Kirkland Ellis LLP logo layoff laid off Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGWe live in a rapidly changing economy; these are dynamic times for the legal profession. But we still can’t help but be surprised at how quickly talk has turned from associate pay raises to associate layoffs.
Just a few short months ago, “NY to 190″ seemed just around the corner. Today, even though we still hear stray rumors of pay raises — so we’re not ruling anything out, who knows what might happen — recently we’ve been hearing more about possible layoffs. We’ll pass along such rumors in this new feature, Nationwide Layoff Watch.
Today the gossip is swirling about the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis. More details, after the jump.


Before we pass along the dish, here are some caveats:

1. As stated, these are just rumors. Gossip. Scuttlebutt. We haven’t heard anything terribly definite.

2. We reached out to various sources at K&E, several of whom said they knew nothing of any layoffs (although these sources aren’t in Chicago, unlike the sources for the rumors).

3. We contacted the firm. Through a spokesperson, they declined to comment.

With those caveats in mind, here’s what we’ve been hearing, from sources in Kirkland’s Chicago office. The scuttlebutt is that K&E has effectively laid off several third- to sixth-year associates in its Chicago office. The exact number is not known, but it’s believed to be somewhere between 5 and 10 associates — a number high enough to suggest the dismissals were not performance-based (at least based on the levels of prior performance-based departures).
Sources say that these associates (1) were told that they had until the end of this year to find new jobs, and (2) were not previously made aware of any problems with their performance. In other words, they weren’t warned, maybe six months or a year ago, of problems with the quality of their work or their hours that had to be cured.
But look, we don’t have many details. We’d also note that there can be a very fine line between (1) associate layoffs and (2) more aggressive than usual performance reviews (where the degree of scrutiny is turned up due to changing business conditions, how busy the firm is, etc.).
If you have info to share about the situation at K&E, please email us. Thanks.
Update: More about this story appears here. A rebuttal to the rumors appears here.
Earlier: The Heller Ehrman Layoffs: Don’t Believe the Spin?


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