided to suspend its latest quarterly partner distribution. On Wednesday, Linklaters did the same.

Several firms across the U.K. are taking drastic measures to protect against the economic turmoil brought about by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. Slaughters was among the first firms to take action, pausing its associate recruitment due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

At the end of March A&O asked partners to contribute capital to the business and is gradually reducing its partner profit distributions. Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, Reed Smith and Norton Rose Fulbright have all said they will be taking steps including lowering or deferring partner pay outs.

The move by Slaughters comes quick on the heels of a surprise double-partner departure late last month, with restructuring and insolvency partner Richard de Carle leaving for Ashurst, and corporate partner Susannah Macknay exiting for Australian heavyweight Gilbert + Tobin.