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Shearman & Sterling lawyers offered six month sabbaticals for 30% pay

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As Reed Smith introduces unpaid leave scheme

US law firms Shearman & Sterling and Reed Smith are the latest to introduce measures to mitigate against the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shearman is offering its global staff and fee-earners lengthy sabbaticals on reduced pay, while Reed Smith is introducing an unpaid leave scheme for all employees.

Shearman’s voluntary leave programme allows its lawyers to take a minimum of three months and a maximum of six months off work at a third of their annual pay, the firm confirmed on Friday.

It will top up participants’ salaries to 40% if they engage in pro bono work during their voluntary leave.

Legal Cheek understands applications for the scheme are ongoing and so it is not yet known how many of the firm’s lawyers have signed-up to the new initiative.

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Fellow US outfit Reed Smith is offering employees the option to take up to three months unpaid leave. During this time, benefits such as healthcare and life insurance will remain in place.

A spokesperson for the firm told the website Employee Benefits: “We recognise that our people might want a break because of unique, individualised demands due to the coronavirus pandemic or other reasons.”

They continued:

“To meet that need, Reed Smith is offering our lawyers and professional staff the option to select an unpaid leave of absence for up to three months. We will ensure that all client and business needs will be addressed before they start their annual unpaid leave. All healthcare and life insurance coverage will continue during the leave of absence.”

The new measure comes on top of several others the firm has implemented since March, including deferring its equity partners’ bonuses into two payments, with partners paid half their bonus amount on the scheduled payment date, and the remaining half three months later.

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