Knowledge Centre

Coronavirus: City giants tell staff to stay at home

Written By - Joshua Watts - March 16,2020

City giants Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie have told staff to work from home until at least the end of March to combat the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement released today, Allen & Overy said it is ‘strongly encouraging’ all partners and employees in its London office to ‘take advantage of its existing flexible working arrangements’ and work from home. It said: ‘The firm will continue providing its usual high level of service to clients as all our lawyers and most support staff are able to work remotely using secure, tried and tested technology. We are keeping the situation under constant review and have introduced various different working arrangements in other offices across our global network.’
The firm has had international travel restrictions in place since 1 March, and has cancelled larger meetings.
Meanwhile, Baker McKenzie said its London and Belfast offices have moved to full remote working as of today. A spokesperson said: ‘Our offices will be closed for all but essential services such as IT, couriers, post and printing so as to support the delivery of all client services, including closings and court hearings. We do not expect our clients to experience any reduction in service levels.
‘We have a well-established agile working programme - including sophisticated technology and IT systems for home working - which allows us to take these precautionary measures without impacting our client service delivery. We will continue to keep the position under close review, but expect remote working to continue in both locations until at least the end of March 2020.’
City firm Taylor Wessing has closed its London office until Wednesday after a member of staff tested positive for the virus. International firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan also closed its New York office for a week after a partner contracted the illness.
It has been reported that City firms have experienced a 25% increase in calls and client enquiries as a result of legal issues relating to coronavirus. Many solicitors have fielded calls from clients with disrupted supply chains and deals under threat.
Last week, Squire Patton Boggs hosted a webinar about the legal and commercial risks associated with the outbreak.