Simmons & Simmons’ London HQ

A long-time member of Simmons & Simmons’ London security team died in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic after contracting COVID-19, it has emerged.

A person with knowledge of the matter said the member of staff reported that he had started to feel ill on Friday, March 20, and passed away just six days later on March 26. After he fell ill, other members of his security team were sent home to self-isolate, but none developed symptoms of COVID-19.

According to the person, the security guard was in his mid-50s, and had been a contractor for Simmons for 15 years. He was a well known figure in the firm’s London City Point headquarters.

He leaves behind a wife and three children.

It has yet to be medically established how or where the member of staff caught the virus, the person added.

A spokesperson for the firm said in a statement: “Simmons & Simmons can sadly confirm that a member of the firm’s London security team has tragically passed away after testing positive for COVID-19. Our thoughts are with his wife and three children at this difficult time.”

The matter demonstrates the difficulty facing firms that are looking to return to work, especially when considering the safety of staff members whose roles involve dealing directly with multiple people on a daily basis.

The U.K.-headquartered firm reopened its London office in June following an internal survey of U.K. staff. The firm is encouraging remote working but opened the office for a “very limited return of our people” with only certain floors being made available, according to a firm statement.  

Like businesses around the world, the U.K. legal industry has been deeply affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic since it first took hold in March. That month, Taylor Wessing closed its London office after a staffer became the legal industry’s first known case of coronavirus in the U.K. Around the same time in the U.S., a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan tested positive for the virus.

Simmons has taken various measures to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19, including furloughing staff and delaying profit distributions. In March, the firm called off its annual partner conference in Monaco as concerns over outbreak snowballed, while later in June the firm’s global workforce voted to reduce their working hours and pay by 20%.

With reporting by Varsha Patel.

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