Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

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Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:09 pm

Summering in DC this may; anyone have info on how firms are going to handle COVID-19 wrt to the summer?

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:33 pm

I hate to say "it depends" but, this far out, the response could range from canceling drinking events to mass layoffs. Depends on how bad the epidemic is, and to a lesser extent how bad the economy gets, come June.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:24 pm

I meant to ask if anyone has any insider info on how firms are going to handle this, or what communications have gone out with respect to COVID-19. Specifically interested in top tier DC firms (Wilmer, Cov, W&C, GDC). Not asking for speculation.

But I guess on the speculative side I’d love thoughts on this: any chance firms would still pay in an effort to differentiate themselves from more financially shaky firms should summer programs be cancelled or go virtual? As a law student I would def think my firm is TTT and not want to return after clerking if peer firms or even the more profitable NY V5 pay out stipends to their SAs and my summer firm did not.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I meant to ask if anyone has any insider info on how firms are going to handle this, or what communications have gone out with respect to COVID-19. Specifically interested in top tier DC firms (Wilmer, Cov, W&C, GDC). Not asking for speculation.
Most big firms (including mine) are either "permitting" or "encouraging" people to work from home at this point, moving client meetings online, cancelling flights, etc.

I'm about 100% sure that biglaw decision-makers are going to take a wait-and-see approach for the summer associate programs -- they don't gain anything by making pronouncements this early in the year. I agree with you that not paying SAs would be a bad look, and seems unlikely at this stage, but firms (#Latham #NeverForget) will do some pretty cutthroat things if the economic logic is there. So like I said it really depends on how bad the epidemic gets and how bad the economy goes.

Come June, it might be totally unacceptable to have your employees congregate in person, which kinda defeats the point of a SA program, or the virus might have settled into an endemic stage that makes life crappy but doesn't really stop people from going out and doing things. The economy might be fundamentally sound, and producing plenty of work for law firms, or there might be industry-wide belt-tightening.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by LaLiLuLeLo » Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:15 pm

It’s not a firm you’re concerned about or in DC, but mine is basically just sending emails saying they’re monitoring the situation. They put out more hand sanitizer. They’re discouraging travel that isn’t necessary and encouraging virtual meetings.

That’s about it. No real push to work from home and the day to day at the office hasn’t changed whatsoever.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:16 pm

Not at one of the firms above, but the general understanding seems to be that offices will probably begin closing next week for the foreseeable future. I think we are still so far out from SAs coming in that that isn’t even on the radar yet.

However, it seems that my firm has stopped /semi-halted recruiting.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Best » Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:14 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:It’s not a firm you’re concerned about or in DC, but mine is basically just sending emails saying they’re monitoring the situation. They put out more hand sanitizer. They’re discouraging travel that isn’t necessary and encouraging virtual meetings.

That’s about it. No real push to work from home and the day to day at the office hasn’t changed whatsoever.
This is what my firm did, but I'm supposed to tell them if I travel to somewhere on the list of worse than normal so they can determine if they need me to self-quarantine before returning to the office.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:41 am

I'm at a DC firm with a national presence, though not on OP's list of four described "top tier" DC firms. We are told to work from home if we are ill or have been exposed to someone who's tested positive. No travel to China, and "strongly discouraged" travel to a list of 7-10 affected countries or so (Italy, Korea, etc.). 14-day self quarantine upon return from one of those 7-10 countries. Professional staff has been told the firm is preparing to flip the switch on an "everybody work from home" policy if needed by giving out laptops as needed. My guess is that will happen only if either the virus gets substantially worse in DC or if someone who works in our office tests positive.

