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13 March 2020

Covid-19: Taylor Wessing closes office, Reed Smith implements remote working and Burford delays results

Disruption caused by coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate

pic of a coronavirus assessment pod

A health assessment pod in central London Shutterstock

Escalating coronavirus disruption has seen Taylor Wessing close its London office, Reed Smith ask all staff across the US, Europe and the Middle East to work from home and Burford Capital delay the announcement of its financial results.  

Taylor Wessing’s London office will be closed until next Wednesday (18 March) with staff working remotely after a staff member tested positive.

The firm said the employee had been self-isolating for a week, had suffered a mild reaction and was recovering well.

It said its technology allowed the firm to continue its business activity without disruption and staff in offices in badly affected regions, including France and China, were remote working as a precaution.

Other measures taken by the firm - typical of those being taken across the legal profession - include restricted travel with no travel to World Health Organisation category one and two areas, the cancelling of an upcoming international partners conference and increased office cleaning schedules alongside the placing of additional hand sanitisers across each floor and in common areas.

Meanwhile, Reed Smith said that from today all staff across its US, European and Middle East offices would be working remotely until further notice.

"In all of our offices, a team of essential employees will be available to assist with key business needs, including the support of clients that require in-person attendance," the firm said. "Our goal is to limit the spread of Covid-19."

In its statement to the London Stock Exchange yesterday, Burford Capital blamed disruption in New York, where its financial team is predominantly based, on a delay of two to three weeks in the release of its fiscal year 2019 financial results.

The firm said it had closed its New York office and had  - along with many of its law firm clients - asked its staff to work from home while two employees key to the results process were self-isolating at home.

"We do not believe that these disruptions will have any material negative impact on our business," the statement said, "and indeed we expect a heightened level of engagement as firms and their clients head into a potential downturn and also come to grips with the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus."

On Tuesday, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath closed its national network of US offices after a visitor to its Washington DC office subsequently tested positive for coronavirus with most of the network reopening the following day.

On Monday, Quinn Emanuel closed its New York office after a partner tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend. The firm said the partner was resting from home with minor symptoms.

Other firms affected by a case – or a suspected case – of coronavirus include Clayton Utz, which temporarily closed its Sydney office last week while awaiting the results of a test undertaken by a member of staff which proved negative, and Wolf Theiss, which tested all of its employees after a partner was infected.

Lawrence Garbuz, of New York trust and estates boutique Lewis and Garbuz, remains critically ill in hospital with the virus.

All of Italy’s lawyers are working remotely under the lockdown announced by the Italian government on Monday.

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