Legal Business Blogs

Magic Circle trio ask City staff to work from home as coronavirus crisis deepens

Allen & Overy (A&O), Slaughter and May and Clifford Chance have asked City staff to work from home in a bid to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

The moves come as the UK’s infection rate today [16 March] rose to 1,395 cases, 35 of which have proved fatal.

An A&O spokesperson said in a statement: ‘Allen & Overy is strongly encouraging all partners and staff in its London office to take advantage of its existing flexible working arrangements to work from home for the next few weeks in response to the spread of Covid-19. We are keeping the situation under constant review and have introduced various different working arrangements in other offices across our global network.’

Other measures the City giant has taken include international travel restrictions, in place since 1 March, cancelling larger meetings and encouraging other meetings to be handled remotely.

Slaughters has followed similar steps, asking all staff to work from home ‘where feasible to reduce overall numbers of people in the office and traveling to work.’ The arrangements will initially be in place until Friday 3rd April, with the situation kept under review, and follow a successful trial of working from home measures conducted at short notice last week.

Meanwhile CC, whose APAC employees have been working remotely for some time, has rolled out working from home for its UK, US, European and Middle East offices, and has business continuity procedures in place across all its offices.

A CC spokesperson said in a statement: ‘The firm is taking precautions seriously and is closely following all relevant government and WHO advice to ensure that we are ready to adapt to the latest guidance. Our primary focus is on ensuring the health and wellbeing of all our staff and their families.’

The London office of Linklaters, meanwhile, remains open, although a spokesperson for the firm said people are not expected to come into the office if they feel uncomfortable doing so. The firm ran a mass test last week in order for people to experience remote working. The firm has shut its Milan and Madrid office, while its Paris staff started working from home from today and its German teams will follow suit from tomorrow.

Elsewhere, Baker McKenzie has moved its London and Belfast offices to full remote working from today. A spokesperson for the firm said the 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’. The firm will continue to ‘keep the position under close review’ but expected measures to be in place at least until the end of the month.

Last week, as law firms around the world were forced to take ever more radical steps in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, Reed Smith asked its staff to work from home as Taylor Wessing closed its London office altogether after a member of staff tested positive.