In terms of recruiting - this is likely more economy based than Coronavirus (though the two are intertwined), but for months I had been receiving 2-3 recruiter emails every day, and in the last two weeks I have received 2 emails total. I'm worried it would be an especially dangerous time to be a 1L, because I could see firms ratchet down class sizes and hirings at OCI in a few months. 2Ls should be fine at 100% offer firms; otherwise who knows. And 3Ls who are still searching should be the most concerned of all.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:16 am

DC biglaw firm, but not the ones you specifically mentioned:
As with some others, we are in wait and see mode and they've sent out emails similar to others in this thread re: traveling, self-quarantine, etc. but we have not instituted any work from home measures. I've heard of one firm having a mandatory WFH day so they can stress test it. Rumors at my firm are that our IT infrastructure isn't where it needs to be for everyone to WFH simultaneously, but haven't heard anything from firm leadership.
In terms of the summer program: Since firms have not decided on whether to close offices yet, it's very doubtful they have not decided on what to do with the summer program, so I think all you'll get is speculation. I would think they'd make that decision about 3 or 4 weeks out from start dates. I can't imagine us canceling it entirely, but I'd think we would have you all get laptops and WFH too. If the economy keeps going like this, I am skeptical that if we did cancel the program that we would still pay SAs -- the firm would be gearing up for a 2007-like situation and the belt-tightening that someone else mentioned.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:23 pm

I just accepted an offer and gave notice to my firm. Now the Coronavirus is making me wonder if the firm may rescind the offer. But I think I am good since the practice group is L&E.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:28 pm

Coronavirus Update to the Paul, Weiss Community

We are living in uniquely challenging times. I wish each of you and your loved ones good health and resilience during this very stressful period. We are continuing to develop the most prudent policies to minimize the potential impact of the Coronavirus on our Firm and our broader community. As always, our first priority is the health and safety of our lawyers and staff. We are making every effort to address these concerns responsibly without overreaction.

We are monitoring daily, sometimes on an hourly basis, public health guidance from the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and local, state and federal authorities. We also speak several times a day to the chairs of our peer firms, leadership at our clients and others throughout the business community and local and state government as well as epidemiologists at Mt. Sinai Hospital to be as informed and thoughtful as possible regarding the Firm’s actions.

While we are not aware of any cases of Coronavirus among PW lawyers or staff at this time, we are taking additional safety measures to further protect our community and reduce the chances of exposure. Below is a summary of our current guidance.

Alternate Work Arrangements

Lawyers should use good judgment in deciding whether and when to work from home, taking into account individual health concerns, public transportation issues, and client and firm needs. You should not come into the office if you show any signs of illness and should check with medical professionals as appropriate. You should not come into the office if you have come into contact with any persons with the virus. If you otherwise have concerns about traveling and coming into the office and wish to work from home, please check with your colleagues on your matters to ensure you are not compromising firm or client needs and adjust your schedule as appropriate, consistent with your individual health concerns. Please use your good judgment in making these determinations.

Staff personnel will be instructed by their department heads regarding alternative work arrangements, taking into account departmental needs and individual health concerns.
In addition to alternate work arrangements, we are reviewing other opportunities to distance employees where there is a close concentration of staff. This includes alternating work-remote schedules for those who share office space throughout the Firm.
These policies have been effective and well-received, based on the very extensive feedback you have provided. We welcome any additional thoughts and ideas you have on this subject.

Firm Events and Meetings
We ask that Firm personnel not attend non-essential external events of more than 100 attendees. Departmental chairs and other managers may grant exceptions, as appropriate.
We also ask that employees cancel or postpone any upcoming internal meetings of more than 25 participants. Lawyers and staff may instead conduct these meetings via audio/video conference or other virtual meeting tools.
PW telling us to come to work until we catch the virus.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:51 pm

The firm has taken a number of steps to protect the health and safety of our workforce in response to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We are fortunate that, to date, none of our partners or employees have tested positive for the virus. That said, given the continued spread of COVID-19 in the United States, we believe it is now appropriate to escalate our preventative measures. These new actions, summarized below, are taken with your best interests in mind, and those of your families, our clients and the communities in which we work and live.

Telework from Offices in Affected Regions

The firm has instituted voluntary remote working for partners and employees in the Seattle and Palo Alto offices. Currently, Information Technology is testing this capability in a staged fashion across the country so that voluntary remote working can be extended to other offices as recommended by government health authorities.

