Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Today is September 11, and of course this is a date that will be remembered through history as the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my thoughts to those whose lives were particularly affected by those attacks. Each of us has vivid memories of that terrible day.
Shifting gears — it also occurred to me this morning that it was six months ago today, on March 11, that the Novel Coronavirus was officially declared a global “pandemic” by the World Health Organization. I imagine not many of us regarded that pronouncement itself as a memorable event, and yet each of us has a distinct memory of the moment we realized that COVID-19 would not remain isolated in pockets of contagion but would instead be a fact of life influencing our daily habits and activities in every country on the planet. On March 11, I had a “normal” day. I was in New York attending a variety of in-person client meetings through the day, enjoyed a business dinner that evening and flew the next morning. I took note of the fact that some passengers on the full plane were wiping their tray tables with disinfectant, but nobody was wearing a mask, and I went back to finishing my venti dark roast. I haven’t flown since that day. And now here we are, six months later.
I’m sure you can also recall vividly the extensive and rapid set of measures back then to equip all of us to continue serving our clients remotely, to cancel travel plans, and, of course, to adjust our home lives to the ubiquity of videoconference chats, school lessons and work and client meetings.
And then there were the financial implications of the pandemic—for our clients and, by extension, for Mayer Brown. The business media in the second quarter of the year was filled with dire forecasts. And those forecasts were certainly not wrong. More than a month ago, I read that 4,400 businesses had closed their doors here in Chicago alone, more than half of which do not expect to reopen. Those numbers have since increased, adding to job losses and extreme financial hardship for thousands, and for many millions worldwide. Retailers and restaurateurs have been especially hard hit. So too have manufacturers, transportation companies, energy companies and businesses in many other industries.
By comparison, I count Mayer Brown among the fortunate. And I say this without for a moment discounting the impact that COVID-19 and the economic downturn have had on our people, ranging from very inconvenient to tragic. In May, as the storm clouds over the business sector grew ever darker, we reaffirmed to one another that come what may, Mayer Brown would emerge from the crisis in a terrific position to continue to thrive. At the six-month marker, I am more convinced of that than ever, because each day we are proving it to ourselves and our clients. And I am filled with gratitude and admiration for the hard work, dedication and pure and simple patience that each and every one of our people has displayed over this period. Thank you.
We still face significant uncertainties across many of our markets, including when it will be practical for us to return to our offices en masse. But one thing is clear: it is thanks to your tenacity, commitment and wise stewardship of the Firm’s resources, that we have been able to continue on, and thrive, always in accordance with our core values.
PAUL W. THEISS