Staff who have questions about the opportunity to telework should contact their manager or local HR. Technical questions regarding remote working should be directed to the Help Desk.
DLA Piper: unless the government tells us we’re not allowed to force you, your ass better come into work. Nobody is sick here yet, stop your whinging.

Reactive measures are so dumb. It’s too late by the time there are confirmed cases.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:20 pm

OP here. FTR, I did not mean to say those 4 specific DC firms are in a league of their own. I am summering at one of them and have friends at others so they were of particular interest, although they do seem to be among the stronger firms in the market.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by ghostoftraynor » Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I meant to ask if anyone has any insider info on how firms are going to handle this, or what communications have gone out with respect to COVID-19. Specifically interested in top tier DC firms (Wilmer, Cov, W&C, GDC). Not asking for speculation.

But I guess on the speculative side I’d love thoughts on this: any chance firms would still pay in an effort to differentiate themselves from more financially shaky firms should summer programs be cancelled or go virtual? As a law student I would def think my firm is TTT and not want to return after clerking if peer firms or even the more profitable NY V5 pay out stipends to their SAs and my summer firm did not.
This is a pretty silly response. Nobody knows. My firm has been sending updated policies almost daily all week.

Two weeks ago nobody would have thought the NBA was going to be cancelled. Things are developing rapidly and summer is still a ways away. Even if firm chairpersons were regularly monitoring this, nobody would be able to answer your question.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by jarofsoup » Thu Mar 12, 2020 10:19 pm

Basically if you want to work remotely and/or you have an underlying health condition the firms are not going to give you any grief.

This is a completely unique time.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by yost » Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:09 pm

My firm is now encouraging us to work from home.

Regarding recruiting, it seems to have come to a screeching halt.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Mar 16, 2020 2:57 pm

Covington emailed summers saying plan is to have normal summer program still and switch to remote if needed.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by nealric » Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:18 pm

These policies can change very quickly, and may be subject to government mandates outside of firm control. My company went from optional work from home Friday to mandatory work from home (unless a business critical need requires in-person attendance) yesterday.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 19, 2020 6:23 pm

My firm has announced essentially mandatory work from home is on through 3/31. And if we’re all back in the office on April 1 I’d be shocked.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 25, 2020 4:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My firm has announced essentially mandatory work from home is on through 3/31. And if we’re all back in the office on April 1 I’d be shocked.
Personally, I can't wait to get back in the office. Anyone else having issues getting their families to understand that they aren't available to do things other than work during the workday? Having a 1br apartment kind of exacerbates things...

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 25, 2020 4:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My firm has announced essentially mandatory work from home is on through 3/31. And if we’re all back in the office on April 1 I’d be shocked.
Personally, I can't wait to get back in the office. Anyone else having issues getting their families to understand that they aren't available to do things other than work during the workday? Having a 1br apartment kind of exacerbates things...
My DC firm just announced that the office is officially closed per the latest executive order from Mayor Bowser. Prior to today, almost everybody had been working from home, but the office wasn't actually closed. Based on that order, we're supposed to remain closed until April 24; not sure whether that will change.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:49 pm

Baker Botts DC told us not to make flight or housing plans due to "uncertainty regarding future restrictions on travel and gatherings" and that they will update us with more news soon.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by QContinuum » Fri Mar 27, 2020 7:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Baker Botts DC told us not to make flight or housing plans due to "uncertainty regarding future restrictions on travel and gatherings" and that they will update us with more news soon.
Is this for incoming summers/first-years, or for current lawyers? If the latter, that's incredibly callous to tell folks they can't leave D.C. to be with their family, even though it's obvious this is gonna be a month+ ordeal at the shortest (most likely at least two months, if not longer). They can't seriously think they'll be able to reopen the office in a week or two.

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Re: Any updates on DC Biglaw Covid-19 policy?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:49 pm

Applies only to incoming summers.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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